“Good grief,” says one of the architects behind One Hyde Park, the most expensive tower block in the history of London. “Anybody would think we’d actually designed a germ-warfare-research institute!” But the building is far more troublesome than that. When it opened, a decade ago, in a Cristal-soaked ceremony that launched 5,000 golden balloons into the Knightsbridge atmosphere, One Hyde Park ushered in a stark new era of London’s “global” wealth. (It’s global only if you happen to come from a mineral-rich former Soviet state and don’t mind making a few enemies.)

It also distorted Britain’s property market forever—an outrageously lavish and opulent hideaway that set an eye-popping high-water mark for house prices in the capital, dragged everyone else’s mortgages up with it, and became a gilded anchor for offshore riches. Worst of all, perhaps, it was deemed gently tacky by the commentator classes—bland and showy all at once, like a first-class lounge with panic rooms. “A hutch for the improbably rich,” as A. A. Gill once put it. “A self-made ghetto of naff and gilt.”