Modern Day Harems

Goals

To identify people who have built modern day harems to understand how they have been able to succeed and how to build one legally.

Early Findings

  • Modern-day examples of "harems" are less plentiful, as the practice is generally frowned-upon in modern society. The most well-known examples, Hefner and Bilzerian, have already been covered. However, we were able to find a few more by casting our net to find some more controversial figures from around the world.

THE PRINCE AND SULTAN OF BRUNEI

  • Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei reportedly had around 30-40 women, some younger than 16 years old. One woman, Jillian Lauren, published a memoir of her experience living with the prince, called Some Girls: My Life in a Harem.
  • The Prince is well-known for his extremely conspicuous consumption, reportedly going through billions in spending.
  • Bolkiah owned 250 companies, 2,000 cars, hotels, airplanes and jewels. He was mostly funded by his brother, the Sultan of Brunei, until a fight led them to a publicly nasty court battle in 2011.
  • He was also accused of embezzling from the government of Brunei during his appointment as Finance Minister.
  • Reportedly, the Sultan and Jefri both shared an extremely hedonistic lifestyle. While technically only allowed 4 wives under Muslim law, they frequently abandoned their official marriages and apparently sent trusted advisers "to comb the globe for the sexiest women they could find in order to create a harem the likes of which the world had never known."
  • The brothers were frowned upon by the third Bolkiah brother, Mohamed, who followed a more traditional lifestyle with one wife and modest living.
  • Additionally, one of the women the brothers recruited, formed Miss USA Shannon Marketic, sued them each for $10 million claiming she was effectively held prisoner (her passport was seized) and forced to attend parties and undergo frequently STD testing. The suit was dismissed, as the sovereign family had immunity. Anecedotally, it did result in less Western women being invited.
  • Jefri insisted the women call him Robin.
  • Aside from coercive, illegal methods to keep women close to him, Jefri also showered them with expensive gifts, paid off their expenses back home and offered them cosmetic surgery.
  • The Prince has been lying low since the legal tangle in 2011, though he has reportedly reconciled with the Sultan. He reportedly still continues his lavish lifestyle, though since there are no media reports on his harem, he has gone quiet about it.

KING MSWATI III

  • The absolute monarch of Swaziland, King Mswati III, is known to have at least 15 wives.
  • He has a reputation for his extremely lavish lifestyle, which is controversial as many citizens of the country are starving. His household budget tops $61 million, and he is said to be worth over $200 million despite the extreme poverty of the country.
  • Before him, Mswati's father reportedly had 125 wives (he has passed away, so we will not cover him here), so in this instance that is clearly where Mswati's influence came from.
  • Mswati has been accused of kidnapping women he desires for his harem, but this has not been proven.

KING MAHA VAJIRALONGKORN

  • Thailand's king made the news just last month by being the first ruler to officially practice polygamy in almost a century. He annointed one of his mistress as an offical consort.
  • The king has already been married three times previously and is known for his penchant for women.
  • Not much is known about the King's exact activities with women, as there is a Thai law and press restrictions against criticizing the monarch.

ADNAN KHASHOGGI

  • The Saudi arms broker reportedly had at least 11 "pleasure wives" whom he rewarded with a life of absolutely luxury,
  • One of these women, Jill Dodd, stated the arrangement was completely consensual, unlike our previous examples.
  • Dodd was recruited when, "Khashoggi, who died in June aged 81, first seduced her by writing his name in blood on her arm in a French nightclub and then whisked her away to his Saudi palace where he installed her in a compound comprising of several suites and cottages occupied by members of his modern day harem."
  • She later left Khashoggi amicably, and they continued to be friends after.
  • Dodd states it was a typical relationship of beautiful younger women with a rich, powerful older man who can financially maintain a certain lifestyle.

ANALYSIS

  • Similar to the previous research, most of these 'harems' are formed around rich, powerful men, usually older. They lavash their chosen women with gifts and certain lifestyle. While some are marred by illegal, coercive practices to keep women close, others (like Hefner and Khashoggi) are entirely consentual arrangements where women are attracted to the riches and power.
  • All the men found so far are extremely wealthy and usually already in a position of international power and/or fame (either a monarch, relative of a monarch or extremely powerful businessman).
  • The women are usually young, attractive, and relatively well-educated (the ones we know of, anyway). They come from quintessientially "good" backgrounds before following these men.

Proposed next steps:

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Our initial research found more examples of men that have attracted multiple women to form a type of 'harem'. As there are not many examples left living, especially as the practice becomes less and less acceptable in more parts of the world, we recommend now turning to history to find 3-4 more examples of men that have successfully formed a 'harem'. We will stick to the past 100 years and for each, find information about the man, the details and circumstances and the type of women they usually recruited.