So sayeth the Telegraph, quoting a defector.
A catalogue of the private opulence and eccentric tastes of 70-year-old Ayatollah Khamenei and his family has been compiled by Iran’s opposition Green Movement from the accounts of the defector, who is said to be in hiding in France.
Among his claims are that Ayatollah Khamenei has a voracious appetite for trout and caviar; is an avid hoarder of collectables from bejewelled pipes to fine horses; and that he suffers regular bouts of depression which are treated in part by audiences with a mid-ranking mullah who tells vulgar jokes.
Claims from three intelligence officials, who have also fled Iran, have additionally documented the Khamenei family’s wide-reaching business connections, including interests in European manufacturers, African mobile phone companies and international commodities markets.
But the glimpse at the imperial lifestyle of an otherwise austere theologan is groundbreaking. Ayatollah Khamenei is said to be a keen collector with a prized assembly of antique walking sticks said to number 170. The Supreme Leader was once a fanatical equestrian enthusiast and his extensive stables reportedly include more than 100 of the country’s leading horses. His cloaks are said to be woven from hair of specially bred camels.
Ayatollah Khamenei is claimed to have accumulated a sprawling private court that stretches across six palaces, including Naviran, the former resident of the Shah in Tehran. Two of the palaces – Naviran and Valikabad – are equipped with deep, reinforced concrete nuclear bunkers said to be capable of withstanding nuclear attack. A fully functioning hospital is overseen by a former health minister.