‘Museum of robbie’ … vanity daw, sabi ni tiglaw!
Once in a while we hear of reports that make you think that we hardly changed from medieval times when a very tiny aristocracy lived in unimaginable luxury while the peasant masses wallowed in horrible misery.
In the late 1960s, it was the report of champagne flowing out of fountains at a party in the mansion of one of the Lopez political-economic elite clan.
In the ‘80s, we had the reports of Marcos crony Herminio Disini buying a castle in Austria, together with its “baron” title, and of course Imelda’s 3,000 shoes and liters of the most expensive French perfume in her bathroom.
I’m not sure if in this decade it is Chavit’s submarine and Bengal tigers.
Now, an article in the US magazine Vanity Fair (July 2013 edition) would make Imelda’s collection of shoes seem so pedestrian. Would anybody buy that from him? That portrait of Robbie probably cost P11 million, just one of 35.
The article reported that 36-year-old has contracted the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhass to design and build his new residence “in Manila’s most exclusive neighborhood,” apparently Forbes Park. Its cost: “upwards to $15 million,” according to the magazine.
In the manner that techno-billionaire Bill Gates dubbed his mansion Xanadu and the late Michael Jackson called his, Neverland, Antonio named his, “Stealth”. Google Rem Koohass and you’d find it hard to believe he accepted a commission for designing a residence—unless rather than the cost of the house, the $15 million refers solely to the architect’s fee.
But that’s just for starters. “Stealth” isn’t just a luxurious residence. It will be an art museum dedicated to Antonio’s face.
Antonio has commissioned six of “the world’s top contemporary artists” (read: most expensive) to paint a series of portraits.
Not just portraits of whoever or whatever, but of Antonio himself in different poses and different painting styles, from the cartoonish by the New Yorker Kenny Scharf (pictured) to what can be described as psychedelic by the Englishman Damien Hirst.
That’s why Vanity Fair despite of its gushing article on Antonio couldn’t help make fun of him by headlining its article : “The Museum of Me”. Vanity Fair reported: “So far, two dozen portraits are under way or completed, with nearly $3 million spent on them.
Antonio is aiming for 35 in the series “by the end of the year, all of which will be housed in a special gallery within Stealth, open only to invited guests.” He calls the series of 35 paintings “Obsession”, obviously very aptly named, and expensive. That’s $250,000 (P11 million) a piece.
And not only paintings, according to Vanity Fair: “The performance artist Marina Abramoviæ, a friend of Antonio’s . . . is contributing a piece to “Obsession” that she calls “The Chamber of Stillness”: a basement room in “Stealth” with a waterfall view that could actually lock him in for periods of up to 60 minutes and force contemplation.”
Who is Abramovic? In 2010, the Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective and performance recreation of Abramoviæ’s work: that has been the biggest exhibition of performance art in MoMA’s history. An art student in New York told me Abramovic would very easily charge $2 million for her “Chamber” in Antonio’s residence.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading: $15 million for the house (assuming total cost, and not only for the architect’s fee), probably $2 million for the lot, based on published Forbes Park prices, plus $3 million so far for paintings, which would increase to $8.8 million when all 35 are finished.
That’s $25.8 million—equivalent to an unbelievable P1.1 billion for Antonio’s monument to himself. One could sense a slight hint of disgust over such display of wealth in the Vanity Fair article, pointing out that the $15 million cost of the Antonio’s house “is in somewhat stark contrast to the average annual Filipino-family income of $4,988.”
And Vanity Fair didn’t even mention Antonio’s black $1 million Maserati he drives around in Manila that gets flooded with just an hours’ rain.
“Museum of Me” owner is Jose Roberto Antonio, the third of the four sons of luxury-condominium developer Century Properties’ founder and owner Jose Antonio, a stock broker who shifted to property development when the market crashed during the political crisis from 1984-1985.
The Vanity Fair article described Robbie’s source of wealth:
“The fortune for this unchained ambition comes from Century Properties, the publicly traded real-estate company founded by Antonio’s father, currently valued at around a half-billion dollars, according to Antonio, who manages the day-to-day operations.
Most of their projects are in Asia, but Antonio also founded a separate, New York-based company to do developments there—including collaboration with I. M. Pei on a luxury condominium, the Centurion.
The family’s wealth is estimated at $300 million.” This $300 million figure appears to come from Forbes magazine’s list of the richest 40 Filipinos in which Robbie’s father Jose is listed 26th, with a net worth of $300 million.
Its ongoing projects, as Antonio described them in a gushing Philippine Star article who dubbed him “The Renaissance Man of the Century”: “The Milano Residences has the bold look of Versace, Azure Urban Resort Residences through its Paris Beach Club has the fun-loving luxury of Paris (Hilton who is its endorser), while Trump Tower Manila serves as the pinnacle of luxury.”
I was wondering what kind of income one would need to be able to splurge on a P1 billion vanity, so I checked the BIR’s list of the country’s top 500 taxpayers for the years 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Funny, I could not find Antonio in those lists, nor his father Jose nor any “Antonio” for that matter.
What’s P1 billion? The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, which funds such activities as microfinancing and scholarships, is capitalized at just P250 million. The tycoons John Gokongwei and Ramon del Rosario are cleverer in getting more bang for their buck.
By donating P250 million each to Ateneo and La Salle, these universities’ business colleges are named after them, and there will be thousands upon thousands of students as long as these institutions exist who would gaze at their schools’ names and remember these tycoons.
How many people would contemplate Robbie’s visage in different styles in his mansion?
The tycoon Henry Sy put through college 1,500 students in the 20 years since he set up his foundation. Low-profile executives and bankers are quietly funding poor students through college as much as their purses allow, as in the case of Stephen CuUnjieng who has 11 scholars at the Ateneo de Manila. Antonio’s P1 billion for his “Museum of Me” could have funded a four-year Ateneo college education for 2,500 students.
But he preferred to splurge on the stratospheric fees of a top global architect and six Manhattan-based artists to build a monument to himself. Antonio though typifies many of country’s ruling class: Third world citizens living the lifestyles of the First World’s haut monde, even ridiculously trying to outdo it.
Among Century Properties developments are Azure Urban Resort Residences, endorsed and partly designed by Robbie’s friend, Paris Hilton
The Trump Tower Manila
and Acqua Iguazu by John Hitchcox and Philippe Starck
Now take a look at some of the portraits in Robbie’s collection—they give a whole new meaning to term “selfie”
Interstellar (Portrait of Robbie Antonio) by Kenny Scharf
o, parasapinga … meronkanyan? hehehe!
parasapinga: walakonyan! pero ang mga mestisong mayayaman merong malakanyan! o, ano?