After Ferdinand Marcos and his spendthrift wife Imelda Marcos were driven into U.S. exile by a 1986 popular revolt, the world was shocked by the amount of luxury items left behind in the Philippines. There were hundreds of pieces of Ferdinand Marcos’s clothing, including the formal native see-through Barong shirts he wore during his 21 years in power.
But the biggest haul was Imelda Marcos’ legendary stash of shoes – at least 1,220 pairs – after they fled to Hawaii when the army and Filipinos turned against him in a bloodless revolution. When Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos arrived in the U.S., they brought with them hundreds of pieces of jewellery and a couple of dozen gold bricks.
It would take another 31 years for the infamous story of Imelda Marcos’ shoes collection to meet its destiny. It was only in 2017 (last year) that the former first lady of Philippines lost her legal fight to reclaim jewellery confiscated after her dictator husband was ousted. By then some of her collection of shoes had already been damaged by storms and termites.
In February, 2017, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that Imelda Marcos illegally acquired the jewellery, including diamond-studded tiaras and an extremely rare 25-carat pink diamond. Her collection included a golden belt with a diamond buckle, necklaces, brooches, earrings and gems – all of which could result in US$21 million worth of Marcos’s jewellery being auctioned off by the state.
The Philippines Supreme Court found that the jewels could not have been bought by Ferdinand Marcos on his government salary of a few thousands dollars. President Marcos and his family amassed billions during his 21 years in power. What was left of Imelda’s shoe collection was displayed at the presidential palace as a symbol of her lavish lifestyle.
Rosmah Mansor has long been compared to Imelda Marcos. Unlike Imelda, Rosmah, the former first lady of Malaysia has an extraordinary taste for luxury handbags such as Hermes Birkin. And she has collected hundreds of them. Based on the latest evaluation from the police who had seized a total of 567 handbags in 37 different brands, the Hermes bags alone were worth RM51.3 million.
But unlike Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos who successfully fled the country after the 1986 popular revolt, Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor failed to flee Malaysia after stunningly defeated in the recent 2018 general election. The former first family of Malaysia had never thought they could lose and they are paying the price for being over-confident, and arrogant.
The shocking moment everyone has been waiting has finally arrived. After weeks of waiting, the Malaysian Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) director Amar Singh told a press conference today that more than 12,000 pieces of jewellery – comprising 2,200 rings, 1,400 necklaces, 2,100 bracelets, 2,800 pairs of earrings, 1,600 brooches and 14 tiaras – were seized from the six residences related to Mr. Najib and his family members.
According to the authorities, the value of those jewellery items was estimated to be about RM440 million – excluding workmanship costs. The most expensive item was a necklace with a white diamond that was valued at RM6.4 million. The market value of those items would be about 50 to 100% more, hence the total value was estimated to be between RM600 million to RM800 million.
The cash confiscated has risen from initial RM114 million to RM116.7 million. It took the authorities 3 days, 22 officers from Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Bank), and 6 counting machines to count the cash in 26 currencies. Mr. Amar Singh said – “The amount was just too huge. This is the biggest seizure in Malaysian history.”
There were 423 watches from more than 100 brands worth RM78 million and 234 sunglasses worth RM374,000 seized. The most expensive watch was the Rolex Daytona – costing a staggering RM3.5 million. Also seized were 567 handbags from 37 brands that included Hermes, Prada, Versace and Chanel, among others.
There were an eye-popping 272 pieces of Hermes Birkin – valued at RM51.3 million. Rosmah has been criticised for showing off her super expensive Birkin handbags. Little did 32 million Malaysians know that Najib, like his wife, has great taste for hyper-expensive bags too. So, like the legendary criminals Bonnie and Clyde, enter Najib’s “Bijan” – “the world’s most expensive store”.
The police estimated Najib and Rosmah’s Bijan bags alone to be worth RM1.6 million. Since opening in 1976, the “House of Bijan” has produced some of the finest and most expensive clothing, shoes, fragrances and accessories in the world. In fact, Donald Trump is the only president since the 1980s that Bijan hasn’t made suits for. They only make a few and mostly are custom-made.
The “By Appointment Only” store located at Rodeo Drive of the posh Beverly Hills would on average register sales of US$100,000 for each of its clients. A pair of socks would set you back by US$100 while a tie would cost around US$1,200. A suit would cost at least US$25,000. Cashmere, alligator and kangaroo leather are the standard materials used by the “House of Bijan”.
The Bijan also has close collaborations with luxury cars. A month after the designer’s death, Bugatti released a single-unit custom car – the 1001 horsepower Bijan Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport. Costing at US$1 million a pop, Bijan, in collaboration with Royce Royce, had also produced 30 units of limited edition Phantom Drophead Coupe.
The retail cost of all the items seized from six properties linked to Najib totalled RM900 million to RM1.1 billion. Of course, these could be just the tip of the iceberg. Obviously, Imelda Marcos’ 1,220 pair of shoes pale in comparison to Rosmah Mansor’s 12,000 jewelleries. Still, the lavish lifestyle of Marcos wasn’t the reason that inspired Rosmah’s thievery.
What actually inspired Rosmah to steal the peoples’ money was her desire or fantasy to marry into the family of the Sultan of Brunei – according to her friends. She was said to be obsessed with power and wealth. However, she married a businessman instead of the wealthy Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Her ambition didn’t die and when opportunity presents itself, she divorced her husband.
Working for a property company, Rosmah was said to be eyeing former Malacca Chief Minister Rahim Thamby Chik initially, the same guy forced to resign in 1994 after accused of raping an underage school girl. However, Rosmah bet the right horse when she charmed her way to another UMNO rising star – Najib Razak (then Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports).
In 1987, Najib divorced Tengku Puteri Zainah Tengku Eskandar, his first wife, and married Rosmah Mansor. So, a year after Marcos lost power, Rosmah married a man who would become the most powerful – and most corrupted – prime minister of Malaysia. However, it’s too early to tell if Rosmah would, like Imelda Marcos, venture into politics in the event Najib is imprisoned.
Source : Finance Twitter