U.S. federal agents moved to seize the $30 million Malibu mansion of Teodoro "Teodorin" Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of Equatorial Guinea's strongman president this week, which happened to contain a host of luxury goods -- not least a $1.1 million collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including the King of Pop's "white crystal covered 'Bad Tour' glove" and his MTV Music Awards "moon man" trophy.
Whether it's tacky erotic art, fast cars, or fancy weapons, autocrats have often displayed something of a penchant for collecting.
Collection: Fantasy art
In one of Saddam's mansions, U.S. forces uncovered what's been described as a "1960s-style love nest -- a mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, and fantasy-art paintings featuring scantily-clad, bodacious women and buff warriors."
The Guardian's art critic, Jonathan Jones, was withering in his assessment: "They are from the universal cultural gutter. They look spraypainted, in a rampant hyperbolic style where all men are muscular, all women have giant breasts and missiles are metal cocks. These are art for the barely literate, or the barely sentient, dredged from some red-lit back alley of the brain." Jones described the paintings as evidence of a man "who seems on this evidence to have lived according to aestheticised, eroticised violence for which no one has yet come up with a better word than "fascism"."
Rowena Morell, the artist behind some of the paintings, was outraged as well, telling the New York Daily News, "I would give anything to get them back. I am so upset that they are there.... I don't like the idea of them being in that country.