NEW YORK (Reuters) - For the golf enthusiast who still has $1 million to spare after the Wall Street meltdown: a backyard golf course custom-designed by champ Jack Nicklaus for Christmas.
Or how about life-size Lego replicas of you and your beloved for $60,000?
Equestrians can splurge on a $10 million Kentucky horse farm, complete with a stable of up to 15 thoroughbreds. You’ll get to keep all the purses and trophies you’re sure to win and celebrate in your $250,000 authentic Guinness pub.
High-end retailer Neiman Marcus has put these and more luxury gifts on display in its annual holiday gift guide. The catalog traditionally features the extravagant and wacky. This year, the message may be lost in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, but the gifts on offer are no less flamboyant.
Even luxury customers, typically resilient during more moderate economic downturns, have felt the pressure of Wall Street’s woes as markets tumble and their portfolios shrink.
Which begs the question, who would pay $110,000 for a chance to shoot some hoops with the Harlem Globetrotters?
Neiman officials admit the gifts represent a flight of imagination for the better part of the catalog’s readers.
“The whole purpose of these fantasy gifts is to make people smile,” said Ginger Reeder, spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus Direct. “I mean they’re fantasies. We’re not saying: ‘You’ve got to rush out and have yourself made in Legos.’ It’s like, wouldn’t that be fun?”
It also offers an escape for people who dream of owning a 35-year collection of every 45 RPM record listed on the Billboard Top 100 Rock and Pop charts through the end of 1990, yours for a mere $275,000 -- shipping extra.
“In the midst of all this dark and dreary news that’s got us all so sad and down, I’d like to think that somebody could open this book up and smile, and think: ‘Oh man, I could have 18 thousand 45s!’” Reeder said.
The annual holiday catalog, which began as a Christmas card to clients in 1926, boasts the latest in couture, high heels and high-end accessories such as purses, leather wallets and cashmere wraps.
But when the catalog arrives in the mail in early October, many readers first flip to the decadent and off-the-wall gifts, creating buzz for the Dallas-based retailer.
You want speed? A $110,000 fighter motorcycle will take you 190 miles per hour on its carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum chassis.
And for football season, Dallas Cowboys fans can “honor battles won and heroes lost over 38 glorious years” with an entire stadium end zone in your backyard for $500,000.
Even if Neiman could have predicted tough economic times, it wouldn’t have tamed its more outrageous offerings, such as a platinum wedding package at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, California, starting at $1.3 million.
“Sometimes bad times are even better for fantasy,” Reeder added.
Editing by Andre Grenon
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