21 Ultimate Gifts

Overview

Holiday issue featuring a personal Boeing Dreamliner jet, a bespoke pair of Bentleys, Royal Salute's $200,000 scotch whisky, Portugal's rarest vintage ports, the world's greatest garage & more.

From This Issue

FrontRunners: David Yurman

Evan Yurman did not hesitate after receiving a call from a gemstone trader in Thailand last year and learning that a cache of extraordinary blue tourmalines had been uncovered in Africa. Yurman, a designer for his father’s namesake jewelry brand, David Yurman, flew from New York to Thailand the next day and bought the gems […]

FrontRunners: Do Your Bidding

Part of the annual Arizona automobile auction week, the Gooding & Company Scottsdale Auction (www.goodingco.com) will take place January 20 and 21. As of mid-October, highlights of the sale included a rare 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV with a presale estimated value of $1.2 million to $1.4 million and a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing […]

FrontRunners: Ladder Company

No need to tread lightly on the Edward Barnsley Workshop Mark IV library ladder (www.barnsley-furniture.co.uk). It is made from 3,000-year-old bog oak that is strong enough to eliminate the need for steel supporting rods in its steps. Over the last 10 years, craftsman James Ryan has designed just 18 wooden library ladders for Edward Barnsley, […]

FrontRunners: Vine Time

Tsavorites arranged in the form of creepers, blue sapphires shaped like leaves, and pink sapphires representing flowers adorn the 18-karat-white-gold case and band of the $215,000 Charles Oudin Paris Full Amazone Curvex (www.charlesoudin.com). The gemstones are set among pavé diamonds in this timepiece from the Parisian watchmaker whose namesake and founder, an associate of Abraham-Louis […]

FrontRunners: Growth Spurt

This fall—just six months after launching its first boat, a 42-foot weekend cruiser—Wider Yachts introduced plans for the much larger Wider 150 (www.wider-yachts.com). The yacht will draw power from a hybrid propulsion system and will store a 33-foot Wider-built tender in the aft garage. The tender’s parking spot will double as a saltwater swimming pool, […]

FrontRunners: Grander Cherokee

Chrysler has brought its Jeep brand into the high-performance SUV ring with the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 (www.drivesrt.com). On a par with Germany’s best SUVs and priced from $55,300, the SRT8 is distinguished visually from the standard Grand Cherokee by bodywork that appears more aggressive and a stance that is 1 inch lower. More […]

FrontRunners: Positive Spin

Famous for pioneering the small-wheel bicycle, England’s Moulton Bicycle Company has launched a new model that harks back to the firm’s start in the swinging Sixties. The $6,500 stainless-steel Moulton 60 (www.moultonbicycles.co.uk), of which only 191 examples will be produced, features design elements that made the original 1962 Moulton popular with both competitive and recreational […]

FrontRunners: Tree Toppler

You might need a Christmas tree with braces instead of just branches to hang the 13.4-pound, $900 La Maison du Chocolat Mendiant Ornament and Work of Art (www.lamaisonduchocolat.us). The tasty bauble is bigger than a basketball and consists of a dark-chocolate shell decorated with Eiffel Tower–shaped designs and nearly 2,000 perforations and filled with pistachios, […]

FrontRunners: Front Roe

Produced by sustainably farmed Acipenser naccarii sturgeon raised in naturally cold ponds near Granada, Spain, PSN Almas Ara caviar (www.artisanalfoods.com) is as close to organic as caviar comes. (Almas Ara cannot be certified as such because part of its feed comes from wild sardines.) The taste is pure and subtle, combining the minerality of the sea […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Perfection always entails a precarious balancing act, and in the wine industry especially, achieving that harmonious state requires patience. Fortunately for oenophiles, the late Jess Jackson possessed this virtue in ample supply. The Kendall-Jackson founder and his wife, Barbara Banke, spent many years acquiring prized mountain and hillside properties throughout California’s most important wine-producing regions; […]

Robb Design Portfolio: The Rarest Breed

1957 Jaguar XKSS Jaguar racecars of the 1950s remain among that era’s most stirring, valued today for their looks, performance, and rarity. The 1951 C-Type ushered in the decade and was followed by the triumphant D-Type, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three consecutive years and ultimately influenced the development of the legendary […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Gehry’s Game

