2019 review: 20 costliest items the world spent top-dollar on

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 31, 2019 16:34 hrs
2019 review: 20 costliest items the world spent top-dollar on

2020 is here and so are predictions and forecasts. Our magnifying glass suggests the world may spend insane stuff on food and fruits in 2020. And then there are those non-edibles too that non-foodies would like to buy in 2020.

The top-dollar, surprisingly, in 2019 was not spent on exotic per se but fruits and some veggies (read Onions) as well. From bananas to Shoes, and cars to bikes, and even a divorce, here's a list of top 20 items, the world spent an insane amount of money on in 2019:


#20: Donkey Cheese: 80,000 per kilo


Its Donkeys all the way in Pakistan

We may have seen ice-cream sundae's being sold for $25,000 and Hamburgers selling for an insane five grands, but the world was hell-bent on spending a bomb on food and eatables in 2019 than previous years.

If Onions were the rage in India this year, the international trend seemed to be Donkeys. Donkey Cheese to be precise. Pule or Donkey Cheese has been quite popular since 2012, but this year we caught this special Cheese made in Serbia for 1,000 euros or at least Rs 80,000 per kilo. That's nearly double of what the White Stilton cheese, popular in Great Britain costs. The Serbian cheese, surprisingly is much popular than donkey-cheese made in Siberia (previous costlier variant).

A 62 year old cheese-maker called Slobodan Simic (also a Parliamentarian) was in news for milking his Donkeys to a perfect "Say-Cheese" moment. The Serbian Cheese was quite a rage in 2012 when rumours flew far and thick that Tennis-star Novak Djokovic had bought a huge stock of the product. The rumours were never confirmed, but the demand for Serbian Donkey Cheese has only seen a meteoric rise.

Simic's 200 donkeys produce some 8,000 litres of milk every year at his 4,500 acre farm near Belgrade. Besides donkey-cheese, Simic manages selling milk and other products. Its reported that his farm also has a huge number of pigs.


#19 Costlier Fruits in 2019


Image Courtesy DrTomoStyle

2019, certainly seemed like the year people paid a bomb on food-stuffs. Fruits especially. The world saw much more than just Onions and Bananas in 2019 for all the good and bad reasons. A bunch of red grapes was sold in July for 1.2 million yen ($11,000). Called The "Ruby Roman" in Japan, this variant of Red Grapes is known for being extremely juicy with little acidity and a high sugar content. Each grape of the breed, developed by the Ishikawa prefectural government, weighs more than 20 grams, according to Kyodo News Agency.


A sample image of a Durian fruit, Wikipedia

Durian, a spike-shaped fruit mostly bittersweet in taste also made record in 2019. An ordinary Durian sells for approximately $16 in Bangkok, but the top variants with a long stem called Kanyao Durian are a prized lot. The good ones fetch at least 20,000 baht or $638 per fruit. In June, an auction of expensive durian fruits in Nonthaburi (a town in Thailand) saw a King Kanyao Durian fetch 1,500,000 baht. That's approximately $48,000.


That $120,000 BANANA that made news

Bananas were the ultimate trending stuff of 2019. At the start of the year, high-end hotel JW Mariott paid Rs 25,000 in fine for charging GST on two bananas served to actor Rahul Bose. That episode was quite a trend with social media feasting on that banana of a story for several weeks.

Social media again went bananas when an art house in Miami displayed a duck-taped banana as an art installation. The artwork, titled "Comedian", by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, was priced at a nasty price of $120,000. After being displayed for a few days, catching the interest of curious onlookers and social media alike, performance artist David Datuna audaciously peeled off the duct tape... And, gobbled it all up.

Social media was abuzz, and a little horrified to find Datuna feasting on that banana. Well, think of it feasting on $120,000 bananas at an art-house and then managing to go scot-free? The art-house reportedly said that "(Datuna) did not destroy the art work. The banana is the idea."

Dont be shocked if you see Apples, Mangoes, Jackfruits or even Onions getting duck-taped in 2020.


#18 Golden Needle Tea: 75,000 per kilo


A sample image of Tea.

When coffee brewed from seeds dropped by Civet, a tropical mammal in South East Asia, can sell usually for $80-100 per cup, why not Tea! FYI, that coffee is called Copi luwak or Civet Coffee.

Online tea seller Absolute Tea paid an astronomical Rs 75,000 per kilo for Golden tea produced by Donyipolo Tea Estate.

