St. Nick may be pulling in his horns this Christmas because of the slumping economy, but not for everybody. Granted, the economy is in the doghouse, but not everyone is wailing.
In New York City, for example, every few days brings a new article or TV feature about the comeback of luxury spending. That's nonsense! It never went away. The city's fat wallet crowd, which still has the bucks to buy whatever it wants, simply became less flamboyant in a sagging economy.
Indicative that luxury spending is alive and well are a half dozen richly priced offerings making the rounds. These are those dazzlers, unusual guaranteed attention-getters that are bound to be conversation pieces because of their exclusivity and price.
If that's your shtick--to own something or maybe give someone a special gift for Christmas (now less than three months away) that will simply wow 'em--here's how to impress the dickens out of everybody.
If you wind up saying, hey, forget it, you're mixing me up with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates because they're out of sight, I'm with you. Still, there's a market for almost everything, extravagant as it may seem, even in hard times.
Kicking off the city's ultra-luxury scene is an item for folks who crave the water. No, not a yacht or one of those lightening fast speed boats, but a personal submarine that can fit two people and descend to a depth of 1,000 feet. The craft, propelled by thrusters that provide up, down and lateral control, offers access to such underwater features as coral reefs, shipwrecks and the sea floor. A VHF radio provides surfaced communication and an underwater telephone enables communication while submerged. Price: $2 million.
A bottle of perfume hardly seems like a memorable Christmas gift. Not so, though, in the case of Clive Christian, an English perfume, one of the world's most expensive and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. Offered exclusively in New York City by Bergdorf Goodman, it's a jasmine fragrance, housed in a gold bottle, 1 3/4 ounces, that goes for $865.
Or if milady has all the perfume she needs, an alternative gift worth considering is a pair of brief lace and mesh throng panties at Madison Avenue's La Perla. "Irresistible and a steal at just $200," I was told. As an added plus, the ultra-expensive lingerie retailer has an arrangement with a number of the world's finest hotels. Pay for three nights and you stay for four.
Speaking of hotels, if you want to treat your friends or relatives to a stay in the Big Apple during the Christmas season and be located directly across the street from Central Park and busy Fifth Avenue, the Plaza will be happy to accommodate you. For $20,000 a night, you get a whole floor, replete with a three-bedroom suite, a full gym, a grand piano, a full kitchen and a view of Fifth Avenue. No minimum stay is required. If all that space is not needed, a one-bedroom suite with a Central Park view is also available at just $2,860 a night.
A big problem in holiday shopping is trying to get a gift for someone who supposedly has everything. Paul Cardile, a leading art and antique adviser, thinks he has the answer: a gold Faberge snuff box designed by Peter Carl Faberge, a master jewelry designer for the Russian nobility. They're available at New York retailer Vielle Russe at $200,000 and up. One distinct plus, says Cardile: they go up in value every year, far outdistancing the rate of inflation.
Imagine inviting someone to join you in an after-dinner drink. That would be your Christmas present to them. If you're about to say, that's being a cheapskate, don't! The drink in question is a two-ounce shot of Hardy Perfection, a blend of vintage cognacs dating back to the 1860s. It's the world's most expensive cognac. Just two New York restaurants offer it: Del Frisco's steakhouse (a shot will run you $979.88) and Tse Yang, an upscale Chinese restaurant ($800).
"It's aromatic, like a perfume" says Tse Yang owner Larry Lo. "You don't get the alcohol smell on the nose like you do with younger cognacs."
It's more of a conversation piece, Lo says, although five hedge fund managers, prior to the recent stock market crash, did order a round of the cognac, which cost them $4,000. That wasn't the end of it. Two of them, obviously smitten with the drink, came back a few nights later for an encore. In total, that's a tab of $5,600 for the seven drinks.
The bottom line here: These are not examples of simply buying where money is no object, but where money is the object.
What do you think? E-mail me at Dandordan@aol.com.