The difference was explained to me by Stéphan Grouitch in a conference room deep within a mountain in the Swiss Alps, lit by a subterranean buzz of fluorescent lights. To get to here, under more than 3,000 feet of stone and earth, I showed my passport (something I didn’t have to do to enter the country from Germany), had my finger scanned repeatedly, and passed under security cameras and motion detectors. A blast door, thicker than my forearm is long, is said to protect this old Cold War bunker against a 20-megaton bomb.
“The country has always stored valuables for people all around Europe—even before money,” says Grouitch, CEO of Deltalis, the company that owns the bunker. When Deltalis first looked into acquiring the facility from the Swiss military, it considered storing gold bullion here.