The crazy hedonistic life of Brunei's Prince Jefri
At one point Prince Jefri Bolkiah spent upwards of $50 million a month. Here’s where most of that money went.Meryl D'Souza October 31, 2016
For those of you who haven’t heard of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, he is the youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. The brothers were dubbed “constant companions in hedonism” by Mark Seal in his Vanity Fair story from 2011. It was in that article that Prince Jefri picked up the monicker of having "probably gone through more cash than any other human being on earth".
In 1983, Hassanal named Jefri as the head of the Brunei Investment Agency (B.I.A.), which manages the country’s vast oil revenues. A year later, Brunei gained independence from the United Kingdom and with that began Jefri's reign of hedonism.
By 1986, Jefri was made the minister of finance and perhaps unsurprisingly in 1987, Hassanal was named the richest man in the world. The brothers were unparalleled in their hedonism. They gambled in London, raced their Ferraris in Brunei and bought hotels in the United States. That’s not to say they completely neglected their homeland. The brothers built schools and hospitals and even introduced satellite TV to the tiny nation on the island of Borneo.
Their lives became the envy of all men. Including their brother, Prince Mohamed. He was far more conservative than his brothers and waited for a chance to knock them off their perch.
He had his chance after Prince Jefri faced a series of scandals, including Shannon Marketic, a former Miss USA, suing Jefri and the sultan for $10 million and the release of Jillian Lauren’s highly-publicised book Some Girls where she detailed her time in Jefri’s harem.
Eventually, Jefri's penchant for the high life caught up with him. It was eventually discovered that he had blown through $14.8 billion in his 15 years as head of the Brunei Investment Agency. At one point, he was reportedly spending $50 million a month.
Even if it was excessive and by unlawful means, Prince Jefri lived the kind of life that would put the rich kids of Instagram and the lavish lives of tech geeks to shame. Here are some of the highlights.
No MJ no party
Jefri brought Michael Jackson to perform at his 50th birthday and paid him $17 million. Not only that, but the stadium MJ performed in had been built exclusively for that occasion.
Jefri threw all-night parties with women dancing and singing karaoke for a fee of about $1 million or more. The parties were usually at his Assurur Palace residence where a mirrored ball would drop from the ceiling, signalling that he was on his way and for the women to start dancing.
He imported planeloads of polo ponies and players from Argentina - a country known for its polo history - to play the game in his personal grounds. Prince Charles, allegedly, sometimes joined them.
Rich people need to keep fit too and Jefri’s preferred sport was badminton. However, he paid $1.5 million for a coach.
Riders on the storm
He owned a total of 2,300 cars. Almost all of which were either Bentleys, Ferraris or Rolls-Royces. Each of the Rolls were inscribed with the message ”Built by Rolls-Royce for His Royal Highness Prince Jefri.”
When cars are too mainstream
Apart from cars, Jefri owned a fleet of boats that included a yacht named 'Tits' with its tenders named Nipple 1 and Nipple 2. He also owned eight private jets and a helicopter.
Rugs are riches
He once spent $7 million on a rug that was woven with gold thread and jewels.
Jefri commissioned artist J. Seward Johnson to create an $800,000 sexually explicit statue of himself and his ex-fiancée.
Timepieces and pens
He owned 10 jewel-encrusted wristwatches worth $8 million, which on the hour depicted a couple copulating. He paid $1.3 million on similarly erotic fountain pens.
An eye for business
He owned a clutch of five-star hotels including London's the Dorchester, the New York Palace, the Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles.
Clothes maketh the man
Jefri and Hassanal would empty stores like Armani in a single visit, buying 100 suits of the same colour. Because, you know, the world’s most powerful people always dress the same.
What asking price?
He bought the former Playboy Club in London for $34 million, more than four times the market price. He did the same thing with Asprey, the London jeweller to the Queen, paying $385 million - twice its estimated market value.
Diamonds are forever
On being busted, he surrendered five diamonds to the BIA. Each of those stones was worth $200 million. But he left off his disclosure list entire cimpanies, account numbers, art and jewellery that it was believed he had acquired.