Claim: A Facebook user, Gbola Fash and an online platform PEGASUS Reporters claim that Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke’s, bra is the world’s most expensive bra at $12.5 million (£8.5m).
Verdict: This claim is false! There was nowhere the EFCC or the Office of the Attorney General indicated that the former minister had the world’s most expensive bra among her forfeited items.
On 27th October 2021, social media went agog with online reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was valuing some forfeited items of Nigeria’s embattled ex-petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. What caused online frenzy were reports that among items valued were personal effects, including trainers and bras, which some tagged as the world’s most expensive. Since then, many Nigerians have taken to social media to either mock or disparage the former minister.
Gbola Fash wrote: “Former Petroleum Minister Diezani Madueke’s bra 4 sale at 2m per one. The most expensive bra in the world. Ole Oloriburuku”
Umar Rigasa Media, another Facebook user said: “FG puts Diezani’s 30 bras, others for sale. They are the world’s most expensive bra @the $12.5 million (E8.5-million) Heavenly star bra, by sapphires and as its centrepiece a 90-carat emerald cut diamond that was worth $10.6m (E7.28m) alone at the time.”
Still on the bra, Muhammad Kabir Salim Babajo wrote: “She was wearing the whole Nigeria’s yearly budget on her chest. Oh God Save Nigeria.”
Who is Diezani Alison-Madueke?
The name Diezani Alison-Madueke rings a bell as one of Nigeria’s most powerful politicians whose exit from political office in 2015 was marred by allegations of corruption. Alison-Madueke, who will be 61 years old in December presently resides in the United Kingdom, where she is under investigation for money laundering after she left Nigeria in a hurry at the twilight of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2015.
Diezani Alison-Madueke is the daughter of chief Frederick and Beatrice Abiye Agama and was married to a former Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Alison Madueke (rtd). She held three ministerial portfolios in Nigeria between 2007 and 2015. She was first appointed as Minister of Transportation by then President Umaru Musa Yar’adua and served between July 2007 and December 2008. Due to a cabinet reshuffle, she was in 2008 moved to the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development where she served as Minister until March 2010. In April 2010, then President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Alison-Madueke as Minister of Petroleum Resources, the first female to hold such a position in Nigeria. She held the position between 2010 and 2015 until President Muhammadu Buhari came into office. During her tenure as Petroleum Minister, then President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Nigerian Content Act which allowed more percentages of contracts in the petroleum industry to be awarded to indigenous Nigerian companies and businesses.
The many troubles of Diezani Alison-Madueke
Since she stepped down as minister and fled to the UK where she holds a British citizenship, Mrs. Alison-Madueke has been accused of stealing government funds to the tune of $2.5bn, an allegation she denies. While in the UK, she was arrested in October 2015 on allegations of money laundering by British agents of the National Crime Agency. After she was arraigned in court, she was later released on bail while investigations are ongoing.
Shortly after, Dele Momodu, publisher of the popular Ovation magazine and newspaper columnist, released photos of a cancer-stricken Mrs. Alison-Madueke in the debut issue of his new tabloid called Boss magazines where the former minister denied stealing money. The photos elicited several debates on social media with some Nigerians accusing her of lying to garner sympathy.
But in a 2019 published book titled: ‘Riding the Storms with God on my Side,’ her husband, Rear Admiral Alison Madueke (rtd.), revealed that the former minister had in 2015 lost her ability to speak and subsequently went into a coma due to complications of cancer.
Though the retired naval officer says his wife is now fully recovered, Diezani continues to face more troubles as a 2019 report released by Transparency International revealed that she purchased three London properties using suspected bribes from oil deals. An Al Jazeera investigation; ‘Diplomats for Sale’ in 2019 revealed that Mrs. Alison Madueke had purchased a Dominican passport shortly before she fled to London. The Nigerian media space dug into the report and in 2020, reports indicated that the diplomatic passport was aimed at providing the ex-oil boss immunity from criminal prosecution.
By May 2021, the EFCC said it recovered $156m and 80 properties worth $80m from the ex-oil minister. This is even as a Nigerian court has denied an application of the EFCC seeking an order for the issuance of a warrant for her arrest. Most recently, as part of the lists of assets said to have been forfeited by Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the Nigerian Government listed properties located at Ikoyi, Banana Island Foreshore estate in Lagos including 18 flats and six penthouses. The government also listed items such as 125 wedding gowns, 13 small gowns, 11 suits, 41 waist trainers, 11 invisible bras, 30 brasiers as well as magic skirts and others.
The many firsts of Mrs. Alison-Madueke
Diezani Alison-Madueke is a well-educated woman who has occupied high positions and excelled in Nigeria’s male dominated oil and gas sector as well as political landscape.
Despite controversies surrounding her exit as Minister of Petroleum Resources and the various corruption charges against her, it is pertinent to note that Alison-Madueke either by fate or sheer competence has held many firsts as a woman.
