A Look at the Gaddafi Clan's Dictator Aesthetic, From a Golden Mermaid Chair to Condolezza Rice Stalker Art

A Look at the Gaddafi Clan's Dictator Aesthetic, From a Golden Mermaid Chair to Condolezza Rice Stalker Art
A set of lavish chairs being looted from Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound
(Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images)
That the mostly-deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had a rather strange sense of aesthetics was clear to anyone who saw his wardrobe, a bizarre mix of traditional costume, blinged-out precious metal highlights, and big sunglasses. But with the rebels' mounting takeover of Triopoli, and the occupation of Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound, have come new details of the Gaddafi family's taste in art, interior decorating, and, strangely enough, women.

Photos of rebels occupying Gaddafi's daughter Aisha's home reveal luxurious interiors outfitted with curving stairwells, tiled marble floors, and closets full of hanging clothes. The centerpiece of the home, though, is a golden chaise in the shape of a mermaid, her flowing hair forming the piece's back. The mermaid, as it turns out, has Aisha's face. Rebels sprawl out on the couch with guns in hand.

The whole family seems to have had a taste for gold gilding. Among the artifacts found in Muammar Gaddafi's place were a gold-plated tea trolley and a James Bond-style golden rifle. The living room of Gaddafi son Saadi is decked out with gold-trimmed wooden paneling and coffered ceilings. Gaddafi's personal headquarters held golf carts, gym equipment, and a jet ski. (The Guardian has a surreal photo slideshow.)

What might be the strangest find of the raids on Gaddafi properties was a look-book photo album of former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Gaddafi apparently very much admired Rice, calling her his "darling black African woman." The creepy photo album only further proves this schoolboy crush.

The Gaddafis are not only consumers of the world's decorative possibilities, but creators as well. Gaddafi's son Saif has showed his personal paintings at London's Kensington Gardens in 2002 in an exhibition called "The Desert is Not Silent." Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones remembers the show as "confirming all the old stereotypes about dictators, or dictators' sons," noting that Saif's art as well as the objects found in the family's residencies reaffirm "the association of tyranny and kitsch art."

While the Gaddafi family has reportedly escaped from Libya into Algeria, their taste in art remains to be dissected.