The new record for Golden Tea is nothing newsy for the tea-planters, after all they have been regularly breaching records every year.


#17 That $46,000 Crab


An image of Crabs

What do you do with something that can't even walk straight? Would you spend a five-figure to do so? Some Japanese crab-lover tried getting a crustacean to walk straight.

The unnamed crab-lover paid five million yen for a 1.2 kilo snow-crab at an auction in Japan. We dont know if the crab ever walked straight after the auction but it did set a new world record for the costliest crab.

This crab that we are talking about was nicknamed five shining star. 2019's top-dollar for a snow-crab ($46,000) was double the price of what money paid for a top-crab in 2018 ($18,000).


#16 bomb / bite Chocolate at Rs 5.87 lakhs / kilo:


Want to buy Attimo Zurich Chocolates? Try it here

Sometime in the year, food and beverage manufacturer, ITC claimed of introducing the world's most expensive chocolate. ITC's Fabelle Exquisite Chocolates introduced its limited edition range chocolate 'Trinity - Truffles Extraordinaire'. The chocolates were reported as having entered the Guinness World Records book as world's most expensive chocolate at approximately Rs 4.3 lakh per kg.

The limited edition offering will be encased in a hand-made wooden box, containing 15 truffles, each weighing approximately 15 grams. The made-to-order box will be available at an indulgent price of Rs one lakh inclusive of taxes, ITC said in a statement.

The most expensive chocolate sold for 6268.50 GBP/kg and was achieved by Attimo Chocolate Zurich (Switzerland), in Zürich, Switzerland, on 31 October 2019. In Rupee terms, that's Rs 5,87,295.86 to be precise. A 80 gram chocolate bar of 'La Chuorsa' costs CHF 640 (501.75 GBP). The ingredients include saffron grown in the Swiss village Mund, crystallised orange crisps and 68% Chuao chocolate from Venezuela.


#15 Most Expensive Computer: $53,000


Apple CEO Tim Cook during the launch of Mac Pro.

The 2019 Mac Pro is indeed pricey.

Its so pricey that an entry-level Porsche looks cheaper.

Priced upwards of $53,000, here's a little detail from Tim Cook and Apple's latest Mac Pro.


#14 Most expensive cake: At least a million bucks


Designer Debbie Wingham giving deft touches to The Million Dollar Bride.

Named the Million dollar bride, this lady in white stood at the Dubai World Trade center capturing the attention of curious onlookers in November.

The "million dollar bride" is neither a human nor a mannequin but a million dollar cake made out of 1,000 eggs and 20 kilos of chocolate.

Celebrated couture designer Debbie Wingham's design was replete with intricately deteailed dress, a headscarf, and a bouquet of flowers. The cake also had edible diamonds. This one entered the record books as the most costliest cake.


#13 A fishy acquisition at $3.1 million


An AP image of Kimura, the Japanese Sushi Tycoon.

Kiyoshi Kimura, a Japanese Sushi Tycoon (owner of Sushizanmai chain) bought this 278 kilos of (612lbs) bluefin tuna, an endangered species, at an auction in Tokyo for a whopping $3.1 million or 333.6 million yen.

Speaking to media agencies after laying hands on that Fish, Kimura said, "The tuna looks so tasty because its fat and very fishy."

Kimura although happy at his successful bid quipped, "I expected it (Tuna) will be between 30 million and 50 million yen or highest at 60 million yen, but it ended up five times more expensive."


#12 Elvis Presley's HD for less than a million


An image of the Harley Davidson motorcycle owned once by Elvis Presley. Pioneer Auto Show.

Of the most popular and note-worthy transactions this year, a Harley Davidson owned once by Elvis Presley made record as the third most expensive bike in the world.

GWS auctions put up a 1976 Harley-Davidson FLH 1200 Electra Glide. The bike was expected to fetch $2 million, but it sold only for $800,000, approximately Rs 5.7 crores. FYI, the world's costliest motorcycle sold for a high of $434,000 - The Vincent White Show.

Presley, reportedly, owned the bike only for three months and sold it to a dealership shortly before his death.


#11 Parking space for a million bucks


A wikipedia image of the ground floor lobby of The Center.

B1-1023, a 135 sq. feet parking bay at The Center, a 73-storey commercial building in Hong Kong, is officially the priciest spot to park your vehicle.

That parking spot changed hands in Oct'19 for HK$7.6 million (US$969,000), a price three times more than Hong Kong's median home price.

