Nov 17, 2017 Last Updated 3:54 AM, Nov 13, 2017

Fascinated by Versace

Fascinated by Versace
Published: Apr 10, 2011

Ben Knapen

   Indonesian opulence: The 62-year old lawyer Warsito Sanyoto and his
   wife Nila, 32.
   Ahmad “deNy” Salman (reachdeny@gmail.com)

Indonesia is a poor country, at least on average. But there is also a small rich upper layer of the exhibitionist kind.

That Warsito Sanyoto lives here is beyond doubt. His name appears in large letters on the pedestal of one of the statues in the driveway. And that man underneath the pillars and the Arcadian dome standing before his front door, with his striking silk shirt, the gold chains and the rubies in his rings, waving affably – that man we know from the photo.

Warsito Sanyoto (62) is a lawyer of the exhibitionist kind. And superwealthy. He has lived in his dream home three years now, with his (third) wife Nila (32), and for some time now also with their child of 18 months. Warsito is fascinated by Versace and by Italy. Why Italy? ‘Because of the mafia’, he answers with a laugh.

Extravagant is an understatement of his preferences. Domes with Arcadian scenes, pompous sofas with built-in remote controls, classical statues, huge lamps covered in leaf gold, curly balustrades, cupid angels, a fake open hearth, chandeliers, glazed porcelain, a stuffed tiger.

And then his Roman swimming pool – in the middle of the house, and high above it a sliding roof. Female statues with naked upper torsos pour water into the pool like lusty fountains. Flown in from Italy. ‘I played with the idea for a while of becoming mayor of Solo, that’s when I covered the breasts with veils’. Otherwise it might go a bit too far for a would-be politician in a prudish Islamic country. But in the end he dropped the political career. ‘Trust me, I am a lawyer’, is written in big letters next to the swimming pool bar.

‘Trust me, I am a lawyer’, is written in big letters next to the swimming pool bar

A painting a metre and a half wide and three metres tall depicts a Javanese scene. Half naked nymphs descend from heaven. One is losing her dress to the hands of the man who will marry her. That man is Warsito. Each of the six nymphs represents his wife. Nila: ‘I had to pose for days, not with naked breasts, mind you!’

They also have their own mosque in the house, good chilled wine, and a weights-training gym. ‘I work out three times a week, an hour and a half.’ Warsito wants to stay young. His adrenaline also rises for cars. He has everything a boy’s heart could desire: BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche, etc, etc.

Warsito loves to talk about Solo, where his family is of royal blood. His own mausoleum is ready there, with a cupid in the corner, wearing a little loincloth for any possible sensitivities. ‘But I will not make further compromises.’

knapen2.jpg
   Exterior of their dream house
   Ahmad “deNy” Salman (reachdeny@gmail.com)

On the bedroom wall are two plasma flatscreens. One is connected live to the neighbouring children’s room. Flatscreens – Bang & Olufsen – are for that matter everywhere. Wherever you are with Warsito and Nila, you can always hear the noise of the same old Rambo film.

But then Warsito disappears behind a small glass door in their bedroom. It turns out to be a lift that takes him to his walk-in-wardrobe-cum-dressing-room above. So he produces his own epiphany, time and again. A carpet lies there, made of the hides of 200 koala bears. That is how the conversation turns to animals, environment, good causes and what have you. Where do your own philanthropic interests lie? ‘I have for years been a member of The Lions Club.’

Ben Knapen was NRC Handelsblad correspondent in Jakarta. He is now state secretary for Europe and development in the Dutch cabinet. A version of this article first appeared in NRC Handelsblad, 16 April 2007, the fourth in a ten-part series. Translation by Gerry van Klinken. Used with permission.

This article is part of The Rich in Indonesia feature edition.

Inside Indonesia 104: Apr-Jun 2011

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