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Website of the Week: Conspicuous wealth never goes out of fashion


Listening to everyone bang on about cost-cutting, home foreclosures and delayed retirements must be mighty wearying for the über rich. Fortunately, those who have more money than they know what to do with can leave the bear-with-a-toothache investment market alone for a while and indulge in several innovative new spending options.

You Look Like a Million Dollars, a new service from London sculptors Wrightson & Platt, creates commissioned portraits that leave everyone in no doubt as to the stature and wealth of the commissioning subject.

This image (right), from the You Look Like a Million Dollars homepage, contains more than an echo of Pharaoh. The site describes it thus:

This sculpture of Ben, aged 9, is the first of its kind in the world. His striking portrait is reminiscent of the treasures of ancient Egypt, yet newborn of the 21st century – he’s had the Million Dollar treatment. The embellished portrait is most certainly of the moment, but also deeply personal – a freeze-frame moment in a young boy’s life, an enduring reminder of his impish nature as he ventures out to play one autumn day, iPod forever in tow.

(“Impish” can be passed off as copywriter exuberance, but “autumn”?)

According to reports, pricing begins at the £50,000 (iPod battery not included).

The sculptures are in the same vein as cufflinks modelled on photographs of a child, a loved one, a pet or a famous role model, albeit on a far grander (and pricier) scale.

Of course, being rich is not all about stuff you can touch. Social media is all the rage these days and, in fine plutocratic tradition, the super rich have their own exclusive online social networks.

Some are strictly invite only. However, the latest upwardly mobile social network on the block, Affluence, allows you to register free of charge – provided you can prove that you have a minimum annual household income of US$300,000 or a minimum household net worth of US$3 million or if five people who qualify vouch for your affluence.

Once past the virtual bouncers, you’ll have access to all the bells and whistles to which you are entitled: invites to the most exclusive parties, events, nightclubs, hotels and restaurants around the globe; the ability to network with other important (wealthy) people, access to a dedicated Affluence Concierge, and countless other ways to spend your money.

Members are also entitled to a portion of some of the many public-sector bailouts being offered by governments around the world.

Those who don’t qualify are still permitted to advertise to those who do, on the site and in the network’s own print magazine.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some money to make.