This week LLNYC is introducing a new column: “For what it’s worth.” We’ll take a biweekly look at the wasteful, outrageous and sometimes remarkable ways the world’s big spenders are investing their doubloons. In our inaugural post, we’ll focus on the money spent in the weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
While I’ve always known that the world is divided into the haves and have nots, lately I’ve noticed a new division. Read the news and you’ll see big bucks being spent in two distinct ways.
There are those — on both sides of the political aisle — who are getting serious, and using their cash to make political statements. And then there are those wacky one percenters who continue to spend big bucks on bizarre luxuries.
Of course, people have long donated to Super PACs and eaten $5,000 burgers. But never has the contrast between those hoping to make a difference and those ready to watch the world burn been starker.
For example, ahead of her controversial appointment as Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos admitted that her family might have donated as much as $200 million to the GOP (although she says she can’t be sure, because well, pocket change is hard to keep track of). Meanwhile, her political opponents were joining the “Grab Your Wallet” campaign, which urges the boycott of any retailer carrying Trump-branded products. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, which both carried Ivanka Trump-branded merchandise, felt the backlash. And Nordstrom recently announced that it would no longer carry “Trump” swag. The same tactic worked on Uber. Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, was ultimately forced to leave the president’s advisory panel after #deleteuber went viral.
Over the last few weeks, the politicization of consumption also changed the fortunes of Uber competitor Lyft. Lyft donated $1 million to the ACLU the weekend of the proposed seven-country immigration ban. Others followed suit and the civil liberties organization ended up raising more than $24 million in a single weekend.
In all of the aforementioned instances, no matter which political side you are on, you have to acknowledge that money is doing some serious work. Big bucks are being used to make some hefty statements and bring about nationwide, if not global, change.
But for those who prefer to laugh than cry, or sigh contentedly instead of grimace with rage, money was spent far more frivolously.
To wit: you can now buy an $18 cup of coffee at Alpha Dominche, a Utah-based manufacturer of high-end coffee and tea brewing machines, which opened an Extraction Lab at Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Visitors can now watch baristas operate the pricey machines — a pair cost $13,900. I guess it’s good to know that your coffee is ethically sourced when you are spending an unethical amount of dough.
Ever thirsty for the priciest libations, the cash laden want H20 that is H2OMG, expensive! We reported last week that you can now buy “limited edition” Svalbarði brand bottles of melted iceberg water. What better way to feel like the king of the world than gulping down a bottle of $60 water? It’s like fancy attire for your insides! And it certainly makes the bitter pill of global warming easier to swallow.
Or, I suggest just passing on the water and keeping the container — as ball gowns made from recycled plastic bottles are all the rage.
And speaking of balls gowns, if you have cash (or a constitution) to burn, might I suggest ensconcing yourself in this metallic number by designer Caroline Herrera to the tune of $5,000. Wearing it on the night hundreds of visa and green card holders were being detained with threats of deportation? Priceless.
While people are busy protesting a proposed wall separating Mexico and the U.S., I say why not go all out, and make the wall gold using 14-carat LEGO bricks. Called “The Holy Grail of LEGO bricks,” the metallic toy just sold at auction for roughly $20,000. I’m not sure how many would be needed to construct the 1,900-mile barrier, but I’m fairly certain that the Lego butler at Ashford Castle, a five-star hotel in a lavish 13th-century castle in scenic Western Ireland, would make an excellent consultant.
But hell, if things continue as they are, I recommend sinking your money into the afterlife instead. According to Nerdist, a company will press your ashes into a working vinyl album. What better way to become more than just a one-hit wonder and make yourself into a gold record? The service starts at $3,700 and there are a bunch of funky add-ons you can include like custom artwork and an original message.
If you fear you don’t have a good beat and people won’t be able to dance to you, you can always have your ashes made into a diamond ring — starting at $5,000.
Perhaps all this talk of death is morbid, but I find the current politic mania exhausting and I just want a nap (don’t you?). Not only can trying to fix it clear out your bank account, but staying woke is also causing chronic insomnia. In which case I suggest investing one of these fine luxury beds.