Just This Once, What if Money Were No Object?
By Steph Moore
OK. How many times during our youth did our parents and teachers tell us, “It’s the thought that counts?” Or “It’s not how expensive the gift is, it’s the sentiment behind it?” And how about the one that has kept kitchens across America covered in crayon drawings and macaroni art, “Homemade gifts are the most precious ones?” Now, the prematurely jaded amongst us might have had bad thoughts from time, secretly suspecting that all these adages were an adult conspiracy to keep the cost of holiday shopping down to a bare minimum when their To Buy For list started to look more like a book and less like a mere list.
And then once we began to date, we occasionally questioned whether our crush were merely relying on this gift brainwashing to avoid having to go to a mall and shell out hard-earned babysitting or lawnmowing cash ~ or worst yet, that he or she had completely forgotten about having to buy a gift and was hoping that we’d be bowled over by the sheer creativity and romance of it all when we were presented with the somewhat deformed ashtray/pet dish/candy bowl that he or she had made in 9th grade art class.
But then we matured and realized that it really IS the thought and not the amount of money spent. Gifts from the heart, gifts that are personal and meaningful became what we hoped to get during the holidays.
Alright. So we’ve established that for the most part it’s bad to judge the quality of the gift (or the gift-giver, for that matter) by the price tag. Money isn’t what the holidays are all about ~ they’re about friends, family, special moments, cozy get-togethers, yummy smells emanating from the kitchen…and whenever possible, remembering those who are less fortunate than we are by donating to Toys for Tots, helping out at a local soup kitchen, dropping off warm clothing to a women’s shelter.
BUT HELLO, DON’T YOU JUST ONCE IN A WHILE WISH THAT YOU COULD AFFORD TO SHOW OFF AND BUY PEOPLE REALLY OBSCENELY EXPENSIVE (and unnecessary) LUXURY GIFTS OR, BETTER YET, THAT YOU COULD RECEIVE REALLY OBSCENELY EXPENSIVE LUXURY GIFTS THAT COST ABOUT AS MUCH AS (or maybe even ARE) A SMALL ISLAND???? It’s OK, you can admit it…sometimes you’d just to shout at your honey, “ENOUGH WITH THE ROMANTIC BOOKS OF POETRY AND THE IOUs FOR A DAY OF NOT HAVING TO DO THE DISHES. I WANT A DIAMOND SO FREAKIN’ HUGE THAT IT COMES WITH ITS OWN SECURITY GUARD!!! AND I WANT IT SET IN PLATINUM AND I WANT YOU TO WRAP IT IN AN ITALIAN VILLA!!!”
So what would we put on our holiday list (for giving or getting…oh, beee-have!) if we knew that money really were no object? I have a few ideas…a few deliciously indulgent, luxurious, Donald-Trump-eat-your-heart-out, bring-on-the-bling ideas.
PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS
If you’d bark like a dog for a Klondike Bar, what exactly would you do if someone took you out to dinner and suggested you try the $1000 dessert (I know what I’d do, but I’m too much of a lady to put it in print!)? New York’s famous Serendipity3 created the Golden Opulence Sundae (the World’s Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae according to the 2006 Guinness World Records) and in one fell swoop (or scoop, in this case) brought new meaning to the phrase “rich food.” Made with “…five scoops of the richest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla and covered in 23K edible gold leaf, the sundae is drizzled with the world’s most expensive chocolate, Amedei Porceleana, and covered with chunks of rare Chuao chocolate, which is from cocoa beans harvested by the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela’s coast. The masterpiece is suffused with exotic candied fruits from Paris, gold dragets, truffles and Marzipan Cherries. It is topped with a tiny glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, an exclusive dessert caviar, made of salt-free American Golden caviar, known for its sparkling golden color. It’s sweetened and infused with fresh passion fruit, orange and Armagnac. The sundae is served in a Baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet with an 18K gold spoon to partake in the indulgence served with a petite mother of pearl spoon and topped with a gilded sugar flower by Ron Ben-Israel.”
