They robbed their countries blind, spent with impunity and baffled the world with their curious antics, but how did the world's most notorious strongmen invest their ill-gotten gains? Learn how to spend like a dictator from our list of the best of the worst humanity has to offer.
Mohamed Suharto, Indonesia: $15-30 billion
President Mohamed Suharto stacked major weight despite his waifish salary of $1,764 per month. By installing his six kids as the middlemen
(and women) in every conceivable state company, the family raked it in.
But hijacking state enterprises was just one source of income. Every Indonesian Muslim who traveled to Mecca
flew on a plane leased to son Tommy Suharto -- about 5 million trips per year. A 1999 Time magazine investigation
uncovered the Suhartos' stake in more than 600 companies from Uzbekistan to Nigeria.
The family squirreled away vast collections of jewelry and art, but also made sure to stock up on private jets. The Air Suharto fleet
included a Boeing 747 owned by sister Siti, a DC 10, a Boeing 737, and a BAC 111 that was once part of the Royal Squadron of Queen Elizabeth II.
Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines: $5-10 billion
Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda fled the Philippines with suitcases stuffed full of cash, jewelry and gold bricks
. After more than 20 years in power, they left the Philippines one of the world's poorest countries, yet this devious duo had Swiss bank accounts crammed with $5 billion dollars or more.
"I love beauty, and I am allergic to ugliness," said Imelda, whose collection of classical masters included paintings by Michelangelo and Boticelli.
On one New York City spending binge
, Imelda nearly bought the Empire State Building for $750 million, but the Steel Butterfly
said it was "too ostentatious." Sticker shock didn't stop her from picking up the $51 million Crown Center as well as bankrolling the $60 million construction of the Herald Center
across the street from Macy's.
When she and hubby split town, ordinary Filipinos were aghast to find more than 3,000 pairs of shoes, bulletproof bras and gallons of designer perfume in Imelda's closets.
Mobutu Sese Sekou, Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo): $5 billion
Thank Mobutu Sese Sekou for the word kleptocracy
, a term invented to describe his style of government
. "Go ahead and steal," he once told a rally. "But don't steal too much, or you will get caught
." To host the infamous Ali vs. Frazier fight known as "Rumble in the Jungle," Mobutu paid $10 million out of pocket for the one-day event.
When Mobutu went on a Parisian shopping spree, he took the Concorde from a specially built airport in his home town of Gabdolite. Sometimes, however, he would charter the supersonic plane just to see the dentist
. Invited to a French bicentennial celebration by President Francois Mitterand, Mobutu took the Concorde to Marseille with the entire youth choir of Zaire in tow.
Sani Abacha, Nigeria: $2 billion
The reclusive general seized power in a coup, slept all day and filched petrodollars all night. During a 1998 orgy
, Abacha died of a heart attack while in the company of four prostitutes. Supporters say he was poisoned by rivals, but haters say it was a Viagra overdose.
Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, Haiti: $300-$800 million
"Baby Doc" Duvalier married divorcee Míchelle Benet Pasquet despite many warnings of her bad rep -- Pasquet's family was known for trafficking cadavers to foreign medical schools
as well as drugs. The Haitian president threw a $3 million wedding party that enraged the public, but Pasquet later divorced Duvalier, but not before leaving him penniless and ashamed.