Friday, 4 September 2015

Inside Late Deinde Fernandez’s Multi-Billion Dollars Peninsular on New York Island + How he made his first Million Dollars @ 18


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Fernandez; More Helicopter View of his Peninsular Home

The road to the Peninsula is like the road to heaven.  It is narrow and long winding.  It would take a determined traveler to meander his way to the very last of the islands.  Even then, only privileged few are allowed to drive, or walk (most unlike), on that beautiful road with several awe-inspiring bridges.  Stern-faced security men stop all visitors, including the domestic staff for a brief chat.  Driving the owner’s car is no guarantee of a smooth-snail.  Such is the elaborate security network on the island.
As soon as the traveler passes through the eye of the needle, he is confronted by some little islands, in various degrees of opulence, each belonging to different categories of the super-rich.  As you continue to rigmarole your way through the labyrinthine setting, you begin to imagine what your final destination holds in store for you.  When you eventually arrive, you cannot but agree that the king himself lives here.  It’s indeed Gatsby’s country.
Fernandez; A Helicopter Aerial View of Peninsular Home


Fernandez; His Living Room on the Peninsular
THE MAIN BUILDING
The original structure was substantially altered by the new owner, Ambassador Chief Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez, a perfectionist who wanted to create an architectural wonder.  In other hands, the Peninsula would probably have been a museum.  It is so monumental that even the richest man in the world would be intimidated by its sheer size and presence.
A giant door, about four inches thick, with a glowing crest, with eerie inscriptions of a confraternity, welcomes the visitor.  The king of the house is a traditional African who romanticizes the beliefs and religions of his forebears. He is a titled member of Yoruba’s highest cult, the Ogboni, which conferred on him one of its topmost titles: OLUWO.  Inside the house, his paraphernalia adorn a lot of his portraits.  Like most Africans whose attitude to religion is syncretic, he respects the religions of his people, especially Islam and Christianity.
Fernandez; A part of his Peninsular
Fernandez, late wife with late Alake of Egba Land
Chief Fernandez is a proud descendant of the Olumegbon family of Lagos, whose ancestry date back to the 17th century. They are Muslims and this is well-represented in the home of Fernandez.  As you turn the fat knob of the main door and push the heavy “artifact” inwards, a portrait of a praying Muslim confronts you.  It is a symbol of the Olumegbon clan which Fernandez holds very dear to heart.  If you turn left, you will see a waiting room.  If you turn right, a passage leads you to an office where a stuffed lioness stares at you, and many portraits of African heroes like Nelson Mandela and Obafemi Awolowo greet you.
Fernandez; A Part of his magnificent Sitting Room
Fernandez; Another Part of his Living Room
The whole building is like a well-choreographed orchestra.  Every room is a coordinated art.  No space is wasted.  Every choice of decoration is special and stylish.  Don’t forget that the lovely lady of the house, a ravishing beauty, is an accomplished artist with an eye for the best. A great deal of time, energy, effort, imagination, creativity and money must have gone into tendering such a stupendous edifice.

“But pancake-frying women would soon constitute a nuisance in his neighborhood. And, he dared not complain, or they would tell him “Baba Onile gogoro, o wa gbele ru” (the owner of a tall building, why not carry the house on your head).  He would try to start some factories in Nigeria, but government bureaucracy would knock him out”
Fernandez; Aerial View of New York Peninsular

