Big spender with a playboy image

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The Independent Online
Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the flamboyant finance minister of the oil- rich kingdom of Brunei, is by far the less reserved of the two main Brunei royals. Yesterday's purchase of Asprey's - of which he was a big client - is the latest in a string of private investments which have earned him a playboy image.

Both Prince Jefri and the Sultan, the world's richest man, enjoy polo and collecting expensive cars. But there the similarity ends. The Sandhurst-trained Sultan, 49, takes his role as the head of a Muslim state very seriously, according to his aides. "He is a very shy man who does his best to keep a low profile,'' says one insider. "If stories of huge wealth start appearing , it's usually because of Prince Jefri."

It was Prince Jefri, not the Sultan, who hired Rod Stewart to perform at his son's birthday party in August. It was Prince Jefri who ordered Rolls-Royce to go back to the drawing board and design a Bentley estate worth pounds 500,000. It was Prince Jefri who paid pounds 55m for the old Playboy Club, his Park Lane home, and had the builders excavate a spectacular atrium from within its seven storeys.

Separating who owns what in the Brunei royal family can be a tricky business. Many of the investments, such as the Dorchester, Beverley Hills Hilton and the New York Palace Hotel are owned by the Brunei Investment Agency.

Between them the two royals own more than 20 residences in and around London and countless properties abroad. The Sultan is said to have a pounds 22bn fortune and an oil income of pounds 6m a day on which no tax is levied. But neither he nor the BIA confirm or deny assets or transactions.