Robbie Antonio with a Kenny Scharf painting, just one of the many portraits he has commissioned featuring himself. (Photo by Jason Schmidt for Vanity Fair)
Filipino real estate developer and art collector Robbie Antonio, 36, definitely caused a lot of buzz when it was revealed that he was featured in the July 2013 issue of Vanity Fair.
In the article "The Museum of Me," Vanity Fair writer Ted Loos noted that Antonio had scored a coup when he tapped Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to take on "his first residential commission in 15 years." That would be Antonio's house in an exclusive gated community somewhere in Metro Manila. The said residence is expected to be completed by July this year. Antonio has named his house "Stealth." To get an idea of the Koolhaas' reputation, just consider the fact that TIME magazine put him in their list of the Top 100 of The World's Most Influential People in 2008.
Loos observed: "The Manila home serves as a museum for Antonio's ever expanding art collection, with works by the likes of Damien Hirst, Francis Bacon, and Jeff Koons. The building, by Koolhaas and his team at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), is referred to by the name Antonio gave it, Stealth. Its cost—upwards of $15 million—is in somewhat stark contrast to the average annual Filipino-family income of $4,988 (around P209,000)."
"Selfies" as art
Loos further noted that Antonio's "museum" will also house "a series of portraits of himself by some of the world's top contemporary artists, including Julian Schnabel, Marilyn Minter, David Salle, Zhang Huan, members of the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and Takashi Murakami." Yes, that's right. Antonio has commissioned each of the said artists to paint or render his portrait in their chosen medium. There are a good number of paintings. There are also mixed media or graphic art pieces.
Robbie Antonio, as envisioned by Takashi Murakami. (Photo by Jason Schmidt for Vanity Fair)
Loos also added: "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."
While there are those who think that Antonio is entitled to spend his money however he sees fit, former presidential spokesperson for former President Gloria Arroyo and current columnist of The Manila Times, Rigoberto Tiglao expressed that he was disturbed by the Vanity Fair feature on Antonio. In a June 23 article, Tiglao said:
"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 hour's rain.
'Museum of Me' owner 'Robbie' 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."
But, of course, Antonio's probably oblivious to naysayers. (FV)
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