In Frank Gehry’s world, it is a small landscape: a chunk of real estate approximately 40 square inches topped by 32 structures. But Gehry has always been fascinated by the game of chess, and when the architect turned his attention to redesigning the chessboard, he unleashed his creativity on the project. It is tempting to […]

From the Editors: Dishonors in Scotland

The acceptance of certain gifts sometimes has unexpected consequences. The Scottish monarchy, for instance, received as tribute from the Vatican two treasures—a scepter from Alexander VI and a sword from Julius II—that, together with the crown, form the crown jewels known as the Honours of Scotland, the inspiration for one of this year’s Ultimate Gifts […]

Jewelry: Out of the Vault

In the insular world of high jewelry, a handful of international players trade the rarest and most exceptional stones, moving them from one country to another until the gems find the right buyer. Among industry insiders trading in these six- and seven-figure jewels, everyone knows Glenn Spiro, the London dealer who has vaults of extraordinary […]

Aviation: Preboarding Pass

The newest and largest Learjet, the 85, promises to be the fastest and most spacious aircraft in the midsize class, and the quickest way to acquire one—or rather, a part of one—is to purchase a share from fractional provider Flexjet (owned, like the Learjet brand, by Bombardier). Flexjet is first in line for an 85, […]

Spirits: Still Thirsty

Of the six elements, or “pillars,” that define the character of the Macallan’s single-malt whisky, the unusually small stills used in the distillation process are perhaps the most noteworthy. According to David Cox, the brand’s director of fine and rare whiskies, these copper vessels—the smallest of their kind in Scotland’s Speyside region—lend the Macallan its […]

Sport: Automatic First Down

Staring down a snow-choked chute that has never been skied, I take a shallow breath and shift my eyes to the horizon. All around me, craggy Canadian Rocky peaks pierce the cloudless sky; in the distance, British Columbia’s Kinbasket River slithers through the valley. Looking down again at the untouched powder below, I see my […]

Collectibles: Heart of Hearths

Interior designer David Phoenix calls fireplace accessories the jewelry of the fireplace. Evidently he is not alone in esteeming grates, pokers, tongs, and andirons—the racks that lift firewood off the floor to help oxygen circulate and feed the flames. Choice examples of these items, andirons in particular, can command five- and six-figure prices at auction. […]

Antiques: Beating the Drum for Phyfe

Most American-furniture dealers would love to be saddled with Carswell Berlin’s dilemma. The president of the Carswell Rush Berlin gallery in New York has a bed, a card table, and other furnishings attributed to Duncan Phyfe, the illustrious 19th-century American furniture maker. The problem for Berlin is figuring out how to display all of the […]

Home: Baths Beyond

For more than half a century, Bisazza has treated walls and floors as blank canvases, using its colorful mosaic tiles to transform everyday spaces into opulent and avant-garde exhibits. The Italian company has broadened the application of mosaics beyond the kitchen and bath, breathing new life into virtually every part of the home with combinations […]

Wardrobe: Spurr of the Moment

For most of his career, Simon Spurr has been the name behind some very big names. In 1997 he began designing a clothing line for Yves Saint Laurent, under the close guidance of Hedi Slimane. Four years later, Spurr took a similar role at cK Calvin Klein, and then at Ralph Lauren, where he headed […]

Wine: Noble Pursuit

One may be forgiven for assuming that Quilceda Creek is a new player among the world’s elite producers of Cabernet Sauvignon, given that Washington state has seen the establishment of more than 530 new wineries and the designation of seven new American Viticultural Areas in the last 10 years alone. Yet its owners, father-and-son winemaking […]

Watches: Silent Partners

Steven Grotell knows the value of keeping a low profile. In the two decades since the architect-turned-watch-designer began working in the business, he has learned the extent to which his clients, including some of the larger luxury houses, desire to keep the collaboration of specialists such as himself a trade secret. He is also aware […]

Vacation Homes: Lying Low

On the world circuit of celebrity haunts, Malibu is an anomaly. Where one goes to Aspen or St. Barts to see and be seen, one retreats to Malibu to blend in. Such is the concept behind the Southern California beach city’s latest luxury community. “Our goal is to frame the ocean and not mess up […]

Autos: One Cool Cat

If one of the rarest and most desirable supercars of the past were updated to offer modern levels of speed, handling, and comfort, the resulting vehicle ought to be fantastic. The Jaguar E-Type Low Drag GT by Eagle, the first of which is presently being built, might be such a machine. The Low Drag GT […]