Rather enjoy your high-priced confections in the privacy of your own home? Then for a mere $2,600. you could always pick up a pound of Chocopologie by Knipschildt.
And if you’re thinking of pairing that chocolate with something equally decadent in the alcohol department, how about a romantic bottle of fine wine? A bottle of Petrus Pomerol 1998 for $1,459 or a bottle of Dom. Romane Conti 1997 for $1,540 should definitely do the trick…but those can’t even hold a candle to a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes (1787) wine ~ the most elegant $64,000 you’ll ever sip.
A nice accompaniment? Two pounds, ten ounces of White Alba truffle ~ for $112,000.
TOP (OF THE LINE) FOR YOUR BOTTOM
Jeans…they’re practically our national uniform ~ and definitely one of our national fashion obsessions. How fabulously decadent would it be to throw on a pair of Escada’s couture jeans that’s covered in Swarovski crystals and comes with a price tag of $10,000? That would make you one expensive piece of…well, you get the idea!
(And for a mere $4,495.00, the junk in your trunk can be massaged by the ultimate chair: The Ultimate Human Touch, a Massage Chair from Sharper Image will bring a smile to your…face.)
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR DRESS
Created by Scott Henshall, the famous “Spiderweb Dress” contains about 3,000 diamonds in the shape of a spider’s web: $6,256,749. And why should we ladies be the only ones dripping with decadence? For another $21 million, we can present the gentlemen in our lives with a Satya Paul tie. It’s the perfect partner to the dress, constructed of a silk with a white gold base and studded with 261 diamonds weighing in at 77 carats.
THE CLOTHES OFF YOUR BACK
Now if you’ve worn the aforementioned for an evening out, you wouldn’t want to wear anything less for the “evening in” that’s bound to follow (Oh, c’mon, like one of the best parts of wearing such expensive clothes isn’t going to be ripping them off and tossing them on the floor just because you can!) And as luck would have it, C. Gilson, a European company that hand-embellishes all its goods, sells a silk bra, panties, chemise and robe set for a penny or two (literally) under $3000.
BETWEEN THE SHEETS
And once you’ve stripped off all those heavy diamonds and they’re lying in a glittering heap on the floor, you owe it to yourself to tumble into the finest sheets in the world. A set of Léron bed linens takes a year to make in Italy ~ they’re a not-all-that-uncommon 800-thread count, but it’s the embroidery or Fuselli lace that drives the price up to $60,000.
SCENT OF A WOMAN
Dab a bit of this perfume behind your ears and instantly increase your property value. A couple of years ago, Clive Christian unveiled the world’s most expensive bottle of fragrance in the history of, well, fragrance. It contains half a liter of perfume and comes in a cut glass crystal flacon topped off with a large diamond and an 18-carat gold collar. The fragrance is sold exclusively at Harrods and costs nearly $200,000.
THE FAMILY JEWELS
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Can I get an “Amen” on that one! Neiman Marcus, bless their souls, whole-heartedly supports this time-honored and incorruptible friendship. The $128,000 Baguette Cuff features 26.23 carats of baguette diamonds accented by 9.10 carats of round-cut diamonds. The unique freeform setting of the Pavé Cluster Cuff features 14.91 carats of diamonds and will set the holiday budget back hardly at all at $48,500. Or perhaps the $68,500 Pavé Vertical Cuff, with its 28.49 carats of diamonds, would best enhance the wrist in question. For $63,000, the four overlapping twists of the Pavé Twist Cuff, showcasing 31.32 carats of diamonds, will add that understated touch of glamour to any outfit. Jeez, never mind best friend, if we could teach these baubles to take out the trash, we might just want to marry one!
WATCH THOSE HANDS, MISTER!
But guys, fear not, your wrists need not go unadorned. If you play your cards right and drop enough hints, you might wake up on Christmas morning to this little slice of Swiss heaven: World Première Watchmaking’s Grande Complication is touted as “…”one of the five most complicated wrist watches in the world.” Complicated, I can’t vouch for. Spectacularly expensive, I can The limited addition of 6 ~ three in 18K rose gold, 2 in 18K white gold, and one in platinum ~ ranges in price from $700,000 to $800,000.
And while we’re talking about giving the man in our life some cool bragging rights for the office, what about getting him the ultimate sports package? Neiman Marcus sponsors a charity auction with bids starting at $250,000 for a package of six events including the Super Bowl, the Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL All-Star games, the U.S. Open tennis women’s final, and one surprise bonus event. Travel and accommodations are included and the winning bid will also get you a meal with a sports celebrity.
PEN IS ENVY
Tell me the truth. Isn’t there just a little part of you that would LOVE to flaunt a little sunthin’ sunthin’ expensive in the face of that annoying woman in Accounting who thinks her fake Gucci bag is fooling everyone? How about nonchalantly pulling out a Caran d’Ache’s La Modernista Diamond Pen and smiling smugly because you know that it cost $265,000? This ultimate office supply was inspired by the Modernism art movement. Within its panels of rhodium coated sterling silver barrels are 5,072 Top Wesselton full cut diamonds that total 20 carats. An additional 96 rubies totaling .32 carats form the Caran d’Ache monogram on the crown of each cap. Each gem is hand set by master jeweler Robert Perron of Geneva and requires six months of work. Yeah, this beauty is in the Guiness Book of World Records, too.
As a back-up, you can always keep a Montblanc Diamond Fountain Pen in your briefcase or top drawer. The Skeleton Bohème diamond fountain cartridge pen edition is handcrafted of solid 18-karat white gold and is encrusted with 1,906 diamonds ~ but of course for $160,900, we’d expect no less. The centerpiece is a .54-carat, 43-facet diamond cut in the unique shape of the Montblanc Star signet (in fact, it’s called the Montblanc Star diamond cut). Diamonds cover the white gold outer barrel that has transparent resin windows so you (or maybe more importantly, that annoying co-worker) can see the diamond-encrusted writing mechanism inside the pen. The handcrafted 18-karat yellow gold nib is plated in platinum, the pen cap is encrusted in diamonds, and there’s a marvelous .45-carat paramount-cut rectangular stone set into the clip. With a total of 9.6 carats of diamonds, the Skeleton Bohème is limited to just three writing instruments worldwide. Three. Worldwide. So if you’re thinking of popping the pen into someone’s stocking this holiday, y’might want to get right on that.
CELL TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER
And if you’re a guy, there’s nothing wrong with flaunting that your lady loves you enough to spend $1.3 million on a neat little cell phone for you. Russian company JSC Ancort partnered with celebrity jeweler Peter Aloisson to create a very pricey version of Swiss Crypto Telecommunication Security’s Crypto Smart telephone and in so doing gave the world its most expensive mobile telephone. Designed to attract attention to the issues of mobile phone privacy, the solid platinum Brilliant Crypto Smartphone uses a symmetric 256 bit cryptographic algorithm and Windows CE operating system. In addition to the platinum body, the Ancort logo and the navigation key are made of 18 carat rose gold, as is the navigation key, which also carries 28 round cut diamonds.
Not to be sexist (since I’m both a proud card-carrying member of the girlie female population AND a complete gearhead), but while we’re on the subject of guys (one of my favorites, right after shoes and purses…but I digress…), let’s talk about wheels. You think Pimp My Ride turns out some cool stuff? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. What better way to spend some of that disposable income than on the most exotic cars in the world, I ask you (and we don’t even need to bother with those piddly machines under $500,000 – child’s play!) So check these out ~ or, as Xhibit might say, “Yo, peep this.”
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 is an all-wheel-drive, two-seat sports car with a lightweight carbon-fiber body and 16-cylinder engine capable of producing 1,001 horsepower. That’s like, a lot. For $1,192,057 it’s yours.
The Pagani Zonda Roadster F C12S 7.3, with its light and rigid body, is pushed by the mighty 7.3 Litre Mercedes-AMG V12, with a power of 650hp and a torque of 575 lb/ft. It goes from 0 – 125 mph in just 9.8 seconds and a few instants later you exceed the 186 mph mark… all topless (the car, silly!). Just $667,000, so what the heck, get two!
The SSC Ultimate Aero made its debut at the 2005 Concorso Italiano in Monterey, CA. The car was created to break the 250 mph barrier. Building on the 787 horsepower “Standard” Aero, the Ultimate features a more powerful version of the V8 engine and twin turbos. It also tops 1000 horsepower ~ and $654,500.
LeBlanc Mirabeau has a 4.7 liter Koenigsegg V8 thatpacks over 700 horsepower and easily reaches speeds of over 230mpg. For the mere pittance of $645,084, you can own all barely street-legal 1790 lbs of it.
BEEMER UP, SCOTTY!
Alright, these automotive gems are la crème de la crème when it comes to speed and cost. But let’s talk exclusivity, the hallmark of wealth and upper crust society…and thus the hallmark of the NM® Limited-Edition 2007 BMW Individual M6 Convertible. The 5.0-liter, V-10 engine delivers 500 horsepower and the on-board computer, GPS navigation, voice command systems, precision handling, M variable differential lock, special paint treatment, premium interior appointments and electronic damping control make every trip extraordinary.
A Formula 1™-inspired, V-10 engine with ten individual throttle butterflies (capable of revving up to 8,250 rpm) is paired with a seven-speed Sequential Manual Transmission with Drivelogic that can launch you from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. There’s the speed-sensitive variable-assist power steering, an independent M-suspension design, the four-wheel BMW M antilock braking system, M-radial spoke cast alloy wheels, an on-board integrated diagnostic system, and more.
But what makes this little number so exclusive? Well, only 50 of our NM® Limited-Edition 2007 BMW Individual M6 Convertibles will exist in the United States ~ and they’re far too miraculous to be simply picked up at a dealer. You’ll be introduced to the BMW of your dreams in Munich while you savor an exclusive European vacation (which includes two tickets on Lufthansa® from New York, gourmet meals, and luxurious accommodations for four nights). You’ll get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of BMW culture and get to shake hands (or full-on hug) the engineers and designers who were involved in the creation of your 2007 BMW Individual M6 Convertible. Oh, and in case you were thinking of buying a few for friends, you’re out of luck. The limit is one car per customer at $139,000.00. To place your order, head to www.neimanmarcus.com.
WORK THOSE QUADS
All set in the car department but still feeling the urge to add a new Tim-the-Tool-Time-Taylor-worthy toy to your collection? May I present the $56,465.00 GG Quad. It’s the first of its kind, a high-performance, street legal quad machine. Masterminded by Swiss automotive engineers, it offers a 1130cc twin-cylinder engine that can generate up to 95hp, cast aluminum wheels, rear-wheel drive with a differential, hydraulic struts, and a responsive six-speed transmission. The GG Quad can achieve top speeds of 115 mph. Want to add this little number to your toy chest? Give our old friends at Neiman Marcus a jingle. They’re the only ones representing (love that – a vehicle with its own agent!) and selling the QUAD.
Does the special person in your life have a special canine in his or her life? Then what better way to say that you love them both (guys, here’s a tip ~ the way to a woman’s heart (wink wink) is through her pet…so grin and bear it and present Fluffy with the retro-style $5000 Nomad ~ crafted from poplar and decorated with an interior rug and coordinating wallpaper ~ from Italian designer Marco Morosini. Is the pooch more of a trendsetter? Then the ultra-modern $7000 Good Life might be just the thing. Inside its minimalist 44”H crystal case is its very own plush Italian leather armchair. Both homes can accommodate pets up to 7lbs and are exclusive editions limited to only ten of each style, each numbered and signed by the designer.
LAND HO…HO HO!
Sometimes nothing says Happy Holidays like buying someone a private island ~ nothing fancy, just a little pied à terre for the occasional getaway. Lucky you, there’s a whole selection out there for sale ~ and regardless of which one you choose, you’re going to make the lucky real estate agent very happy.
Isla de sa Ferradura, Spain $39.7 million
Pakatoa Island, New Zealand $35 million
Cerralvo Island, Mexico $35 million
Temptation Island, Thailand $30 million
Caritas Island, Fairfield County, Connecticut (who knew!) $25 million
Allan Island (tie), Washington State – $25 million
Grand Bogue Caye, Belize $25 million
Blue Lagoon, Fiji $25 million
Thatch Cay, U.S. Virgin Islands $24 million
Isola Santo Stefano, Italy $24 million
Little Ragged Island, Bahamas $23.5 million
Leaf Cay 2, Bahamas $19 million
Coakley Cay, Bahamas $18.2 million
Magic Island, French Polynesia $18 million (a bargain!)
JOIN THE CLUB
No really. Join the club. Or should we say, “THE Club.” The Club at Castiglion Del Bosco is the pinnacle of la dolce vita. Founded in the 12th century and nestled away in the ruins of a medieval fortress, “The Castle in the Woods” is set on 4500 acres overlooking the Val D’Orcia. The village is home to a 13th century church decorated with priceless frescos. There are 21 villas sprinkled about the countryside, 150 acres of vineyards, and a famous working winery. Each 3000 – 6000 square foot villa offers a host of luxury amenities including a private heated swimming pool, a luxury vehicle for use during visits, and comprehensive daily hospitality and concierge services. The private village also offers a 14,000-square foot spa and salon, a 25-suite boutique hotel, two gourmet restaurants, a culinary academy, and status shopping. For recreation, there’s an 18-hole championship and 9-hole executive golf course, state-of-the-art fitness center, swimming pools, tennis courts, a soccer field, horseback riding, biking, and hiking through the idyllic trails. The winery provides you with exquisite wines and behind-the-scenes access. Membership affords your family a multitude of riches: virtually unrestricted yearly time in the villas, unlimited use of all other amenities year-round, a case of each year’s vintage, and a priceless legacy. There are only 120 memberships available, each priced at $3,800,000.00. Merry Christmas!
If it’s overseas luxury you’re looking for, might not be a bad idea to pop over to Tokyo and head for its Ci-:z.Labo. There, for $2800, you can enjoy some champagne ~ by bathing in it. Yes, the Celeb Champagne Gold Course consists of a lovely soak in a Jacuzzi filled with 22 bottles of champagne ~ and then a body scrub with diamond dust.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
In a recent issue, Forbes Magazine listed the most expensive properties for sale in the world. The most expensive home on the market is in the wealthy London suburb of Surrey and is listed at $122.2 million dollars. The estate includes a brand-new 103 room mansion on 58 acres, 5 swimming pools, a 50 seat home theatre, bowling alley, and expansive gardens.
If you’re not into jumping the pond, no problem ~ you can still drop a bundle right here in the good ol’ US of A. The most expensive home in North America is in Bridgehampton, NY and listed at $75 million dollars. It’s a 25,000 square foot dwelling set on 60 acres and features a golf course and pro shop that are actually rated by the U.S. Golf Association. There are also 14 gardens, 3 ponds, and a 75 foot swimming pool.
Prefer big city living? Then maybe a penthouse at the Pierre, the pinnacle of Manhattan apartment living, is for you. The hotel’s top 3 floors, including the original and legendary Pierre ballroom (with 23 foot ceilings), offer 360-degree window and terrace views of the Big Apple, and feature black marble staircases, 20 foot French windows, a paneled library, and double reception rooms. The property is available in two parts ~ for $11 million and $59 million ~ or as a single unit.
SLIPPERY WHEN WET
Prefer to keep your current domicile but spruce it up a little? Here’s something you might not have considered: a backyard water park. For a cool $100,000 base price you can order Waterplay®’s exclusive wet-n-wonderful package that includes 26 interactive water columns, maneuverable cannons, spray faces, water games, rotating buckets (sounds almost kinky!) and ground sprays. The customizable setup includes a programmable control panel (to optimize water usage) and a custom water park sign.
160 CARATS AND NOTHING ON
There’s no doubt that we Americans love our television. And I’ll bet we’d all love (and dust!) it more if someone were to give us a $127,240 Yalos Diamond, a white-gold plated TV made with 160 real diamonds totaling 20 carats.
MY, WHAT A BIG DINGHY YOU’VE GOT
The Annaliesse, formerly one of the world’s most impressive charter yachts, is now up for sale. It boasts a full-service meeting room, SatCom, cellular, VHF, UHF, SSB, digital PBX with ISDN compatibility providing 80 lines/5 Inmarsat connections, and a library/theatre room outfitted with a 100” screen. The owner’s stateroom has a king-size bed, a 42-inchTV and panoramic windows that can be covered with a remote control. There are 15 additional ultra-staterooms (the yacht can accommodate 36 passengers) and a slew of luxuriously appointed common areas lined with marble columns. What else will you get for a little over $95 million? Oh, where to begin, where to begin… There’s a spa with main indoor Jacuzzi, separate male and female studios with sauna, steam room, shower, WC and changing rooms, a post treatment relaxation area, hair/nail salon, massage room, and treatment room. The gym offers treadmill, multigym, bicycles, and step and free weights. The saloon and dining room have a bar, Yamaha grand piano, 51’’ Sony Wega Plasma television, surround sound, and DVD and CD players. The lower deck houses 2 x 7.8 m Special Craft tenders with Volvo 230 hp inboard KAD43, 1 x 3.8 m RIB with 35hp outboard, 4 x Yamaha XL 700hp Waverunners, Laser sailing dinghy, water-skis, Kyaks, windsurfers, inflatables and tows, fishing tackle, PADI certified scuba diving equipment including 15 adult and 3 waterproof cameras, 2 scuba scooters. (Diving Centre supported by 2 x PC-Interface-Memo-Mouse-Data track Windows and 2 x air compressors.) Oh, and there’s a children’s play area (yeah, now that would be a deal breaker).
Since the holidays are all about family, why not pack up the kids and maybe an in-law or two and take them on a trip…into space? The Virgin Galactic Charter to Space, at $1,764,000 maybe a little bit more than last summer’s excursion to the Grand Canyon, is the natural evolution of the Burton Rutan-designed SpaceShipOne® that has already completed three space missions and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize® for the first private space flight. Now, funded by Virgin, Rutan is building a bigger, commercial version of SpaceShipOne exclusively for Virgin Galactic. Like Sir Richard Branson’s previous adventures, this venture is being planned, designed, tested, and executed right down to the last detail to ensure its safety and success. Once the $200 million spaceport in New Mexico is completed in 2009, regular private space travel will commence; your 6 passenger charter will begin with 3 days of comprehensive medical assessments followed by space-specific training. Assuming there are no complications, your group will board and take off attached to a launching aircraft ~ the official countdown will then begin when you’re about 10 miles up in the air. SpaceShipTwo® will detach, fire its custom-designed hybrid rocket, and propel you boldly when no man (or at least very few) have gone before. At about 63 miles above sea level, you will get to experience weightlessness. After gliding back to Earth with a runway landing, you, your space companions, and one guest each will be off to Sir Richard’s private island retreat in the British Virgin Islands. You’ll wind down in luxury accommodations on Necker Island and enjoy four nights of festivities. To cap off this out-of-the-world experience, Sir Richard will host an exclusive celebration and personally present each member of your flight with a set of Virgin Galactic astronaut wings.
So there you have it…vacations, cars, jewelry, electronics, clothing and more that could be right out of an episode of VH1’s The Fabulous Of Of… And although most of us won’t be getting anything quite that luxurious under the tree this year, it is fun to fantasize every once in a while. But then again it’s also nice to count our blessings and enjoy the things that really matter during the holidays ~ friends, family, and gifts from the heart.
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