America’s rich like to spend money. In fact, the top 10% are responsible for half of all consumer spending in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. And this holiday season, they are projected to spend even more than usual.
Of course, the wealthy do not do their holiday shopping at Walmart. Instead, they buy luxury items through specialty shops that the average American doesn’t even know exist. 24/7 Wall St. looked at some of the most expensive holiday gifts the wealthy buy one another.
According to the American Affluence Research Center, the rich will increase their spending this holiday season even more than they usually do. They will spend $23.5 billion on holiday gifts, an increase of 2.3% compared to last year. Spending among the average consumer, on the other hand, is expected to decrease.
The rich do not spend their money at the same places as the average consumers. Luxury gifts do not come from Target. They are purchased directly from top tier companies and are often available only in select cities. A Franck Muller Aeternitas Mega Grande Complications watch, for instance, is available only by special-order and only in New York or Geneva. Similarly, many high-end collections from designers such as Stefano Ricci are only available in a small number of stores in major cities, such as New York and Beverly Hills. This is doubly the case for airplanes, yachts and luxury automobiles.
One reason luxurious goods are so expensive is because they are less common. Only a few hundred luxurious sports cars, for example, are made for many models. Many of the finest cigars, wines and scotches are also produced in limited quantities. This rarity shortens supply, drives demand and ensures that the products are available only to a certain class of people.
To compile this list of the eleven holiday gifts Americans cannot afford, 24/7 Wall St. looked through the recommendations of Robb Report magazine, the self-ascribed “definitive authority on connoisseurship for ultra-affluent consumers,” and chose one of the most expensive items in eleven categories. We then looked at what it is that makes each item luxurious.
1. Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport
> Category: Automobiles
> Price: $2,000,000
The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, which is capable of producing 1,001 hp and 922 ft-lbs of torque, took more than five years to develop. The automobile reaches 60 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds and is capable of exceeding speeds of 250 mph. Better still, the top comes off.
2. Airbus A380 Prestige
> Category: Aviation
> Price: $346,300,000
The A380 is the world’s largest passenger aircraft. Although not a common gift, Airbus has reportedly sold at least one of the massive jets to a private buyer. The A380 has the capacity to carry 525 passengers in a comfortable three-class configuration, and up to 853 in a single-class configuration. Interested customers will have to spend nearly $350 million on the aircraft.
3. Arturo Fuente Fuente OpusX
> Category: Cigars
> Price: $36.95 per cigar
Due to its limited production, the Fuente OpusX is one of the rarest cigars in the world. It is the first all-Dominican puro, with each cigar aged for two or more years. According to Robb Report, “only the very best rollers are permitted to make the OpusX, and a separate OpusX room, reserved solely for the creation of these cigars, has been set aside at the Santiago factory.”
4. Alfa Nero
> Category: Boating & Yachting
> Price: $177,238,602
The Alfa Nero superyacht includes an office, dressing area, bathroom with a steam shower and hot tub, and a private outdoor patio with a second hot tub. And that’s just in the boat’s master suite. Better still, the yacht includes a rear pool area that converts into a helipad or dance floor, a sun bathing deck, a gym, beauty salon, and a cinema. One can rent the yacht for more than $1.1 million per week. To purchase, the yacht costs $177,238,602.
5. Goldmund Media Room
> Category: Electronics
> Price: $300,000
The Goldmund Media Room is a “media room home theater speaker system.” The audio/visual system is custom built and configured for each customer’s unique theater space. The starting price is $300,000, and it includes 128 aluminum-enclosed speaker drivers, each with its own amplifier. Of course, there are plenty of options for upgrade.
6. Stefano Ricci Super 160s wool suit
> Category: Fashion
> Price: $5,800
Florentine designer Stefano Ricci is most well known for his leather outerwear and accessories. His line is often considered to be the most expensive and luxurious in the world. Ricci’s suits are almost entirely hand-made using almost exclusively of fabrics designed by Ricci. His Super 160s wool suits start at $5,800, and other Ricci suits cost up to $30,000.
7. The Macallan 55 Year Old Scotch Whisky
> Category: Spirits
> Price: $15,000
The Macallan describes its own whisky creation as “one of the finest ever creative collaborations between Scotland and France,” referring to the combination Scotch whisky and a French made bottle. The Macallan 55 Year Old Scotch Whisky is a single malt, with “deep notes of exotic dried fruits with a wonderfully soft, spicy finish with lingering touches of citrus,” writes Robb. With only 420 Lalique-designed crystal decanters available in the world, the Macallan 55 Year Old Scotch Whisky is a very rare, limited-edition item.
8. Four Seasons Hotel, New York
> Category: Travel
> Price: $30,000 a night
The Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th St. in Manhattan is not only among the most luxurious in New York, but in the world. This is especially true of the hotel’s Ty Warner Penthouse, which is located on the 52nd floor. No hotel room in the city is located on a higher floor. Although average room rates in the hotel are $695 per night, the 400-square-meter Ty Warner Penthouse goes for $30,000 a night. The penthouse features an indoor-outdoor Zen garden, floor-to-ceiling bay windows, 25-foot cathedral ceilings, a 360-degree view of all of Manhattan, the services of a personal butler, personal trainer/therapist, as well as a private chauffeur.
9. Krug 1996 Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs Reims Champagne
> Category: Wine
> Price: $2,500
The Krug 1996 Clos d’Ambonnay Blanc de Noirs Reims Champagne, a single-vineyard blanc de noirs Champagne, is the product of Pinot Noir vines in the village of Ambonnay. The champagne features flavors of kirsch, brioche, and almond. One bottle of the bubbly will set a person back $2,500.
10. Aeternitas Mega Grande Complications
> Category: Watches
> Price: $1,000,000+
The Megas, made by Franck Muller, are advertised as “the most complicated wrist watch[es] ever made in the world.” The watches feature “a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, grande and petite sonneries, minute repeater, and Westminster carillon.” There are four different versions of the watch. Each costs more than $1 million, with the Aeternitas Mega 4, available only in New York and Geneva, costing $2,700,000.
> Category: Fine Dining
> Price: $450 per person
This Japanese restaurant, located in New York City’s Time Warner Center, is one of the most expensive restaurants in the country, according to Zagat. Diners receive five simple appetizers, a sushi course made of 15 to 20 types of fresh seafood flown in from Japan, and dessert. For those looking to make a habit of dining at Masa, the restaurant keeps track of what each customer is served, so each time one dines it is a different experience.
Charles B. Stockdale