The holidays, as we all know, are a time for giving. The rich, however, give new meaning to the word generosity. Just look at Warren Buffet, who is bequeathing all his money to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. But what happens if the plaything in a rich man or woman's life is a teensy weensy bit more materialistic?
Blow-out present time, that's what it is. And if the gift is big, then it probably means forking out a five-figure sum on wrapping paper, plus giftwrap-wallahs to make the unboxing-day experience one to remember. Maybe there's something here on your list — if you're a billionaire.
1. Hermes 8 Days Spiral Boule Clock
The size of one of those hard leather balls used in Cricket (the interminable, strategic and utterly British version of Baseball), the 8 Days Spiral Boule Clock from French luxury goods house Hermes is expensive. Like over half-a-mil expensive. For $560,000 the clock — you wind it by twisting the two half spheres of its body — goes eight days on a single wind, has a white gold face and a button at six o'clock that you press when you want to change the time rather than wind it. Hell, for that price, I want a clock that changes time zone via telepathy.
2. Polished Steel Ping-Pong table
Whether you call it Ping-Pong or Wiff-Waff, table tennis is the kind of game you can while away on your yacht (as long as you're not stuck in a Force Eleventy gale, although it might be a bit more fun, actually). This mirrored table by artist Rirkrit Tiravanija is just $55,000, and I suppose that, should you tire of thwacking a small plastic ball over a skirting board-sized net, there are a few more things you could do on it. Pick your zits, for starters.
3. Gulfstream 250
"Nice tail!" I hear you all say. This is the Gulfstream 250, a saucy little number that seats ten, plus two crew, and costs an estimated $24 million. The company announced its new bird last month, but potential owners won't be taking delivery until 2011. An upgrade to the Gulfstream 200, the 250 has a very hi-tech glass cockpit, plus heated leading edges to prevent ice build-up. It does look a bit poky inside, though — but then, I always was a big house kinda girl.
4. Perfect 8 5.1 surround sound system
There's something about this smorgasbord of green-tinted glass and brass that makes me think of the hostess trolley that Alexis Colby Carrington Dexter Whojamaflip's maid probably wheeled around when La Joanie was too tired to entertain her menfriends/shriek — "Watch it, Blake, for Carrington Oil will be mine — and sooner than you think!" — crisply down the telephone/soak saucily in a teardrop-shaped sunken bath/mend the fuse on her hairdryer. Any of you feeling remotely sympathetic towards your pockets right now should look at Swedish company Perfect8's surround sound system as a bargain — six components for just $500,000.
For a sigh under $60,000 you can get this gold-coated ostrich-skin travel case with gold-leaf interior. Designed by a Dutch businessman, the Henk Travelfriend has a central locking system and two wheels (one to make it go forwards, the other for sideways sliding) and it begs the question: Mr. Henk, didn't you have anything better to do with your time?
6. Larry Hagman's eco-home
Nestled in the hills of Ojai, California, one-time oil baron Larry Hagman's eco home is up for grabs. The former Dallas actor is flogging the house he built in 1992, which contains nine bedrooms and 15 bathrooms. The eco-warrior (so you can't accuse him of being typecast) has installed solar panels, reducing the $37,000 annual electricity bill to a more manageable $13 a year. As well as stunning views over the Pacific, there's a saltwater lap pool built under a retractable roof. Larry's looking for a smaller property around the L.A. area, so any Angelenos reading this might suggest a house swap.