A catalogue of the private opulence and eccentric tastes of 70-year-old Ayatollah Khamenei and his family has been compiled by Iran's opposition Green Movement from the accounts of the defector, who is said to be in hiding in France.
Smart man to be hiding in France; we all know what happens to people who criticize the Iranian regime. Although I'm not sure how safe he will be. So, other than his penchant for caviar and trout, he is also
... an avid hoarder of collectables from bejewelled pipes to fine horses; and that he suffers regular bouts of depression which are treated in part by audiences with a mid-ranking mullah who tells vulgar jokes.
Living a double life as an austere theocrat in public, and an epicure in private- no wonder he's depressed. And vulgar jokes? Ha! I guess dirty jokes are in and Prozac is out. And that doesn't sound particularly pious to be using vulgar jokes as a form of therapy. And the man's a collector of fine (and obviously expensive) things to boot. He owns 170 antique walking sticks and at least 100 of the finest horses in Iran, not to mention his palaces- all 6 of them.
Ayatollah Khamenei is claimed to have accumulated a sprawling private court that stretches across six palaces, including Niavaran, the former resident of the Shah in Tehran. Two of the palaces - Niavaran and Vakilabad - are equipped with deep, reinforced concrete nuclear bunkers said to be capable of withstanding nuclear attack. A fully functioning hospital is overseen by a former health minister.
Then we have the following:
Claims from three intelligence officials, who have also fled Iran, have additionally documented the Khamenei family's wide-reaching business connections, including interests in European manufacturers, African mobile phone companies and international commodities markets.
You wonder where all their money is stashed. Switzerland, probably. Or the Cayman Islands. But the opposition Green Movement's exiled leader, film director Mohsen Makmalbaf seems to have information regarding his investments and wants the West to act on that info.
Mr Makmalbaf claimed the Green Movement had gathered information about the Khamenei family's investments abroad. "If the Western governments are serious enough in putting pressure on the regime by applying economic sanctions, then they should follow these leads and find these bank accounts and confiscate their deposits to be returned to the Iranian people at a later time," he said.
Before defecting, the bodyguard was one of a 200 personal security force for Khameini. I suppose you'd need that many when you are so loved. The fact that he denied rumours that Khameini also indulges in opium, which seem to be pretty widespread in Iran, seems to lend credence to his claims regarding the Ayatollah's other excesses.
None of this is surprising, of course, considering most of the ruling elite in authoritarian, totalitarian, communist, Islamic or other oppressive regimes always prosper while the population suffers.
There's nothing worse than religious hypocrisy.