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With the Billion Euro House, an Irish Artist Protests While Recycling

Shredded cash becomes the ultimate symbol of the economic crisis.

What happens to money after it's too old and worn to be in circulation? Most banks around the globe shred the cash, recycle it, or sell it as a novelty item. Irish artist Frank Buckley managed to both recycle and create a one-of-a-kind protest against the global economic crisis after he turned $1.4 billion Euros—about $1.8 billion U.S. dollars—into a house.

A decade ago Ireland's booming economy transformed it from a nation with staggering unemployment and poverty into a prosperous isle that was a magnet for international corporations. Buckley told the Irish Times that since the crash of the Celtic Tiger, he's seen too many suicides, including that of a close friend. And, like many Americans, before the downturn a bank granted him a 100 percent loan to buy a home, even though he had no income to pay the monthly mortgage. Bill collectors, says Buckley, have come after him and "terrorized" his family.

When he found out that the Central Bank of Ireland was giving away the shredded cash, he "collected two trailerfuls" and started out creating mixed-media art with it. He began building his Billion Euro House in Dublin in December 2011 in an unrented office space. Each 6-inch by 2-inch brick is about $50,000 Euros, and provides such cozy insulation that despite the cold of winter Buckley says he doesn't need heat inside.

Nearly 500 people came to see the Billion Euro House in its first week and Buckley is thrilled it's gotten people talking about what's happening in Ireland and around the world. "This is just paper and people are committing suicide," he says.

Photos courtesy of Billion Euro House

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