Inflation and the threat of a recession has made saving money increasingly difficult. Many economists are predicting a recession will hit in 2023. Though sky high gas prices have started to come down, the prices of homes and everyday goods are rising.
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But even for upper-middle-class Americans and beyond, there are some precious things that just are not generally attainable. Consider the world’s most expensive things — literally. From rare works of art to the most exclusive status symbols, here’s a look at the priciest items money can buy. And while they will certainly cost buyers a fortune up front, some could end up being wise investments.
The Patek Philippe Chronograph Watch
- Price: $31 million
In the world of high-end watches, the Swiss watchmaking company Patek Philippe is considered the gold standard. In November 2019, its chronograph watch — signed by the watchmaker, with moon phases and a “perpetual” calendar — sold at a Christie’s auction. With a final price of $31.19 million, it was the highest amount ever paid for a wristwatch at auction. These watches hold such high value for a few different reasons, including impeccable hand-applied decorations and over 177 years of expertise in this family-owned company. The money went to a good cause, though. The $31.19 million went toward research into a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
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- Price: $4.9 billion
Sure, this Royal Family quarters isn’t on the market, but if it were, it’s estimated to cost almost $7 billion to purchase. Hopefully it’s roomy enough for you with 240 bedrooms. The palace also has 78 bathrooms and a swimming pool.
L’Homme au doigt (Pointing Man)
Price: $141.3 million
This sculpture was created by Alberto Giacometti in 1947. L’Homme au doight is hand painted and 5 feet 10 inches tall. It sold for the whopping $141.3 million in May 2015 to a private collector.
*Pictured Alberto Giacometti in his studio in Montparnasse in Paris.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe
- Price: $142.9 million
The average Mercedes is not cheap, but this brings the meaning of luxury vehicle to a whole new level. There were only two of these vehicles manufactured. This model is from 1955. It sold in Germany at a secret auction in 2022.
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”
- Price: $450 million
This painting was thought to be destroyed, until it was found in 2005. “Salvator Mundi” (Latin for “savior of the world”) sold at Christie’s New York to a private buyer after being restored.
- Price: $15 million+
In the world of music, there are violins and then there are Stradivarius violins. Over 300 years ago, Antonio Stradivari, an Italian luthier, made about 1,100 instruments that some of the world’s greatest violinists still play today. There are, however, only approximately 650 of these original violins left in play.
Though prices vary, it’s not uncommon for these violins to fetch upwards of $15 million to $20 million. Once, a dealer tried to sell a Stradivarius viola for $45 million but ultimately got no buyers.
Fusaichi Pegasus Thoroughbred Horse
- Price: $70 million
If you thought having a pet was expensive, you haven’t heard of Fusaichi Pegasus, the thoroughbred stallion that earned its owners millions of dollars in races such as the Kentucky Derby. Genes like this don’t come cheap. His owner sold him to a stud farm in Ireland for $70 million to hopefully produce foals with the horse’s award-winning DNA.
1945 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Red Wine
- Price: $558,000 for one bottle
In October 2018, Sotheby’s auctioned off a rare bottle of wine from the personal cellar of a renowned winemaker, Robert Drouhin, who heads the Maison Joseph Drouhin winemaking operation. The wine comes from the equally renowned winemaking region of Burgundy, France. This pinot noir is typically aged at least 10 years before drinking and is known for its full-bodied flavor.
Elida Geisha Cup of Coffee
- Price: $75 per cup — or $1,029 per pound
Coffee lovers can be a bit obsessed with their daily cup of joe. But some coffee lovers took that to an extreme in the San Francisco Bay Area in May 2019, when they paid $75 per cup of Elida Geisha coffee, brewed and served by Klatch Coffee. That July, a pound of Geisha from Panama sold for a record-breaking $1,029 per pound. What makes this coffee so special? It seems like it’s one of those things you have to try for yourself to understand.
Cabrales Blue Cheese
- Price: $16,570 for 5.78 pounds
Not everyone enjoys the taste of the pungent French blue cheese. But in 2018, 15 restaurateurs in Spain spent hours bidding on one of the strongest blue cheeses in the world, known as Cabrales. The winning bid, $16,570 (originally 14,300 euros), set the Guinness World Record for most expensive cheese.
Its spectacular price comes from its creation. Cabrales is specially aged for three to six months in natural caves that can’t be reached by car. Shepherds walk over a mile carrying the cheese to the caves, then return weekly to rub it and turn it to help it mature.
Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototypes
- Price: $1.8 million
Kanye West’s Yeezys sold for $1.8 million in 2021. The shoes were also worn by the rapper in 2008 at the Grammys, giving them a little added value that’ll be hard to come by with other pairs of Yeezys.
- Price: $22,000-$125,000
A newer breed of cat, the rare — and seriously big, at 30 pounds — Ashera was developed by Lifestyle Pets in California. A hybrid of the African serval, Asian leopard and domestic house cat, these felines are so exclusive that they’ve been known to sell for as much $125,000, and there are very few of them in the world. This kitty definitely shows its wild cat DNA, with its large ears, leopard spots, tiger stripes and penchant for climbing. These cats are also special because they tend to live longer than average house cats, with an expected life span of 25 years.
- Price: $6.2 million
Though the scotch is probably pretty good, the casing isn’t anything to sneeze at. The bottle is encrusted with more than 8,500 diamonds, and is made of English crystal.
1933 Double Eagle
- Price: $18.9 million
The Double Eagle is the world’s most valuable coin, after selling to a private buyer in 2021 at Sotheby’s. The Double Eagle coin was the last gold currency struck in the United States.
Serena Williams’ Alexander McQueen
- Price: $4.9 million
Serena Williams wore a custom made dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen in her 2017 wedding to Alexis Ohanian. The dress required five pairs of hands and took over 1,500 hours of work to make.
The Inverted Jenny Stamp
- Price: $1,593,000
What makes this stamp so unique? First of all, the stamp features a plane known as the JN-4HM, built in World War 1. It was the first plane used to deliver mail. But what really makes this batch of stamps unique is that due to a printing error, the airplane and the blue background are printed upside down.
This error only occurred on one sheet of 100 stamps, which have mostly been sold off in singles. It’s considered one of the rarest stamps of all time. In 2018, a single stamp sold for $1,593,000 at auction.
NextComputing – The Edge DL
- Price: $54,950
Gamers will be delighted with this AMD EPYC 7702P processor with 64 cores. In addition, the computer offers 256 GB of memory.
- Price: $14,000+
The Samoyed is a rare breed of dogs that comes from Siberia. They are known to be sweet and loving, so you’ll at least get a return on your investment in dog kisses. Unfortunately, they’re prone to health issues like corneal dystrophy, autoimmune conditions, and cardiac disorders.
‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ by Wu-Tang Clan
- Price: $2 million
Wu-Tang Clan only made one copy of this album in 2015. It came with a unique contract that stated the buyer of the album could not sell or profit from the album in any way for 88 years.
Martin Shkreli, the disgraced pharmaceutical executive, purchased the album for $2 million. Fans, who expected him to release the album for free, were left disappointed. Shkreli went prison for securities fraud, and the federal government seized the album along with his other assets. Netflix is planning to release a movie about the dramatic unfolding of events.
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Nicole Spector contributed to the reporting for this article