David Bowie, pop-rock’s quintessentially eccentric English gentleman, passed away almost a year ago. He left behind a musical legacy that can arguably only be matched by that of The Beatles in terms of breaking new ground, setting trends and defining eras. What is less well known about this flamboyant, but most reclusive of rock stars, who lived out his last years peacefully and anonymously in New York City, was his love of all things Indonesian.
This love affair culminated in the self-styled Thin White Duke’s recreation of a Balinese-style villa on the Caribbean island of Mustique. The seven-bedroom property recently sold for some US$20 million and can currently be rented for US$60,000 per week for up to 14 guests. It is perfect Bowie: a spatial oddity that stands out among the other run-of-themill villa properties on the island.
Bowie’s first encounter with the beauty and culture of the Indonesian archipelago was in the 1980s, the decade that saw rock stars start to seek out distant and exotic island paradises on which they could escape the trappings of fame. This wanderlust eventually brought Bowie to Bali and he was instantly captivated. His curiosity piqued, the one-time Ziggy Stardust was invited by Setiawan Djody,
His curiosity piqued, the one-time Ziggy Stardust was invited by Setiawan Djody, Indonesian businessman and, according to Rolling Stone magazine, one of Asia’s top guitarists, to attend a traditional Javanese Suronan ceremony at the Court of Mangkunegaran in Solo. Bowie went along with his then-girlfriend—and later wife—the supermodel Iman.
Djody and Bowie became firm friends and Bowie’s love of Indonesia blossomed. For those not familiar with the Bowie canon, songs like “Amlapura” from the album Tin Machine II (1991) and the Indonesian-language version of the song “Don't Let Me Down & Down” from the album Black Tie White Noise (1983)—rendered as “Jangan Susahkan Hatiku”—are distinct giveaways.
Bowie was an artist who was unrestricted by genres and media. As well as an accomplished painter and art collector, his passions also extended into interior design and architecture. Which brings us nicely to his Javanese paradise on the Caribbean island of Mustique, built with materials mostly shipped all the way from Java and Bali.
Read the full article in Tatler Homes December 2016 issue.
(Text by Jones and Olly G. Santosa; Photo by the Mustique Co)