Crown

Every neighborhood in New York has its inimitable flavor, as John DeLucie learned growing up in Brooklyn. Places—buildings and their surroundings—have influenced the restaurateur’s cuisine since 2006, when he and a group of partners reopened the Waverley Inn in the West Village. DeLucie put his personal spin on the American classics that, beginning in the […]

Five Hotel & Spa

Opened in June just a block from Cannes’ shorefront Promenade de la Croisette, Five Hotel & Spa is fast becoming a tastemaker on the French Riviera. The hotel’s popularity owes much to Jacques and Laurent Pourcel—the twin-brother chefs behind the Michelin two-star Jardins des Sens in Montpellier—whose Sea Sens restaurant is attracting early raves for its […]

Puma Lodge by Noi Hotels

Heli-skiers are a hardy breed. Often traveling without their significant others, they require little more than a single room, a comfortable bed, hot meals, and endless expanses of untracked powder—all of which they will find at Chile’s new Puma Lodge. Located two and a half hours by car (or 30 minutes by helicopter) from Santiago, […]

The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows

Photographs hanging in Presidential Bungalow No. 24 show a T-shaped building abutting acres of Southern California farmland. The images were taken around the time the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows opened in 1912, two years before Beverly Hills was established as a city. Over the decades, as stately residences filled in around its 12-acre site, […]

The Robb Reader: Gordon Getty

As the son of oil magnate Jean Paul Getty, Gordon Getty might easily have allowed circumstances to dictate his direction in life. Yet he spent much of his youth exploring his own interests, which include fine wine and classical music. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and, even after […]

Home Entertainment: Top of the Glass

Most people in the market for a new television balk at the idea of 3-D technology. But while it might seem superfluous, 3-D technology is an essential part of today’s best televisions. The third dimension is not intended for all video content—little would be gained by watching the nightly news in eye-popping 3-D—but it is […]

Collectibles: Comics Relief

A large number of the 6,000 or so comic-book fans who attended the 2011 Boston Comic Con in April suited up for the event. Superman, Batman, Robin, Catwoman, and Captain America all were well represented in the crowd that had come to the city’s Hynes Convention Center to meet their favorite artists, buy new and […]

Leisure: Spanish Treasure

“You always remember your first time eating baby eels,” chef Fernando Canales tells me as we hurtle down twisting country roads to the Basque coastal village of Gorliz. It is five in the morning and neither of us has had a drop of coffee, but Canales is pumped. “It is like the first time you […]

Wheels: Jaguar’s Wilder Side

Seldom does the brand name Jaguar evoke a car suited for unbridled extroverts, a vehicle that is the shameless, attention-seeking life of the automotive party. Yet the designers of the XKR-S obviously intended for this Jaguarto be noticed—not just by drivers seeking a harder-edged GT experience, but by virtually anyone whose path the new cat […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Smoke on the Water

The GIFT An all-inclusive five-day, four-night fishing trip for 30 guests to King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia, hosted by chef Michael Mina. Nightly tasting menus created by Mina and his executive chefs, David Varley and Adam Sobel. One night at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver, including a kick-off party hosted by chef David […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Sol of Malibu

The GIFT A 57-acre hillside homesite in the private MariSol residential community in Malibu, Calif. A 10,000-square-foot modern residence designed by Santa Barbara–based architect Barry Berkus. A vineyard, a tennis court, an infinity-edge pool and hot tub, two ponds, three miles of private hiking trails, and a restored 1930s caretaker’s residence. $30 million Before megamoguls, […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Ultra Violet

The GIFT A trio of exceptionally rare violet porcelain Sèvres vases. $1.5 million In the early 18th century—after hundreds of years of pleading, industrial espionage, and furious alchemy—Europeans finally figured out how to produce china outside of China. Artisans in Meissen, a Saxon town that is now part of Germany, hit upon a sound recipe […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Kidd’s Play

The GIFT A private golf tournament for as many as 70 guests at Laucala Island in Fiji, hosted by course designer David McLay Kidd. Exclusive rental of the island for five nights and six days, all-inclusive.  An Air Partner round-trip all-business-class charter flight from Los Angeles to Fiji. A custom nine-hole golf course designed by […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: A Horse Breeder Apart