The couple of the house has a wonderful combination of staff to assist in keeping the house in order.  There is the ubiquitous caretaker, Jack, an elderly African from Burkina Faso, who has worked with Chief for twenty years.  There is Joan, a burly Brazilian, who oversees the great task of keeping the exterior clean.  There are two housekeepers from Peru, Jackie and Sara, two friendly ladies.  And the two jet-set guys who make things happen – Charles, a Greek, and Karim, an Algerian.  They fly all over the world, with or without, the influential Chief.
Fernandez; His Study Theartre
Fernandez; A Catholic Pope in the House to intercede for the Farnandez
SEEING IS BELIEVING
The best novelist in the world would find it hard to describe the Peninsula.  Where does one begin?  The bedroom?  The Guest section mainly reserved for President Nelson Mandela?, if he feels like coming “home” to rest, anytime.  The parlors with their rainbows of elegant colors?.. Only pictures can tell the stories.
Deinde Fernandez
Fernandez; Front View of The Peninsular
A WANDERER’S DELIGHT
A walk through the Peninsula is a big journey.  As you move from one part to another, you experience an epic feeling in form of streams of consciousness and flashes of inspiration.  Take example of these notes:
Doors:  There are doors everywhere, over 200 in the whole palace.  Each bears an emblem, which is the map of Africa.  Fernandez is one man who is proud of his heritage. The doors are in various shapes and sizes. The wardrobes have similar doors.  In them, are neatly arranged dresses, shoes, bags, caps, ties, belts from the world’s greatest designers – Valentino, Lanvin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ralph Lauren, Escada, Bruno Magli, YSL, Bally, Channel, Ungaro, John Lobb, Bucheron, Sulka, Jhane Barnes, Gucci, Stratton Crooke…
The door handles were made in California.  On each of the faceplates is inscribed: “Agbo meji kii momi nikoto” (two rams cannot drink from the same bucket).  And there are African maps on everything, including the hinges.
The Paradize lane to his Bedroom and his majestic walking sticks
WINES
Chief Fernandez is obviously a great connoisseur of vintage wines.  He keeps a cellar where esoteric wines assault the face – Maisons Marques & Domaines – Oakland (1977), Corton Granay Grand Cru (1996), Chateau Cheval Blanc (1985), Sauternes (1990) etcetera.  The one that takes the cake is the Cristal Champagne by Louis Roederer, millennium champagne, 2000 bottles of which were produced for worldwide enjoyment. Chief has four bottles of the wine resting peacefully inside some massive caskets.
Fernandez; Aerial (Back View) of his Peninsular
ARTS
Everywhere you look; there are enough masterpieces to make a collector green with envy.  There are antiques.  There are contemporary carvings and paintings.  Ben Enwonwu’s carvings stand out.  Everything for Fernandez is an art.  He once ordered dozens of Louis Vuitton suitcases with his special crest engraved on all of them.
Chief is a great lover of music and a great Sinatra fan.  In most exotic hotels around the world, in-house artiest know his taste.  A rendition of MY WAY by Sinatra would automatically earn the singer some wads of minty 100 dollar bills, at The Ritz in Paris or The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, near Knightsbridge in London.
Chief (Mrs.) Aduke Olufunmilayo Fernandez, the Erelu Apesin of Egbaland since June 28, 1995, is also a lover of arts. Some of her unfinished paintings can be found in her personal kitchen.  Chief Deinde Fernandez, the tall business tycoon, loves to hold walking sticks made of gold, white fold, corals, ivory, ebony and rubies.  His crest suggests the impossibility of a dog defeating a tiger in a battle.
Fernandez; The Lion Symbol of his Authority
FOOD
Great attention is devoted to preparing good food in the house.  Just enter Madame’s kitchen and you will see culinary wonders.  No Mandarin could boast of having more cookery books than Chief (Mrs.) Fernandez.  There are cabinets with all manners of food items, oils, spices, juices, dishes, cups, glasses, knives, all kinds of bottles – oblong, rectangular, rotund, square – and the ovens are massive.  Magazines on all subjects are neatly arranged in files.
Even her daughters love cooking.  Princess Abimbola, for example, makes cookies for sale (as a hobby).  She even has her own cash register.  She enjoys collecting as little as 27 cents for her swear (talk of a business girl in the house). 
Ajinijini Ogun, Oladeiinde Fernandez
The chef of the house operates from another kitchen, which has all the facilities to cater for top celebrities, many of who drop by once in a while.  Chief’s love for good food was demonstrated recently when he employed an Argentine chef.  The manner of employment was dramatic.  He had contracted The Ritz to recommend a very good chef.
The name of a young man called Christian surfaced but he was said to be in Italy.  Chief located him, talked some deals and the chef couldn’t resist the offer.  Chief was elated.  He quickly bought a home costing about $400,000 to house Christian. Not only that, he sent Christian to London to learn how to prepare Nigerian dishes like asaro (yam porridge), Jollof rice etc.  He got his tutorials from the Buka Restaurant on Kilburn High Road and from the wife of OVATION publisher Mrs. Bolaji Momodu.  He soon flew back to New York, ready for the Chief.
Fernandez inside Private Jet
LIFE OF A LEGEND
When the young Anthonio Fernandez migrated to the United States of America on June 8, 1954, he was barely 18.  Like many young men of those days, America held out so much promise as the fabled land of opportunity.
Before his epic journey, he had spent time at various popular schools in Lagos like The Holy Cross, Saint Gregory’s and C.M.S Grammar School.  Even at that early stage, he was well-known for his incredible height.  And he was a hustler, who tried to give himself a good life.  He had a troublesome bicycle at Greg’s, the tires of which were always going flat.  Unknown to him then, he was destined for greatness.
America would turn his ambitious dreams into reality.  Two years after the eagle landed, Fernandez made his first million.  According to close sources, the money came from the most unexpected place – Jos, Nigeria.  The sociable man had ordered for some bauxite ore, which was in dire demand in America.  The mineral laid fallow in Jos.  All he had to do was to arrange its shipment to America.  By the time it came, Fernandez was on his way to being one of the world’s richest men.
Money begets money.  Fernandez understood this very well.  He started thinking of how to recycle his wealth and make it bigger.  He would touch a few other good businesses. He would meet kings and Presidents.  The African Prince would begin to carry his height proudly like a true blue blood.  He would be crowned all over the world as King Midas and as an international negotiator, a quintessential peacemaker.  The color of his skin will matter less.
Years later, he would go into oil exploration and make it so big.  He would be named Ambassador of other nations but his own country, for his people are not known to support success.  They relish in backbiting and self-destruction.  He would build a TOWER FERNANDEZ in his native Lagos Island.  But pancake-frying women would soon constitute a nuisance in his neighborhood. And, he dared not complain, or they would tell him “Baba Onile gogoro, o wa gbele ru” (the owner of a tall building, why not carry the house on your head).  He would try to start some factories in Nigeria, but government bureaucracy would knock him out.  He had other bitter encounters.  And, he stopped doing business with Nigeria.
Fernandez; His Dress Room
Fernandez; Staircase to one of his living rooms in the Peninsula
The story of Fernandez is an epic.  He would establish a solid reputation as ‘Mr. Fix It’.  His name would reverberate across the world as a diplomat of diplomats.  At the United Nations, friends and colleagues would come to see him as an avuncular figure.  Nations would engage his services, in order to make the near – impossible possible.  And he is so efficient, smooth and dashing.  His business card today reads:

