Service of a $200,000 Watch and Nowhere to Go

March 25th, 2021

Categories: Art, Automobiles, Charity, Jewelry, Luxury, Pandemic

Excess at a time when so many citizens suffer strikes a wrong note.

The pandemic opened eyes to hunger and financial distress in this country exacerbated by furloughs and firings. Sigal Samuel on wrote: “56 percent of US households gave to charity or volunteered in response to the pandemic, and the first half of 2020 saw a 12.6 percent increase in the number of new donors to charity compared to one year ago.”

Nevertheless spending on luxuries goes on more than usual. The capitalist in me says “That’s good–people are employed and businesses thrive” followed by a but….

A few days after I heard about a bride from a hardworking middle class family paying $6,000 for a wedding dress I saw Jacob Bernstein’s New York Times article “Here’s How Bored Rich People Are Spending Their Extra Cash.” I wondered if for every luxury buy the purchasers sent an equivalent amount to a charity. I did a hasty Google search to find articles about individual charitable donations in the $200,000 to $6 million range equal to some of the items identified below. I didn’t find any– which doesn’t mean none were given.

About the $6,000 wedding dress, a contemporary of mine said that the price tag is expected and only a starting point, though other friends knew of brides who looked heavenly and recently spent in the $1,500 range.

Bernstein reported that big spenders once called themselves collectors but now refer to themselves as investors. He wrote: “Rather than elbowing past each other for reservations at the latest restaurants from Marcus Samuelsson and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, or getting into bidding wars for apartments at 740 Park Avenue, they are one-upping each other in online auctions for jewelry, watches, furniture, sports cards, vintage cars, limited-edition Nikes and crypto art.”

Retailers are sensitive to the situation. Some wouldn’t speak with him on the record about sales. One admitted almost selling out $90,000 earrings. A Patek Philippe sports watch that retails at $85,000 “can seldom be found on 47th Street for much less than $200,000.” [47th Street is the jewelry district in Manhattan.] An expert told Bernstein that demand for these watches remained as Switzerland closed down due to the pandemic. He said that the money spent on travel is directed to collectibles–uh, investments.

Bernstein reported a 1973 Porsche sold for $1.2 million last year when before the pandemic the same make and model sold for $560,000.

“In February, a digital artwork of Donald Trump facedown in the grass, covered in words like ‘loser,’ sold for $6.6 million, a record for a nonfungible token, or NFT, so called because there’s no physical piece for the buyer to take possession of.”

You get the gist. Bernstein shares many more examples.

Have you heard of record-breaking charitable donations during the pandemic?  As for collectors of pricey items calling themselves investors: Does paying outrageous prices during extraordinary circumstances sound like the makings of a very good investment to you? But what do I know? I think paying $6,000 for a wedding dress is over the top. And you?

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4 Responses to “Service of a $200,000 Watch and Nowhere to Go”

  1. ASK Said:

    What I really want to know is who is paying up to $50,000 per table for a “virtual” gala? Gives new meaning to the expression, “All dressed up with no place to go…”

  2. Lucrezia Said:

    While shameful spending in the face of people starving is viewed as insensitive, and rightly so, it is also wrong to sit in judgement of others. Someone wants to buy a costly wedding dress? That’s their business. Want to hang on to your privacy? Then respect that of others, $6,000.00 dresses included!

    It’s time to concern oneself over the misery of others, rather than look in on spending habits of the affluent. It may be done by contributing to organizations which feed the hungry and protect the frail and abused members of the community. As for the bride with a costly dress, it may or may not be the last thing she gets to enjoy for a long time. Who knows? Who cares?

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Used to know a woman who went to many such galas. Years ago she told me that for one charity she supported they received an invitation with the photo of a couple in bathrobe and slippers watching TV. The copy said that they were letting supporters off the hook–the gift of the organization was to give them a vacation from the gala– but would they please donate as they normally did. Sounded like a good idea to me! She was thrilled. Don’t know how well the charity did in the end but it eliminated giant event expenses and hours of work.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t wag a finger at anyone who spends their money, I only hope that they are half as generous in their support of the less fortunate. Americans have always been generous.

    As for the $6,000 dress, I feel sorry for people who feel pressured to waste money this way. It isn’t necessary even today. I remember a work colleague who got married a few months before I did. On her return from her honeymoon she was frantic. She had a horrible time on her honeymoon, she said, worrying about the debt they were in as a result of the wedding. There’s an awful lot of that kind of spending still happening especially wedding-related. Makes me sad. As I wrote in the post, there are fine gowns to be had for a fraction of that amount.

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