The bank which was selling his villas is majority owned by his aunt… former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta!
By Shifa Mwihaki
Things are getting financially twisted when scions of old money starts staring at the auctioneer’s hammer in the face. Jeff Koinange, popular television anchor, was losing his two villas in upmarket Kitisuru estate, Nairobi, over defaulting on a Sh130 million loan he took on them.
Blame it on financial recklessness in the middle of harsh economic times and the vagaries of a salary hair cut at Citizen Television. Or what transpired for Jeff to suffer loan default leading to a near embarrassing auction?
Maybe, we should blame Jeff’s cousin, President Uhuru Kenyatta. He only worked as an intern-teller at KCB Kipande House branch when he returned from Amherst College in 1985, meaning Uhuru’s ignorance on how to run a country, let alone an economy, can fill a library.
Isn’t it curious also that it’s the Kenyatta family owned bank auctioning a relative?
NCBA bank, which was auctioning his two villas but has since given him some gel to clean his financial head, is majority owned by Uhuru, his brother Muhoho, and their mother, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta, who is Jeff Koinange’s aunt. Or blood is no longer thicker than water in business matters?
Well, Jeff Koinange, born with a silver spoon as last of four children, is also to blame for coming to financial grief.
An art connoisseur, the Jeff Koinange art collection is worth millions
See, he lives like a Pasha and those in the know intimated to Undercover that his expensive lifestyle could have taken the loan to the sands.
Jeff’s sources of income include an insane salary, endorsements, side hustles as MC and getting 10 percent as art brokerage fees. These are not enough when you blow over Sh7 million on cigars annually!
Never mind just last December Jeff bid Sh600, 000 for one painting during the art auction at Shala Heart, the arty home of Luisella Luce Torreforte in Malindi. But politician Peter Kenneth, his pal, outbid him at Sh800, 000 for the painting by Peter Elungat.
An art connoisseur, Jeff used one of his villas in Kitisuru for curating his collection. Kenyans could not wrap their heads around why a four bedroom villa in a prime location was storage for paintings. But the Jeff Koinange art collection is worth millions.
Like acquiring land, the cultured rich collect art as an investment, as it too appreciates in value over time
It includes, Dream, a semi-abstract oil on canvas by Uganda’s Jak Katarikawe for which he coughed Sh1 million in 2014. The cheapest Katarikawe cost Sh500, 000 and Jeff has been collecting Katarikawes for years.
Beyond these shores he bought the works of Nigerian Edosa Ogiugo, Augusta Kassis and Bimbo Adenugba arguing “these African paintings are my escape, I see them and I see Africa and hope.” But one Edosa painting can set you back Sh9 million or Sh2 million on the cheap side.
Like acquiring land, the cultured rich collect art as an investment, as it too appreciates in value over time. Like land, art is finite. Like prime parcels, good art costs pretty penny.
If the artist dies then the style, technique, die as well, and the rare works become expensive. Jak Katarikawe died in 2018 meaning, Dream, the painting is worth more than the Sh1 million Jeff forked for it six years ago.
Jeff could hardly offload his Katarikawes, paintings of Ankole cows, to cover shortfalls in loan repayments
Besides resale, the rich collect art to save on taxes: the millions paid are not taxed and when sold, most deals are private, far from the Almighty Caesar at Kenya Revenue Authority.
Art sold for millions is not the commercial kind hand held by roadside hawkers along Mombasa Road and the various ‘Maasai markets.’ Or the generic ones in furniture shops, but art from a reputable gallery or an artiste’s studio: art with certificate of authenticity.
But alas! during economic meltdowns people dispense with luxury items of which art collection is an expensively acquired taste.
Jeff could hardly offload his Katarikawes, paintings of Ankole cows, to cover shortfalls in loan repayments.
Matters can be made trickier when paying a hefty loan on the back of an expensive lifestyle
But he had rented out one of the four-bedroom villas by the time Garam Auctioneers were receiving potential bidders for the houses valued at Sh200 million.
A highly paid anchor being auctioned comes on the back of a poorly performing economy and the vagaries of a pandemic which has melted revenues with media houses as some of the worst hit. Royal Media Services where Jeff works for the television and radio station slashed salaries. Jeff was not spared and had to take the 20-30 percent salary reduction which impacted on loan repayments.
