When we read about the biblical Solomon we know him for his love for women and how his quiver was full of 700 wives and 300 concubines. It is a lifestyle everyone couldn’t fathom. That would not be all about Solomon, we also remember him for vast wisdom and wealth; often we are made to believe that no king has been as wealthy as Solomon who decorated the temple of God with special ornaments.
Obviously in modern history we have someone who lives in opulence; Hassanal Bolkiah. He is called ‘the gold king,’ keep reading you would know why soon.
Hassanal Bolkiah is the sultan of Brunei; a small Islamic nation on the island of Borneo in southeastern Asia. The 73 years old Sultan was born on the 15th of July 1946 to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien had 10 children, 6 daughters and 4 sons, with several wives but chose Bolkiah to succeed him from an early age.
According to his official biography, he also is the prime minister, defense minister, finance minister and foreign minister. He became a crowned prince at the age of 15, in 1961, and was crowned Brunei’s 29th sultan in August 1968, the year his father abdicated. Before Hassanal took over from his father; Brunei was greatly wealthy already due to its oil resources.
Sultan Hassanal is the second longest current monarch on the throne after Queen Elizabeth II. He ascended the throne while Brunei was still a British protectorate. He studied at a military academy in Britain (UK’s Royal Military Academy) before becoming sultan. His secondary school was at Victoria Institution School Malaysia. He is also known for regaining the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1984. When he left secondary school in 1965, at the age of 19, he got married to his cousin Pengiran Anak Saleha in an arranged marriage.
In 1981, Bolkiah got married again to a non-royal flight attendant Mariam Haji Abdul Aziz. The marriage ended in 2003. In 2005, the Sultan married his third wife, Malaysian TV anchor Azrinaz Mazhar Hakim. She was 33 years younger than he was and they got divorced in 2010. The sultan maintained low profile during his teen but was greatly influenced into the lavish lifestyle by his brother Prince Jefri Bolkiah.
His net worth and life of opulence
Sultan Hassanel Bolkiah’s net worth at April 2020 is at $25 billion one of the wealthiest according to Forbes. For decades, the sultan was the richest man on earth with a net worth of about $40 billion until later in the 90s when Bill Gates topped the list.
Brunei formally gained her independence from UK in 1984, and to mark this occasion Bolkiah needed to do something that would leave a landmark. That was why he commissioned a $600 million palace known as ‘Istana Nurul Imam’ with a garage space for 800 cars. The 1,778-room palace covers an estimated 2.2 million square feet (50 acres). This design was made by an architect Leandro Locsin. The palace was named the ‘world’s largest residential palace’ by Guinness World Records. It has 57 bathrooms and a huge, lavish throne room.
Around same time, Bolkiah paid $70 million for an oil painting: ‘Young girls at the Piano’ by a French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The Sultan has a striking lavish craving for automobiles. Bolkiah has 500 Rolls Royces, and share a collection of over 5,000 cars with Prince Jefri. When they were younger, it was reported that both of them raced Ferrari super cars through Brunei’s capital Bandar Seri Begwan in the middle of the night.
During the 1990s, the Sultan’s family reportedly accounted for almost half of all Rolls Royce purchases in the world. Guinness World Record awarded him with largest Rolls Royce collection in 2011. Bolkiah owns more cars with a combined worth of $4 billion which includes 500 Rolls Royce. His fleet of cars would include: Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, Bentley Continental R, Ferrari Mythos concept car, both Ferrari 456 GT Sedans, the only right-hand drive Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR in the world, and 5 McLaren F1s.
Even as he aged he did not really give up on excessive spending habit as he often spends $20,000 for a single haircut. Bolkiah flies out his favourite barber from London, according to ‘The Times’ where he would work at the Dorchester hotel in Mayfair.
“He goes regularly, sometime every three to four weeks. The sultan flies him first-class at a cost of about $12, 000. Everything is paid for; Hotel, luxury food. ‘It’s a case of just keep signing, that’s all’. The barber is then given an envelope with thousands of dollars in, the Times said.
A golf course at one of his hotels was designed by Jack Nicklaus, one of the world’s most successful golfers. The Sultan bought himself a Boeing 747 which costs nothing less than $400 million and had it kitted out with $120 million worth of accessories like solid gold wash basins.
See video below:
More photos of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah fleet of cars: