With the arrival of the festive season, thoughts inevitably turn to gift giving. Finding that perfect gift for the special person in your life can be a time consuming and costly endeavour. Add to this the unavoidable hype surrounding the holidays brought on by the onslaught of seasonal advertising, and suddenly buying a gift seems like an event as taxing as an Olympic marathon. But no matter how big, bold, expensive, or rare you may decide to go this season with your holiday gift choices, there will invariably be someone out there who intends to do it bigger, better, and for a whole lot more money. Below are some of the most extravagant gifts that have ever been, or have yet to be given.
The $2 Million Bathtub: Mike Tyson to Robin Givens
Apparently some people just really like to be clean. Back in the early 90’s, American heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson purchased a 24 karat, solid-gold bathtub for his then-wife Robin Givens. Though the couple’s marriage was tainted with reports of domestic violence and wretched excesses of everything from booze to rampant spending, the bathtub, since abandoned by its original owners, has recently fallen into new hands. In June, the glimmering tub was purchased by eccentric American Billionaire Derwood Hodgegrass for a smooth 1.2 million, nearly half of the original price. With the price of gold much higher now than it was when the tub was originally minted, Hodgegrass definitely came out squeaky clean on this one.
The $750,000 Cruise: Oprah Winfrey to the Staff of Harpo Productions
Not once, but twice, Oprah Winfrey has taken the staff of her production company Harpo Productions, on an all-expenses paid holiday. The first time was in 2005, and the second in 2009, when her staff embarked on a Mediterranean cruise which counted Italy, Greece, Malta, Spain, and Turkey amongst its ports of call. Winfrey, one of the world’s richest women, covered the cost of the cruise, transportation, food, drinks, and the cost of any shore excursions in the ports of call that her staff may have wanted to take, thereby earning her the additional title of world’s coolest boss.
The £26,000 Champagne Cooler
I can think of no better way to cool a $1,500 bottle of 2004 Cristal than with a £26,000 Aston Martin champagne cooler. The device, whose sleek and cylindrical design mimics the lines of the sleekest of James Bond’s fleet, has a polished silver exterior and a carbon-fiber interior to prevent inconveniencing the user with the condensation that normally forms with such pedestrian items as regular ice buckets. These are available this season, so join the quickly-forming queue at Harrods.com to pick up one or two for a few of the people on your list.
The £250,000 Virgin Galactic Flight to Space
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s much-touted Virgin Galactic spaceliner has been stirring up quite the press sensation by offering us normal, everyday citizens (who happen to have an extra £250,000 on hand) the opportunity to go where only a select few have gone before. Virgin’s stated goal is to end the exclusivity that has previously been attached to manned space travel, while negating the need for “exhaustive, time consuming” training. Although there will be a brief training period for all potential space travellers, Virgin claims that in their trials, 93% of people aged 22-88 successfully fulfilled the training criteria. The project has been accepting deposits (which are fully-refundable) since 2005, with an anticipated launch date of next year. Sir Richard Branson and his two children Holly and Sam are anticipated to be on the inaugural flight.
The $50,000 Diamond Baby Pacifier
No baby in his or her right mind would want to spit this dummy out! Austrailian jewellery firm Kalfin Jewellery have created a diamond-encrusted baby pacifier that is available in either black or white diamonds with the company’s double-K logo (naturally) inlaid into the design. But more thrifty extravagant shoppers take note, if $50,000 seems a little steep to you for something that your baby may very well toss out of the pram the minute you set off, the company also makes “cheaper”, sterling silver versions that are priced from $180-$500. Thank goodness.
The $20 Million Heart Shaped Island: Angelina Jolie to Brad Pitt
Nothing says I love you like a private island. In anticipation of Brad Pitt’s 50th birthday on the 18th of December, Angelina Jolie is rumoured to have bought him a heart-shaped island just off the coast of New York for a whopping $20 million. The Island, called Petra Island, is a man-made island that apparently boasts not one but two houses that were originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who happens to be Pitt’s favourite designer. According to the builder of the island, the structure of the house is built on top of a billion year-old rock that “goes through the home and into the lake”, is composed of nearly 640 acres, and is large enough to boast an FAA-approved helipad for easy access.
The Flawless Cocktail
Although this one might be a tough sell in these times of austerity, back in the very early days of the credit crunch in ‘07, London’s Movida bar was selling their “Flawless” cocktail for a staggering £35,000 per glass. The cocktail consisted of a half a bottle of champagne, cognac, angostura bitters, brown sugar, gold flakes, and an 11 karat diamond ring at the bottom of the glass. And if clients started to fret about where to set this loaded concoction down for a quick trip to the loo (using a coaster, of course), they needn’t have worried. The drink also came with two security guards who watched as the drink was being prepared and delivered. The guards then proceeded to watch over the client’s table until the very last drop was consumed. It is not known whether or not the clients were allowed to keep the glass, but it would likely be a safe assumption to assert that there were no free refills of the Flawless Cocktail.