Matters can be made trickier when paying a hefty loan on the back of an expensive lifestyle.
Jeff is a sucker for Cuban cigars; the Partagas Series D, No.4, the most sought after in the world. The higher the number, the thinner the cigar for which he puffs two in a day, inhaling the spice, wood, cocoa, and cedar flavours morning and evening “when I am chilling and in deep thought.”
A pack of 25 sets you back Sh250, 000, meaning Jeff billows away Sh20, 000 daily on two cigars or Sh600, 000 a month. That comes to Sh7.2 million a year for the aficionado of hand-rolled Cuban gems.
The loan was earmarked for undisclosed business ventures, but spending the dough like a bank on fire burnt him, instead
Let us skip the choice whiskies and Jeff’s expensive wardrobe. But let’s mention briefly that he changes into different, laundered and well-pressed identical suits, shirts and ties while viewers are treated to commercial breaks during his Jeff Koinange Live show!
Let us also spare his Range Rover and Sh10 million Mercedes G-Wagon and attendant maintenance costs that might read like kidney transplant fees. Let us also dispense with the baggage of stardom as there are places Jeff can hardly haunt in peace. “I can’t go anywhere anymore… I’d like to go to Njuguna’s in Westlands for nyama choma but when I get there, there will be some chaps who will invite themselves to my table.” This means going to exclusive places and that comes with eye watering bills.
The loan was earmarked for undisclosed business ventures, but spending the dough like a bank on fire burnt him, instead. Yet, the company he keeps is instructive on why one should be liquid.
Jeff is part of a wealthy Boy’s Club formed by the late Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore.
The wealthy don’t look kindly upon their own who fall on hard times
It comprised politician Peter Kenneth who has interests in Mayfair bank which recently offloaded a 51 percent stake to Egypt’s largest private lender for Sh3.5 billion.
There is also Joshua Oigara, CEO of KCB, and whose annual salary is in the neighbourhood of Sh270 million or quarter a billion. Billionaire Bharat Thakrar is also part of the Boy’s Club as is stock market trader Aly-Khan Satchu and Patrick Quarcoo of Radio Africa Group. Why did they not help their boy out?
Jeff once said he is worth Sh50 million which is pocket change to some in the Boy’s Club and the wealthy don’t look kindly upon their own who fall on hard times.
Fame is fleeting…one day you can be on top of the world and the next at the bottom of the sea
And it doesn’t help matters that Jeff is famous and of it he said “fame is fleeting…one day you can be on top of the world and the next at the bottom of the sea. But fame is a full-time job…”
NCBA bank finally stopped the auction even after some investors had approached Garam Auctioneers with bids. It could have been embarrassing being auctioned by your relatives.
See, Jeff’s Old Guy, Frederick Mbiyu Koinange was one among 34 children from the six wives of Senior Chief Koinange wa Mbiyu-whose daughter, Grace Wanjiku, became Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s third wife. Wanjiku died giving birth to Jeni Wambui Kenyatta, Uhuru’s half-sister.
Jeni married Udi Gecaga and were blessed with three children among them Jomo Gecaga, President Uhuru’s Personal Assistant.
Other famous Kenyans battling auctioneers include Cabinet Secretary without portfolio, Raphael Tuju
Frederick Mbiyu Koinange, a business partner of latter day billionaire Njenga Karume, was quite loaded in his time having been the first homespun Kenyan to open a car dealership in 1948, and our first local petrol station – the Koinange Petrol Station – in Kariokor in 1966. That also the year Jeff was born at the Aga Khan Hospital, Nairobi. In his 2014 memoirs, Through My African Eyes, Jeff notes that his daddy rushed from the pub to maternity while cut like a diamond and held him while sobbing uncontrollably.
When Jeff was two months old, his father collapsed and died at his petrol station. Massive stroke, the doctor said. The burial of Jeff Koinange’s father was fast-forwarded to accommodate State House diary for President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to attend. So, the Kenyattas almost auctioned their cousin, but a deal was arrived at staggering out repayment.
Other famous Kenyans battling auctioneers include Cabinet Secretary without portfolio, Raphael Tuju who has a Sh2 billion loan hanging over his head.