“CHIEF ANTONIO DEINDE FERNANDEZ
Grand Officier de I’ordre
National du Leopard
Grand Officer de I’ Order du Mono
Commander de I’ Order National du Merite
Centrafricain
Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative to the united
Nations and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs”

If that is not an achievement, nothing is. At 64, Fernandez continues to dream of a powerful mother Africa, a continent that can join the comity of other continents in their march towards prosperity.
Fernandez; Another Magnificent Part of his Peninsular Home
THE PROFESSOR IBRAHIM GAMBARI’s TESTIMONY
Ovation Magazine visited one of Africa’s most experienced diplomats, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, Under Secretary – General and Special Adviser on Africa, in his 37th floor office at the United Nations, New York, for his comments on Chief Fernandez.  He had this to say:
“Ambassador Dehinde Fernandez is a big brother.  He has done a lot for the African group here.  I remember when I organized ECOWAS Group of Ambassadors and there was a problem of funding our monthly lunches.  Chief came in a big way, financed it and organized it and so on”.
Fernandez with Mobutu & others on his yatch
“Secondly, when we had a lot of problems with hosting Kofi Annan, Chief arranged one of the most spectacular banquets at the Warldorf Astoria”.
“Ambassador Fernandez is one of the most active participants in matters relating to Africa.  He is a true pan-Africanist who believes that charity must begin at home.  He’s always been in contact with us.  After Mr. Kofi Annan was elected, the first person he met was Chief Fernandez in his house and I gave Mr. Annan a paper about what and what I think he should do.
Chief Fernandez is a great brother, a very devoted compatriot and a great son of Africa.  We are very fortunate to have a man like him in Africa”.
“My hope is that he will set up a solid Foundation for sustaining future leaders of the continent in economy and public administration, the press and others, in order to help all those institutions that help sustain democracy”

Story by; Chief (Dr.) Dele Momodu, Publisher, OVATION International Magazine
Photo Credit: OVATION International Magazine

The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with his good friend ex-US President George Bush Senior

The Ambassador Plenipotentiary with ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Anan with the former Prime Minister of Mozambique

Fernandez's House on New York Island

Fernandez's Hallway to his Living Room

Fernandez's Avenue; An Insignia

Fernandez; Trespassable Parts of his Peninsular

Fernandez; The Man's Wardrobe
Fernandez; A white man ferries visitors from the helipad to house

Fernandez; A beautiful side of his Diplomatic Living Room

Fernandez with Mobutu

Fernandez on traditional attire with Mandela & Others
Deinde Fernandez; The Security Gate to his Island
Deinde Fernandez with British Diplomat Bob Angel
Deinde Fernandez as Permanent Representative of the United Nations in his Life Time
Fernandez; More Aerial View of his New York Island Peninsular

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3 comments:

  1. Vanity upon vanity all is vanity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't you worry... The other side of vanity also ends in vanity

      Delete
  2. Truth me told... He lived it up... This is a Life worth living

    ReplyDelete