Dateline: Vienna, Austria
I took the train over from Bratislava to spend a day in one of Europe’s best-loved cities: Vienna, Austria.
Sadly, I won’t be staying in Austria long enough to take in one of the city’s top-notch classical music performances.
Rather, I’m here on a different mission: meeting with one of the top offshore gold storage facilities in the world.
Das Safe here in Vienna has been in business for more than thirty years, and it is one of the most talked-about facilities online among those seeking to get their gold out of Dodge and avoid coming gold confiscation that is already underway in some countries.
However, Das Safe goes beyond the typical offshore gold storage options we talk about in one key way: anonymous gold storage.
Austria has a strong tradition of bank secrecy. In fact, the Austrian government has been busy fighting the European Union to maintain its strict bank secrecy, the kind that once put Austria in the ranks of Switzerland with things like numbered bank accounts.
Even obtaining Austrian citizenship is a clandestine process labeled an “official secret” by the Austrian government.
That tradition of secrecy is present today at Das Safe here in Vienna.
Das Safe is basically a private vault where customers can store anything they want. Unlike other facilities like Singapore’s Freeport, there is no room to store large artwork here, but customers do include large companies storing millions of dollars worth of data backup.
And, of course, while the owners won’t (and can’t) tell you what is stored in their safe deposit boxes, there is no doubt a number of users are storing everything from gold and silver to diamonds and family heirlooms here.
Das Safe is, in a word, old school. Walking by the facility near Vienna’s city center, you’d never think the place was a private vault likely storing hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
That’s because the facility used to be a bank until it was taken over to use as a private vault. The fact that it is not a part of the banking system means any gold or other valuables you store here is a non-reportable asset (if you’re American, that is).
Now, when I say “old school”, I mean that Das Safe is rather unassuming in the European tradition. When I visited the Freeport in Singapore last year, I felt like James Bond going through a series of increasingly complicated security channels to get to the main vault.
Das Safe doesn’t feel like something you’d see in a movie. You simply walk in during their business hours, enter your personal password on a computer, and a door opens to let you into the vault area.
There, there are rows of secured deposit boxes, each connected to a user password. Security at Das Safe doesn’t seem as rigorous as at the flashier facilities, but it is there in the background. While some other vault facilities keep you out of the main storage area, Das Safe ensures your box safety by only allowing your box to be opened when someone enters with your password.
There are security cameras all over the place here, although I was able to confirm they don’t actually record anywhere, which would destroy anonymity. They are simply monitored.
Every box comes with about US$50,000 in insurance, for which you need to prove what was in the box in the event of any issue. However, you can add insurance up to nearly $1 million per box. If you need more, you simply add another box.
Das Safe has a variety of private box sizes for rent, each of which can be paid for as little as a month at a time. However, the four smallest box sizes are entirely rented out – and have been for some time – meaning you should expect to spend a little over $1,000 per year for an anonymous box, or slightly less if you don’t mind registering it with your name and passport or EU identification card.
This is in addition to a roughly $600 key deposit.
Of course, if you’re storing gold anonymously, you would likely want to pay for at least a year – and possibly several years – in advance so that your box doesn’t get shut down for non-payment. Anonymous means anonymous at Das Safe, which means they don’t know your name, address, or any other details… and nowhere to send an invoice.
Heck, the staff here don’t even have business cards because, as the former manager told me in quintessential central European fashion, “people don’t want to have our card on their body.”
How to get anonymous gold storage
Because Das Safe is a private facility, they operate in essentially the same way a baggage locker at the train station would. The Austrian government doesn’t require them to take any personal details in order to rent a box.
As mentioned above, the company does charge for this privilege however, assessing a roughly 25% premium in anonymous boxes over the standard boxes which can be associated with a specific owner.
To rent an anonymous box, all one must do is show up during business hours with the appropriate payment in cash. You can pay as far as ten years in advance if you don’t plan on visiting your box often.
While other storage facilities have popped up in Vienna, Das Safe remains the best known. I do believe some of the newer facilities have flashier bells and whistles like the newer storage facilities in Asia.
However, the reasons to come to Das Safe can be counted on one finger: anonymous gold storage. While prices are quite high, it could be well worth it if you’re seeking to truly stay in the shadows for whatever reason.