We drive along a dusty street in Bucharest’s northern suburbs.
The pavement is cracked and rough. There are also nails that have been bent by traffic. The pavement is covered in weeds and the parking lot is littered with garbage.
On the other side of the road is what appears to be a small warehouse with a marked door for the security guard. From the outside, it’s quite ugly.
It’s no longer a warehouse. It is home to the Tate brothers. They live just a few meters from the airport. The Tate brothers back onto what appears like scrubland. But look through the gates and you will see a completely different world.
The front yard has a statue, a swimming pool and the word “Tate” written in large scrolled letters on two walls. Four expensive cars are parked at the far wall. A Porsche, a BMW and an Aston Martin are all on display.
Two of them have British personal plates, which start with T8 for Tate. Later, I discovered that one of the plates is several months late in its MoT.
This house has been featured in several short films by Andrew Tate that celebrate his lavish lifestyle. It is now quiet.
Many security guards are present, likely to watch over the expensive cars and ensure that no one breaks into a house that is not occupied, but decorated with expensive decorations.
We ring the bell but no one answers. As part of its prosecution against the brothers, the Romanian government has taken possession of the house and all its contents. If they are found guilty, all of these items can be sold to cover costs and compensation.
The Tates are said to have orchestrated their scheme to lure Romanian women to Romania, and then to coerce them into joining pornographic webcams.
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Andrew Tate also established his Hustlers University base here, which was described as both a pyramid-selling plan and a tool to boost his online presence.
Neighbors told us they have seen many people come and go from the house. One neighbor described the Tates as “wheeler-dealers” in Romanian.
Another claimed that they were unpopular in summer because they revved up their cars at night while everyone else was trying to sleep with the windows open.
Others pointedly refused to comment. I spoke with many people in the neighborhood, but very few were willing to discuss their famous neighbours even casually. Many allegations involving “organised crime,” often lead to that.
The allegations against the brothers were extraordinary when they were first arrested. They are accused not only of breaking the law but also of participating in truly evil acts.
It is still disconcerting, despite all the recent ghastly precedents, to see high-profile people being connected to such horrible acts. They deny crimes that we should report.
Now that the dust has settled the case feels more tangible and real. We moved from their home to the Court of Appeal, Bucharest, to show that justice is moving.
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The Tate brothers lost their appeal against their detention and the seizure their assets.
They spoke together with Alexandra Luana Radu (and Georgiana Naghel) during a hearing that lasted more than five hours and was held in secret.
It was of no avail. Their lawyer claimed that there was not enough evidence to support their claims and that they had no reason for fleeing the country. The original decision to keep them in custody for 30 more days was upheld by the two women judges.
In the coming weeks, it is very likely that the prosecution will try to extend the detention. This case is complex and controversial, so nobody expects it to be brought to court any time soon.
In the meantime, the strange Tate residence in Voluntari will remain empty. This is a testament to an empire which has, at least for now, come to a halt.