There’s an old adage about people who spend a lot of money on frivolous things: More money than sense. Or what about “a fool and his money are soon parted.” And when it comes to items made from or decorated with gold, there seems to be no end of fools with little sense.
When it comes to fashioning or adorning everyday items with solid gold, Russia’s nouveau riche, the filthy rich oil Sheikhs and gold mad Chinese can’t get enough of the stuff. The Sultan of Brunei lines his walls with sheets of gold. Gas rich Russians drive gold cars. And Chinese gold traders make toilets out of 24 carat solid gold.
The idea is not new. In ancient China, temples and pavilions were lined with sheets of gold, inside and out. And in a visible display of wealth and power in ancient Egypt, King Tut and other Pharaohs were laid to rest in gold sarcophaguses.
And the reason? Gold is valuable, very valuable. Gold prices have been up and down, but allowing around $1,000 per ounce is about right these days. China and India have the largest stock of gold and it is no coincidence that a lot of the items in this list are marketed and sold in those countries to people with more billions than common sense.
In the cases of most of the items on this list, the tag “most expensive” is a marketing ploy to get attention, to get space in newspapers, magazines and online. It splashes a product or company’s name all over the place and shouts luxury and quality. The press will flock to the items for the shock and novelty factors. It seems (though bargain hunters would balk at this) nothing sells better than “most expensive”.
There is a scale of weirdness in terms of gold-ifying regular things. The least outrageous are things like Christmas trees, decorated with gold bows and ornaments. Several steps up on the gold ladder, we find things that are embellished in gold – not gold plated, but completely covered with sheets of solid gold. Everyday items such as cars, stretch limos and even rifles have been known to be embellished in gold. At its worst, gold mania stretches to solid gold toilet paper and toilets.
Off the weirdness scale altogether is artist Terence Koh, who sold his gold plated feces for $500,000. Luckily, no pictures seem to have survived, and you won’t find that on this list. But from caskets to gold toilets, here are the most strangest and some of the most expensive items of their kind made with solid gold.
10. Gold Pill: $425 each
Designed by Tobias Wong, these pill cases are part of a total luxury line by Citizen Citizen. Listed as currently unavailable on their site, the 24 carat gold pills are made from gold leaf and then dipped in gold. A thirty day supply would cost nearly $13,000 (or $152,000 a year). New York’s Museum of Modern Art made the pills part of its “Indulgence” exhibition in 2005. What does not bear thinking about is the fact that at the end of the day, the gold will re-emerge into the world. Is that the weirdest part?
9. The Gold Facial: $1,000
When looked at against other things in this article, a two hour $1,000 facial seems like a bargain. It’s all relative. Cleopatra was said to spread solid gold over her face each night in order to preserve her youthful beauty. In 2006, Japanese compay Umo, Inc. put out a 24 carat gold facial. Don’t look for it at your favorite spa; it is available at places like Raffles Dubai Hotel and Harrods. Apparently, beauty experts have put some mumbo jumbo credibility into the claim of gold’s beneficial effects on the skin. Remember the joke in the movie Mama Mia when Christine Baranski’s character was said to have face cream made from donkeys testicles, caviar and gold…?
8. $35,000 chocolate pudding
Edible gold leaf is the darling of the upmarket food world. Take any old dish and throw in some gold leaf and a few diamonds and you end up with what your marketing people will be ecstatic to dub “the most expensive” in the world. And if you can get into the Guinness Book of Records, you’ve made it big time. Gold leaf is thrown into everything from pizza to cupcakes. This “pudding”, that looks more like a $35,000 brownie, is adorned with gold leaf, caviar and a 2 carat diamond. The posh country house hotel in the U.K’s. Lake District claims that it is the most expensive dessert in the world and you have to order it two weeks in advance.
7. Gold Casket: $50,000
Manufactured by the aptly named Golden Caskets, this 24 carat gold handmade final resting place sports Ruby Red velvet interior trim. And you get a certificate of authenticity, a matching Gold Reflection Picture Frame and a Gold Keepsake Box to take with you. The company web site is too discreet to mention anything so vulgar as price, but research reveals a value of around $50,000 which makes it, unofficially, the most expensive modern casket in the world.
6. Gold Shirt: $250,000
The shirt made for and worn by Indian Datta Phuge was made from 14,000 pieces of 22 carat gold, by Rankar Jewelers. It took 15 craftsmen 16 days to turn it out. Nicknamed “the gold man” Phuge is a dazzling sight, with gold everywhere on his body. The shirt, which weighs 7 pounds, doesn’t get out much, as Phuge only wears it to special occasions.
5. Toilet and Toilet Paper: Toilet – $2.5 million, Toilet Paper – $1.3 million
And you thought Kanye and Kim spending nearly $1 million for mere gold plated toilets was extravagant… In Hong Kong we find the most expensive restroom in the world. Built by the Hang Fung Gold Technology Group in 2001, it has 24 carat gold and jewel embellished walls and a solid gold toilet. Not sheets of gold, but solid gold. Said to be worth $2.5 million, the toilet remains unused and intact. At least if the Hong Kong economy goes belly up, they can always liquidated their asset.
And for the ultimate throwaway luxury, consider the $1.3 million solid gold roll of toilet paper produced by Australian company The Toilet Paper Man. Cue plenty of jokes about flushing your money down the toilet.
4. Abu Dhabi Christmas Tree: $11 million
Erected in 2010 in a 7 star Abu Dhabi hotel, this tree is certified by Guinness as the most expensive decorated tree in the world. The 40 foot evergreen is bedecked with gold bows, ornaments and garlands. Gold wrapping paper adorns the presents at its base. And it drips precious stones. Compared to the toilet, it seems almost normal.
3. Poker Set: $7.5 million
Designed by Geoffrey Parker, this set’s case is alligator, lined in suede. The game gems are fitted with 18 carat gold and the chips are set with precious stones while the dealer button is 18 carat gold, set with diamonds. You can only imagine how high the poker stakes would get with this multi-million dollar set.
2. Gold Covered iPhone: $15 million
What’s weirdest about this is trying to imagine who would buy it. Manufactured by Stuart Hughes Jewelers, this is the most expensive cell phone in the world. Made from 22 carat solid gold, the Apple logo and sides are encrusted with diamonds. You really don’t want to to drop this phone in the toilet…
1. Lamborghini: $62 million
The market for gold cars is big in the oil-rich Middle East, China and Russia. These are cars embellished with sheets of gold that cover the outside, and gold trim on the inside.
In October of 2012 Lamborghini’s Dubai showroom unveiled a Lamborghini made from gold, platinum, and encrusted with diamonds. The price tag? $7.8 million. And that’s only the scaled down version, a prototype intended to whet the appetites of the filthy rich. It’s 8 times smaller than the real thing (and 12 times more expensive), meaning that a full sized version would go for around $62 million.
Ferrari, BMW and Rolls Royce also have gold cars. In 2012 in China, Lincoln displayed a gold stretch limo. And there’s a gold embellished Rolls Royce in the Middle East that comes complete with turrets for machine guns, just in case. For that, the price tag is $8.2 million.