With Christmas fast approaching, many are in a quandary as to what gifts will suit particular recipients, be they one’s spouse, lover, child or perhaps to outdo some others in the echelons of prosperity or merely a show of generosity with or without any expectations of grand reward.

I dare say that one of our least admirable characteristics is to be overcome with a twinge of jealousy which could however be forgiven when one reads of the extreme wealth lavished on those mentioned below `

A Washington newspaper scion gave the famous 45.52 carat “Hope Diamond”, also known as the “king of jewels” to his wife in 1911, paying $1 million for this treasure.
Today is it housed in the Natural Museum in Washington DC and worth in excess of $250 million.

France, in honour of the work of Abraham Lincoln, due to the alliance of the French and the Americans during the American revolution and commemorating the perseverance of freedom and democracy, donated the statue of Liberty to the USA.

In 1917 a New York banker traded his $1 million Manhattan apartment for a Cartier pearl necklace which he presented to his young wife.
Years later the scenario changed dramatically when the Japanese Mikimotos cultured pearl industry flourished, resulting in the price of pearls to come crashing down and the necklace was sold for a mere $150.000. Ultimately the bankers barter was one of histories most unfortunate.

In 1949 the last Maharaja of the Sikh empire presented Queen Victoria with an 186 carat diamond, the largest ever known. Her consort Prince Albert observing it as rather colourless had it reduced to 105 carats which today sits in the crown of the late Queen mother and is under guard in the tower of London.

In terms of building and human costs, the Taj Mahal constructed by Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his wife is an incredible mausoleum of white marble and one of the most admired memorials ever built. Involving 20,000 labourers and 1000 elephants to transport material, it is the jewel of Muslim art in India.

Competing with the Sultan of Brunei and Aristotle, Onassis Richard Burton lost out at an auction bidding for a 68 carat diamond. Gripped with remorse the next day he bought the stone from the winner Cartier, paying $I million in order to hand this to his wife Elizabeth Taylor. She later sold this gift and donated the proceeds to fund the construction of a hospital in Botswana.

The most expensive item sold at an art auction ever, a bronze sculpture, “Walker man 1” was given to the girlfriend of the one of the world’s richest men; the Russian Oligarch Roman Abromavich as a token of his love for her.

Some might consider this opulence as quite vulgar, but sentiment plays no role when lust for the luxurious exists on the part of the recipient or due to the generosity of the giver.
Finally the old saying “Tis better to give than to receive” can be viewed in a completely different light !

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