Meet the Kleptobrats, the World’s Worst Nepo Babies

The insufferable kids of dictators and oligarchs are living it up with stolen fortunes.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang Equatorial Guinea’s playboy prince cutting

You’ve heard of nepo babies, those fortunate sons and daughters of Hollywood’s elite (and Britains, too). They’ve got nothing on kleptobrats. 

Kleptocracy is a sort of catchall term for governments where leaders prioritize their own prestige and personal enrichment over the welfare of the population. Dictators and oligarchs rule through violence, strip the local resources, and pocket the money that could’ve gone to the development of their country. Often, they spend that money on their kids: the kleptobrats.


Inevitably, the kleptocrat will look around at the country they’ve plundered and decide it’s no place for their children to grow up. While their citizens live in abject poverty, they treat their kleptobrats to luxurious lifestyles in the West with the best schools, mansions, cars, and parties money can buy.

Take, for instance, Equatorial Guinea’s playboy prince Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who used Patriot Act loopholes and looted money to go to school in the US, buy a Malibu mansion, private jet, speed boat, a fleet of cars, party with America’s biggest musicians, and become the world's biggest Michael Jackson memorabilia collector—including the white crystal glove. I followed that story in the latest episode of Offshore, the show where we break down how the rich live above the law, set up systems to do it, and fuck over the rest of us. Take a look:

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Fancy schooling, of course, is a key privilege of the kleptobrat—partly because, unlike banks and many financial institutions, universities have no obligations under US law to look into the source of money they’re paid, no matter how much. (The same is true for real estate escrow accounts.)

So when it was time for North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Il’s son to go to school, he sent Kim Jong Un to Switzerland, where he reportedly earned the nickname Dim Jong Un. Bo Xilai, the notoriously corrupt and powerful Chinese politician, sent his son to Harvard with a Porsche, then to Oxford where he partied on stage with Jackie Chan. Xi Jingping sends his daughter Xi Mingze to Harvard


In Russia, it got so bad that in 2016, a bill was introduced to ban Russian officials from offshoring their children's education. It failed. Instead, Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, sent his daughter to school in Paris, where she and her mother have a $2 million apartment, according to CNN. She’s quoted as saying the Russian education system is a “true hell.” I wonder who could fix that? The daughter of Sergei Lavrov, Putin's foreign affairs minister, goes to school in London with a $5.8 million apartment. The big man himself, Vladimir Putin, is very secretive about his family, but there are reports that his children with former Olympic gold medal gymnast Alina Kavaeva are hidden away in Switzerland

Saif Al-Islam, son of infamous Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi went to college in London. Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, crown prince of Bahrain, went to college in the US and UK. Bashar Al-Assad, the nepo baby dictator of Syria, spent time training as an eye doctor in London. All three of them went on to be a part of governments that brutalize their citizens. 


And then there are the parties. 

Mutassim Gaddafi, the late son of Muammar Gaddafi, paid Beyonce $1 million to perform at his New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts that also had Usher, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, and Jon Bon Jovi in attendance. In Kazakhstan, Kanye West performed at the wedding of the dictator’s grandson for $3 million, Elton John for the dictator's son-in-law’s birthday for $1.5 million, and Nelly Furtado for the dictator's daughter. 

Isabel Dos Santos, the Interpol-wanted daughter of Angolan dictator José Eduardo Dos Santos, has hosted concerts by Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Nothing says “GIRL POWER!!!!!”—as Nicki wrote in an Instagram post—quite like looting your country’s oil industry to the tune of $3.5 billion while half your country lives on less than $2 a day with the 16th worst life expectancy in the world. Sure, everyone wants to give their kids the best lives possible. Most of us just don’t impoverish and brutalize an entire population to do it.