We drive down a dusty street in the northern suburbs of Bucharest.
The surface is rough and cracked; there are nails sticking up that have been bent over by the traffic. Weeds grow through the pavement and a parking area is strewn with rubbish.
Along one side of the road, you can see what seems to be a small warehouse, with a door marked out for the security guard. It’s a fairly ugly building from the outside.
But it’s not a warehouse anymore. This is the home of the Tate brothers, a short distance from the runway of the city’s airport, backing onto what looks like scrubland. Peer through the bars on the gate, though, and you see a very different world.
There is a looming statue in the front yard, a swimming pool, the word “Tate” picked out in large scrolled writing on two walls, and, most notably, four expensive cars parked by the far wall. A Porsche, a BMW, an Aston Martin and a Rolls-Royce.
Two of them have British personal plates that start with T8, for Tate. I later check and discover that one of them is many months late for its MoT.
This is the house that has been featured in various short films made by Andrew Tate, celebrating his opulent lifestyle. Now, it is quiet.
There are several security men wandering around, presumably to keep an eye on the expensive cars and to ensure that nobody breaks into a house that is now, famously, unoccupied but, just as famously, full of expensive decoration.
We ring the bell, but nobody answers. The house, and its contents, have now been seized by the Romanian government as part of its prosecution of the brothers. Should they ultimately be found guilty then all these things can be sold off to pay for costs and compensation.
It is here that the Tates are alleged to have orchestrated their plan to lure women to Romania and then coerce them into working on pornographic webcams.
It’s also here that Andrew Tate set up base for his Hustlers University business, which has been described as both a pyramid-selling scheme and a machine to bolster his own online presence.
Neighbours told us that they had seen plenty of coming and going from the house. One described the Tates using a Romanian word that roughly translates as “wheeler-dealers”.
Another said that they had been unpopular during the summer, when they revved their cars at night, while the rest of the block was trying to sleep with their windows open.
Others, though, pointedly made no comment. I spoke to plenty of people in the area, and very few wanted to talk about their notorious neighbours, even in passing. Allegations involving the words “organised crime” often tend to do that.
When they were arrested, the allegations seemed extraordinary. The brothers are not simply accused of breaking the law, but of being involved in truly heinous acts.
Somehow, despite the ghastly precedents of recent years, it still seems disconcerting to find high-profile characters being linked to such terrible acts. Crimes that we should record, they deny.
But now that the dust has settled, the case feels more real and tangible. The wheels of justice are turning and, to prove that, we moved from their house to the looming Court of Appeal in the middle of Bucharest.
And it was there that the Tate brothers lost an appeal against their own detention, as well as the seizure of their assets.
During a hearing that went on for more than five hours, and which was held in private, they both spoke, along with two other defendants, Alexandra Luana Radu and Georgiana Naghel.
But it was to no effect. Their lawyer argued that there was little evidence against them, and that there was no reason to think they would flee the country. Instead, the two judges, both women, upheld the original decision to hold them in custody for 30 days until the end of January.
It’s very likely that the prosecution will seek to extend that detention in the weeks to come. Nobody expects this case, full of complexities and controversy, to come to court very soon.
And in the meantime, in that drab street in Voluntari, the curious Tate residence will stand empty. A testament to an empire that has, at least for the time being, ground to a halt.