Prince Jefri Bolkiah’s naked statues even make the lawyers blush


Prince Jefri Bolkiah (fully clothed)

Even the lawyers didn’t know where to look when the question of Prince Jefri Bolkiah’s sculptures came up in court in New York yesterday. Prince Jefri, the so-called “playboy” brother of the very, very rich Sultan of Brunei, apparently commissioned the well-known ultra-realist American artist, J Seward Johnson to make a sensitive and realistic study of some tender moments between himself and his fiancee.

Awakening by J. Seward Johnson

A great thing for a very, very rich brother of an even richer Sultan to commission. after-all, too few of our richest people put their money into the arts these days and J. Seward Johnson has done some very impressive work. Like the gigantic and anguished Awakening…..

Big Kiss by J. Seward Johnson

and the joyfully romantic Big Kiss. Both works are celebrated and admired by the many people who see these very theatrically conceived pieces in their very public locations.


 J. Seward Johnson



Even J. Seward Johnson’s more nakedly direct works are on public display like the playful Daydream with its very naughty little boy watching a liberated game of ring-a-ring-roses.

Daydream by J. Seward Johnson

It is a shame then when Prince Jefri, such a distinguished and public-spirited  citizen of the world, should spend all that money ($800,000, we are told), that we may not get to see J. Seward Johnson’s  series of four sculptures of Jefri and his future wife going through some of the positions of the Kama Sutra. They have only come to light at all because the prince’s brother, the Sultan has been trying to get some of Brunei’s money back which, allegedly, he thinks his “playboy” brother has been squandering overseas.

Prince Jefri on the job (censored detail) by J. Seward Johnson


The Sultan probably doesn’t realize that Prince Jefri is a patron of the arts and here in the UK we are going to need plenty of people like him to step in now that the government has made a 29% in British arts funding. 

The only trouble is with this sort of patronage is that we never get to see it. The Prince On The Job, or whatever it is entitled, is languishing in the garage of one of the Prince’s estates which is involved in a messy legal case with the Prince’s lawyers. 
A shame – apparently it is very realistic and shows off the prince in maybe more than just a good light.  His only complaint, or so I hear, is that Prince Jefri would have liked it to have been even more realistic so Mr. J. Seward Johnson was asked to add a moustache. Quite right too – Prince Jefri does need to be recognised for his achievements.
When the law case is settled, it would be generous indeed if Prince Jefri could donate the sculpture to a major Art Gallery – it would be bound to bring in lots of art lovers. I wonder what this public spirited aristocrat will do with his money next. Let’s hope, whatever it is, it is left languishing in some old garage somewhere.

Exciting news that today is the day that Oakleys, the respected Lewes estate agents, promised that they would take down that For sale sign that sits right in front of my living room window (see last week’s blog). It will happen today won’t it?

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STEPHEN DEARSLEY’S SUMMER OF LOVE BY COLIN BELL

My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published  on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.

You can  pre-order the book from the publishers, Ward Wood Publishing:
…or from Book Depository:

…or from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Stephen%20Dearsley’s%20Summer%20Of%20love

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