The First Unicorn
Philippine Tatler|August 2018

There is, to date, only one Philippine startup that has reached unicorn status, or one with a valuation of at least US$1 billion—Revolution Precrafted of Robbie Antonio, who reveals to Chit Lijauco a bit about how his mind works and allows just a peek into his famed art collection

Chit Lijauco
Privacy, to Robbie Antonio, is as sacred as the artworks of masters that he possesses. Recognised as one of the most important collectors of modern art (he is part of the World’s Top 100 Art Collectors for 2016, as reported by Artnet), invited to major art fora all over the world, Antonio created quite a stir in 2013 when Vanity Fair discussed his home in Manila, designed by no less than Pritzker Prize-winning Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas himself. The buzz that Antonio created was both a PR agent’s dream and a challenge. But it cannot be denied that at the end of the day, and in the years that followed, people continued to talk about him.

He has only ever given a peek of his home to the media (like a photo of his stairs appearing in Surface magazine). But now, for Philippine Tatler, Antonio opens up more of his home, though still not in its entirety—then again, more than he has ever allowed for any other medium. The graciousness, however, comes with a plethora of do’s and don’ts, to include the number of people allowed inside his much talked about and speculated on home: One.

While magazine cover shoots usually command a cast of art directors, stylists, assistants, make-up artists, set designers, light men, and the photographer, Antonio would not have any of this. From the get-go he laid down his non-negotiable requirement: only the photographer will be allowed in.

So, what you see in these pages is just what Antonio is willing to show—but it’s already quite an eyeful. The dramatic and dazzling works positioned on his lawn and in his basement overwhelm an artistic appetite. Add the names of the artists behind them and the headiness turns into a yearning to see more.

At the negotiating table, however, Antonio (who is the founder and president of Antonio Development in New York and founder and CEO of Revolution Precrafted) morphs into an entirely different creature.

ONE DAY BEFORE a European roadshow that will take Antonio and his team to 54 meetings in six cities in 10 days, the office of Revolution Precrafted is a beehive, not quite the milieu of a private person. Clearly, Antonio has transformed into his other personas: the master negotiator, the visionary with a lot to say, the game changer. The alpha male talks to everyone on his staff or shoots orders from his room. He has everyone on their toes, some on tenterhooks, depending on how prepared they are to answer the boss’s questions or follow his orders.

At a distance, the three-dimensional logo of Antonio’s vision—a letter “R” formed like a stack of six cards—owns the space. It stands for the word “revolution,” but the association to the name “Robbie” is quite evident as well.

“The company is me. It is a combination of me and the business. Robbie in a business is Revolution,” he declares, admitting that he wanted a company name that started with his initial. “I literally went to the computer and asked myself, ‘I want something starting with R, that stands for game-changing. It came up with ‘revolt’ but I found that too strong, too confrontational. ‘Revolution’ sounded better—but incomplete.

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