LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For the couple with $110,000 to burn for Christmas: a portrait of him and her drawn in chocolate syrup?
Or if botanically inclined, how about a 100-foot-long dragon topiary complete with gold-leafed horns and blown glass eyes?
Music fans with a lot of friends? What about a $1.59 million classical music concert by the Kirov Orchestra “for you and 499 of your closest friends?”
The chocolate portrait by artist Vik Muniz, the $30,000 dragon topiary and the fantasy concert are on offer in the latest holiday gift guide from luxury retailer Neiman Marcus — but only for the most adventurous and well-heeled gift-seekers, of course.
The annual holiday catalog, which began as a Christmas card to clients in 1926, always boasts the latest in couture, high heels and high-end accessories like 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 fantasy gifts, creating buzz for the Dallas-based retailer, which turned 100 this year.
“They’re chosen for their publicity value,” said Ginger Reeder, spokeswoman for Neiman Marcus Direct, adding that the decades-old tradition is intended to spur the question: “Who in the world would buy this?”
But Reeder said she can never know for sure which items will remain a fantasy, and which will actually sell.
“I have to be prepared that they are the finest of what they are to uphold the Neiman Marcus reputation,” she said.
The concert features the Kirov Orchestra led by Valery Gergiev and pianist Lola Astanova playing classics such as the Nutcracker Suite. Regis Philbin hosts, and the Steinway piano is thrown in for free.
And for those who just want to get away from it all, Neiman Marcus offers a submarine that can dive to depths of 1,000 feet or a two-seat ultralight aircraft that was used during an international conservation effort for endangered Monarch butterflies.
Feeling more traditional? How about a diamond phone, encrusted with 7.2 carats of white and pink diamonds, with 24-hour global concierge service included, or a 2008 Lexus IS F special-edition luxury sedan.
And for the ultra-rich who tire of their butlers, Neiman Marcus offers a “conversational robot” for $75,000.
Inevitably, every year some potential gift ideas for the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog just don’t make the grade, Reeder said, citing a “working guillotine” that was once submitted.
“They thought that would be a great executive toy, but that just didn’t seem right,” Reeder said.