This is the 5th tallest building in Hong Kong and at 346 metres is the 66th tallest in the world. There are a reported 400 parking spots reported in this building. Johnny Cheung Shun-yee, the former owner sold the remaining three parking spots for a six-figure each.


#10 Armando: Look! That's a million dollar flier!


Courtesy Armando on Pigeon Paradise.

At the start of Mar'19, sale of this pigeon named Armando for 1.25 million euros resulted in quite a flutter among bird-lovers. Online auction site Pigeon Paradise had initially pegged Armando's sale at upwards of 350 grands but then an unnamed Chinese buyer splurged three times the money to buy Armando.

Armando is Joël Verschoot's top runner and an Olympiad winner from Belgium. After the sale, Belgian news agency, Belga, said the Chinese investor was likely to get Armando into breeding more Pigeons and champions.

Do give Dhanush's 2015 movie Maari a watch if you need some convincing on how a Pigeon got sold for a steep Rs 9.99 crores.


#9 Costliest Medical Therapy at $2.1 million


A bottle of Novartis's costliest therapy.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis in May'19 announced getting US-FDA approvals for Zolgensma, a drug that treats fatal genetic diseases including spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The treatment targets a defective gene that weakens a child's muscles so dramatically that they become unable to move, and eventually unable to swallow or breathe.

SMA hits about 400 babies in the U.S. each year. Approximately 70 million Indians live with some form of rare genetic disease like SMA.

Novartis' therapy is a one-time infusion that takes approximately an hour. Money-wise, it costs $2.125 million. A week prior to Christmas, Novartis said that it was giving away at least hundred doses of its costliest therapy for free.


#8 Perfume: $1.29 million


Courtesy Shumukh, The Spirit of Dubai

Shumukh promises to give its users the aroma of dollars, the fragrance of Dinars, and a rich-feeling no perfume can even remotely come closer to.

The perfume shattered quite a records within its launch during March'19. It holds Guinness World Records for "Most diamonds set on a perfume bottle" and "Tallest remote controlled fragrance spray product." This is also the most expensive cologne at $1.29 million.

Price for the Shumukh easily pips the Clive Christian 1 that cost $2,150 per ounce in 2006. FYI, the Clive Christian No.1 Collection (2005) carried a price tag of $205,000 for a 500ml bottle.

Perfumer Asghar Adam Ali had been researching on that perfect aroma since 1969. He too approximately 500 trials before getting to Shumukh. But its not just the aroma that costs a bomb. A bottle displayed at by Shumukh is embellished by a whopping 3,571 diamonds, 2.5 kilograms of 18-carat gold and nearly six kilograms of pure silver. There's blue topaz and black diamonds too.


#7 That bottle of Whisky at $1.9 million


A Sotheby's image of the Costliest Whisky

Whisky lovers should note that 2019 saw the sale of a 60 year old single-malt for a record 1.45 million pounds or $1.9 million. Sotheby's, the auction house calls the 1926 Macallan cask number 263 as the "holy grail" of whisky.

"Distilled over 90 years ago and aged in European Oak for 60 years, this is one of only 40 bottles that Macallan has confirmed were produced from Cask 263 in 1986," said the agency.

For comparison, luxury Whisky Isabella's Islay, priced upwards of $6.2 millions came with a bottle that featured 8,500 diamonds, 300 rubies on a white gold element.


#6 Most expensive Christmas Tree: $15 million


The most expensive Christmas Tree

Haute Couture Designer Debbie Wingham's latest creation in December was this christmas tree that media reports estimated at upwards of $15 million.

Unveiled on Nov'30, the creation involved a gorgeous tree decorated with 3 carat pink diamonds, 4 carat sapphire, oval red diamonds, black and white diamonds, not to mention remastered and upcycled jewelerry from high fashion brands like Bvlgari, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Chanel.

Apart from Art Deco-inspired decorations like martini glasses, perfume bottles and 3D-printed chocolate peacocks, lighting and baubles, every tree branch was adorned with diamonds of varying shapes and sizes and sapphires.

Wingham posted a video of that tree with a caption: "I call it 1.3 mill as it has 1.1 million dollar bills which are 24 carat gold bills then the diamond is a 200k job, the case is glass, the chain that hangs the ornament is 24 carat gold too, its quite a popular one, many people asking about it!"


