Born in Bucharest, Prince Monyo Mihailescu-Nasturel lived the good life. He is the last in the line of descendants of Romanian Voevods (Kings) Matei Basarab, Mihail Viteazul, and Ban Udriste Nasturel Herescu and his father was a wealthy landowner. He grew up in the ancestral home, a castle on the outskirts of Bucharest, where the sophisticated would gather and discuss politics over fine wines. The young Prince studied mechanical engineering at Bucharest University and then earned a Ph.D. in ancient history and religion from the University of Sorbonne, Paris.
When the Communists came, his family managed to escape to the United States while Prince Monyo stayed behind. He owned a factory that produced nails and wire, which the Communists quickly seized. They then nationalized his family fortune. He escaped with some friends into the mountains where they became political revolutionaries. Sadly, his friends were shot and killed, but Prince Monyo escaped with two bullet wounds only to end up captured and held as a political prisoner.
Prince Monyo was imprisoned for several years without a trial. He was kept in solitary confinement. Of his bleak and solitary prison years, Prince Monyo says "I fantasized about things. I could see shapes and I could change them. I realized that I had this power of interpretation that I could change at will. This is what kept my faith in human nature and preserved my sanity. " It is said that the soul of an artist only matures when he becomes aware of the temporal quality of life. Prince Monyo gained such awareness, both spiritually and intellectually during this period of his life.
During his imprisonment, his family worked feverishly to have him freed. Finally, through the intervention of the United Nations and Henry Cabot Lodge, in 1960 Prince Monyo was freed. He came to the United States as a political refugee and joined his family in Florida. He was emaciated and in ill health from his ordeal. He recovered slowly, and had stints as a wrestler, race car driver and a "beach boy". But he continued to have reoccurring turbulent memories from his days in prison, and says that to find relief, he started to make clay sculptures which reflected his thoughts. Completely self-taught, this was the beginning of a great artist.
The year 1961 was important for Prince Monyo. While on a trip to Mexico City, he wandered into the artists' quarters where he met the revered Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo and one of his students, the now famous Alex Duval. Prince Monyo started modeling a lump of clay in the studio. Tamayo watched closely, then exclaimed that he was in the presence of a "great prodigy". Tamayo invited Prince Monyo to add his work to Tamayo's exhibition at the Museum Mizdrachi. It was not long before Prince Monyo was winning prizes, including the coveted Ist Prize at the Jardines del Artes in Mexico City. Collectors suddenly appeared from near and far to buy the Prince's works. Prince Monyo's friendship with Tamayo lasted until the great artist's death. The Prince still uses his original sculpting table from his days with Tamayo to create his works which are then cast in bronze using the centuries old technique known as the "lost wax process". This sculpting table remains one of his most treasured possession.
Prince Monyo's first major collector was Samuel Roy who invited him to have a show in Toronto Canada. At that time Prince Monyo did not have much money, ($3.75 to be exact!), but he managed to arrive in Toronto with a few sculptures and paintings. This show was so successful that he decided to stay on. Eventually, he opened his own gallery and foundry, and purchased a plush apartment in Toronto's fashionable Yorkville area. He filled his apartment with his own erotic art. This apartment was featured in both Playboy and the movie "Business Is My Pleasure" with Xaviera Hollander.
Invitations for the Prince to show his work abounded. One such invitation came from Edward Ludwig, who was opening the Acapulco Princess Hotel. Prince Monyo's work was featured exclusively there. Prince Monyo then received a commission from one of the leading landowners in the Bahamas to create a 12 foot "Jesus Christ for the Santa Virgina Maria Church in Freeport, Bahamas.
During his time in Toronto, by accident, Prince Monyo discovered a new technique for three dimensional painting, a technique which he calls Monyo Sculptured Painting. An article in "Critique European" commented that this was the most emotional and vivid technique ever created in three dimensional art.
As Prince Monyo's notoriety increased, he made a move that shocked Canada. He made the first ever show of erotic sculpture and was promptly arrested! Legal negotiations resulted in Canada changing the law so as to allow freedom of artistic expression to all of its artists. Prince Monyo and his work forever changed the artist's rights of interpretation in Canada. As a result of the publicity from these event, Irving Zucker, a well known Canadian art collector, acquired all of the pieces in the erotic collection.
In the late 1970's, after leaving his mark on Canada, Prince Monyo returned to the United States to live. He did one man shows and exhibitions in many metropolitan cities. During that period, Prince Monyo went to Italy and opened a studio in Piatra Santa which was dedicated to carving onyx. Then he undertook the task of presenting exhibitions and shows throughout Europe. This resulted in his works being included in collections in Spain, Italy and France, thus broadening his collectors beyond the United States, Mexico and Canada. His works are on display in many museum around the world and included in some of the largest private collections. In 1980, he moved permanently to Palm Beach, Florida.
Prince Monyo continues to startle the art world with such mammoth accomplishments as his 65 foot "Flames of Life" which stands in front of the Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas, his rotating 48 foot "Eternal Flame" and "Flames of Life" and "Reflections of a City" which is a 16 foot diameter circle which rotates twice a minute on its own axis. In addition, he blends his mechanical engineering skills into many of his works including his artistic creation of life‑size children who appear suspended in motion in a moment of time at play in his highly acclaimed series entitled "Children at Play". The "Eternal Flame" was purchased by Mr. Daniel Tabas of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and donated to the "Valley Forge National Park" where it remains on permanent display today. Prince Monyo is the only living artist so honored. The 48 foot " Flames of Life" and "Reflections Of A City" were purchased by Mr. Jack Beltz, of Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Tabas and Mr. Belz each own over 100 pieces of Prince Monyo's works.
Prince Monyo's bronzes are displayed at numerous public facilities and buildings and have been featured in several articles and magazines including "International Art Guild", "Architectural Digest" and many other publications. He has appeared in several movies and many television shows.
Today, Prince Monyo has one of the largest foundries in Florida, and a gallery on prestigious Worth Avenue in Pahn Beach. Most visitors to Palm Beach have seen the display of several of his sculpture in the exterior courtyard of his gallery. This display includes the tranquil "Lady in the Park", majestic "Towards Freedom" ' whimsical "Romance in the Rain" fountain and precocious "Nature's Prize". He has over 245 different bronze works offered as limited editions, in addition to original sculptured paintings and carved onyx creations. Many of his works are produced in both life size and miniature format His collection is so diverse that someone entering his gallery for the first time may think that they are viewing the works of several artists rather than just one. A prolific artist, it is not unusual for him to begin sculpting on his travels since he carries his "tools of the trade" in the trunk of his Rolls Royce (he is an avid collector and owns four!). His other prize is a yellow and black BMW motorcycle about which he says, as he whizzes around the town, "I'm preparing for the speed of the 21 St century."