Before her stint in politics, she became the first woman to be appointed as the Executive Director of Shell Petroleum Development Corporation in Nigeria in 2006. In 2007, she became the first woman to hold the position of Minister of Transportation in Nigeria and also the first woman to hold the position of Minister of Petroleum Resources in 2010.
Alison-Madueke was also the first woman to head a country delegation at the semi-annual Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) conference and became the first female OPEC President in 2014.
History of the World’s Most Expensive Bra
Every year, in the last 25 years, one Victoria’s Secret model is selected to wear what has come to be known as the Fantasy Bra. The Fantasy bra is a special garment worth millions of dollars worn on a runway show which began in 1996 when supermodel Claudia Schiffer stunned the world in a diamond-encrusted bra called the “Million Dollar Miracle Bra” with a price tag of $1 million.
Since then, the annual runway show, with beautiful models wearing lingerie, has garnered more fans with the most anticipated section of the annual event, the announcement and unveiling of the year’s Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra.
One supermodel called an ‘Angel’ is selected to wear the designated Fantasy Bra to walk the runway with fashion experts describing it as one of the highest honours in fashion.
Based on Victoria’s Secret collection, the most expensive bra is the diamond and Thai ruby-encrusted lingerie won in 2000 by Gisele Bundchen which comes with a $15m price tag. However, the Guinness World Record places the $12.5-million (£8.5-million) Heavenly Star Bra, by Victoria’s Secret, created in 2001 and won on the catwalk by supermodel Heidi Klum as the world’s most expensive bra. The bra features 1,200 Sri Lankan pink sapphires and as its centrepiece, a 90-carat emerald cut diamond that was worth $10.6m (£7.28m) at the time. Even though the 2005 Sexy Splendor Fantasy Bra also had a $12.5m selling price, in comparative terms, its value is less than the Fantasy bra of 2001.
What happens to the Fantasy bra after the show?
What makes the fantasy bra expensive is that each of the bras advertised in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue or worn on the catwalk during the fashion show has a jewel-encrusted centrepiece. Prior to each fashion show, Victoria’s Secret is said to contract a renowned jewellery designer to craft the bra to be used as a focal point for promoting the fashion show and as a centrepiece within it. However, only the centrepiece from the 2004 Heavenly “70” Fantasy Bra and the 2012 Floral Fantasy Bra and Gift Set have found a buyer. If not bought, the bras are usually dismantled after a year.
Having gone through all the various published reports on the forfeiture of Diezani Alison-Madueke’s properties and personal effects, this reporter found that the source of the report was the Punch Newspaper.
However, the report was also published and circulated by The Cable and Sahara Reporters. All reports were published on October 27th 2021 and made reference to lists of assets said to have been forfeited by Mrs Alison-Madueke.
The items were listed as: Properties located at Ikoyi, Banana Island Foreshore estate in Lagos including 18 flats and six penthouses. Other items include 125 wedding gowns, 13 small gowns, 11 suits, 41 waist trainers, 11 invisible bras, 30 brasiers as well as magic skirts and others.
Though 11 invisible bras and 30 brasiers were listed among the forfeited items, none of the reports valued the bras or stated if any of the bras had been valued as the most expensive in the world.
This reporter also found that the specific photo of the bra used to accompany the claims above that Diezani’s bras are the most expensive are actually photos from the “Fantasy bra” collections of Victoria’s Secrets designed in 2002 and worn by Karolina Kurkova which is valued at $10m. It is, therefore, not the most expensive bra in the world. The award for the most expensive bra, according to Guinness World Records, had gone to the 2001 fantasy bra won on the catwalk by Heidi Klum. It is valued as the world’s most expensive bra and valued at $12.5m (£8.5m) created by Victoria’s Secret in 2001.
Records have it that only the 2004 Heavenly “70” Fantasy Bra and the 2012 Floral Fantasy Bra and Gift Set from the Victoria’s Secret collections of fantasy bras have found buyers. The two are not the most expensive bras and therefore couldn’t have been among Diezani’s collection. Other fantasy bras including the 2021 bra, valued at $12.5m have all been dismantled.
This reporter also contacted the EFCC to verify if any of the forfeited bras had been valued as the world’s most expensive, but the spokesperson of the anticorruption commission in Nigeria, Wilson Uwujaren, referred her to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation which he said was in charge of the forfeited items. On reaching out to the office of the Attorney General, the media aide to the Attorney General of the Federation, Malam Umar Gwandu, said he was not aware of “any most expensive bra from Diezani’s forfeited items.”
The claim that among items forfeited by Nigeria’s former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is the world’s most expensive bra, valued at $12.5m (E8.5m) is false. Findings show that pictures circulated as Diezani’s bra are from the Victoria’s Secret collection of Fantasy bra which is a special garment worth millions of dollars worn on runways since 1996.
The researcher produced this fact check article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Daily Trust to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.