#5 Most expensive car: 16.7 million Euros


The La voiture Noire in French translates to The Black Car. Also Read: Fastest, Costliest, Vintage, Trending, Electric & Eclectic cars of 2019 that made noise

The most expensive new car ever sold is a one-off Bugatti luxury sports car that went for 16.7 million euros ($18.9 million) or Rs 130.9 crores (inclusive of taxes, registration etc).

Bugatti claims they made only one such car and sold it to an aficionado.


#4 Shoes: $20 million


A twitter image of how the world's costliest shoes looked like.

This pair of shoes came at a cost of nearly $20 million (19.9 precisely) or Rs 142 crores were unveiled at a launch in Dubai Marina in October. We are not sure if someone ever got to wear it, but there was definite buzz. Social media was curious on the number of diamonds, Gold and silver that went into making that style-statement.

The Moon Star Shoes features 30 carats of diamonds and even a small piece of a meteorite discovered in Argentina in 1576.

The year also featured a pair of 1972 Nike Moon Shoes sold at a Sotheby's auction for a whopping $437,000 or Rs 3.1 crores. This transaction broke the record for most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction.


#3 Watch: Patek Phillipe, $31 million dollars


Christie's steel Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A-010

At $31 million, the Patek Philippe, cost almost double of Rolex Daytona (2017 costliest watch) at $17.7 million.

The Christies site lists the Patek as "The one and only Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime made in stainless steel". The Patek watch was auctioned as part of the Only Watch auction in Geneva by Christie's to benefit research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


#2 Costliest painting: $110 million


Claude Monet's Meules - Haystacks as available on Wikipedia

In the world of private auctions, not every thing is likely to be reported. But this painting by Claude Monet topped the charts on the costliest painting purchased in 2019.

French impressionist Monet's painting was shown to 6 bidders by Sotheby's in May before it was acquired by an unidentified buyer for a whopping $110.7 million. This surprisingly is also the record price paid for a painting by the impressionist.

The painting named "Meules - Haystacks, 1890, Oil on canvas" is a private Collection and one among 25 rare paintings in a series depicting stacks of harvested wheat belonging to Monet's neighbor in Giverny, France.

SaffronArt's 2019 auction made Rs 54.2 crores in September. VS Gaitonde's untitled 1982 work fetched a whopping Rs 26.9 crores, making it one of the top five highest value works ever sold by an Indian artist.


#1 The #35 billion Divorce


File picture of Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos.

Could a divorce crown someone as the world's richest woman? Unusual, unless the partner is world's richest man and e-commerce mogul Jeff Bezos.

Earlier in January, Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos announced a divorce after 25 years of marriage following the leak of romantic texts between Bezos and American news anchor Lauren Sanchez.

The 48 year old MacKenzie was reportedly left with four percent of the company share, but a stake that translated into nearly $36 billion during the settlement.

2019 certainly didn't look like Bezos's year. Bezos lost quite a fortune this year owing to Amazon's valuations on stock markets this year. Then there was the record Divorce.

Bezos still retains the crown of the richest man, although Microsoft Founder Bill Gates briefly surpassed him in October.


There's three more things that caught our attention this year. Here are those 3 quick additions to our top-20 list.

A maha-pilgrimage spot that cost upwards of Rs 4,200 crores


Courtesy Sify News

The Uttar Pradesh government reportedly allocated Rs 4,200 crore for the Kumbh Mela being held in the 'sangam' city of Allahabad, which is over thrice the budget of the Maha Kumbh in 2013, making the mega pilgrimage perhaps the costliest ever.

This year's Kumbh Mela is spread over an area of 3,200 hectare as compared to 1,600 hectare area in the previous melas. The Kumbh Mela is anchored in Hindu mythology. It is the largest public gathering and collective act of faith anywhere in the world.


World's Costliest Battlefield:


Courtesy Sify News

Siachen is certainly India's and the World's biggest battlefield, costing an approximate Rs 3,000 crores every year to maintain for the Indian army.

At a height of 18,000 feet, this is the world's highest battlefield and a vantage point for India.

Do read how India's bravest serve to keep Indians safe.


The multi-crore General elections


Courtesy Sify News

A staggering Rs 55,000-60,000 crore could have been spent on the 2019 Lok Sabha election in India, according to a study by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a not-for-profit multi-disciplinary development research think-tank.

The figure is almost twice the amount estimated by the CMS for the last general polls in 2014 at Rs 30,000 crores.


Fancy buying any of those top-20 items in 2020? Do drop in your thoughts in the comments section.