The GIFT A visit to Ignacio Figueras’ horse farm in Argentina, where the renowned polo player and horse breeder will help the recipient select a polo pony from the farm’s stable. A private polo lesson from Figueras. Head-to-toe polo clothing and equipment: a bespoke Asprey leather saddle, a pair of custom-made Casa Fagliano boots, and […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: The Golden Ticket

The GIFT “VVIP” seating for four to every event during the London 2012 Olympic Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies. All-expenses-paid travel for four via first-class cabin from New York to London.  Accommodation in the two-bedroom Berkeley Suite at the Ritz London for 18 nights, including afternoon tea, daily in-suite breakfast, butler services, and […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Snake Charmer

The GIFT A one-of-a-kind circa-1900 gold-and-quartz Fabergé snakehead cane handle. $950,000 From 1885, when Tsar Alexander III appointed Peter Carl Fabergé the jeweler and goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court, until 1918, when the Bolsheviks confiscated his company’s inventory, the House of Fabergé created as many as 250,000 pieces in gold, silver, malachite, jade, lapis […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: House Music

The GIFT A custom whole-home Steinway Lyngdorf audio setup. The world’s first suspended Steinway Lyngdorf Model LS speakers. A bespoke Steinway & Sons Art Case Model D Concert Grand Piano. Project supervision and final inspection performed by Peter Lyngdorf. Starting at about $1.6 million The Danish audio virtuoso behind Steinway Lyngdorf—whose Model D and Model […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Primo Ports

The GIFT A four-day visit for three couples to Oporto, Portugal, hosted by the Fladgate Partnership.  A dinner featuring Taylor Fladgate vintage ports from 1924, 1928, 1935, 1963, 1977, and 1994; Vargellas Vinha Velha 2000 single quinta; and Taylor Fladgate Scion 155-year-old tawny. A bottle of each of the above vintages and two bottles of […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Scent to Treasure

The Gift An Art Deco–style perfume pendant necklace by Cartier, featuring a hand-carved morganite bottle adorned with spinels, diamonds, and platinum details. A custom perfume created by Cartier’s fragrance master, Mathilde Laurent. A weekend in Paris, including first-class airfare for two, luxury accommodations for three nights, and a tour of Cartier’s high-jewelry workshop. $475,000 It […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Sea of Dreams

The GIFT A one-of-a-kind megayacht designed by famed naval architect Philippe Briand. Starting at about $45 million One cannot put a price on one’s dreams—which is why yacht designer Philippe Briand is reluctant to cite one for the boat he will conceive for the recipient of this gift. “We love all of our designs,” he […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: For Love of Honour

The GIFT One of 21 numbered Royal Salute Tribute to Honour decanters encrusted with gold, silver, and diamonds. A matching pair of goblets in silver, gold, and diamonds, made exclusively for the recipient of this gift. Round-trip private jet transportation for two from the United States to the United Kingdom. A personal tour of Edinburgh […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Harlequin Romance

The GIFT A set of five one-of-a-kind David Oscarson Harlequin pens, embellished with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. $1.5 million It took only 11 years for David Oscarson to reach the upper echelon of fine pen making, a level that has been dominated for centuries by European brands such as Montblanc and Graf von Faber-Castell. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: The Finest Threads

The GIFT An unprecedented opportunity to select cloth from the 165-year archives of the Lanificio Carlo Barbera mill outside Milan, Italy, as well as create a signature bolt of cloth with the master weavers. A full bespoke wardrobe by Kiton, including seven suits, two topcoats, two outerwear jackets, 14 dress shirts with complementary neckties, seven […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Delicious Science

The GIFT A custom kitchen designed by Nathan Myhrvold, author of Modernist Cuisine, with cutting-edge equipment including combi steam ovens, sous-vide water baths, and a liquid-nitrogen ice-cream maker. A pantry stocked with ingredients for modernist dishes, from hydrocolloids to rare spices, as well as contacts for top purveyors of caviar, truffles, and other luxury foods. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Wheels and Water

The GIFT A 6,000-square-foot garage designed by Guy Dreier that can accommodate as many as seven automobiles. A wine room, a humidor, a home theater, driving simulators, a bar, and a hydraulic automobile lift within the garage structure. A furnished rooftop terrace with a reflecting pool and a display platform for one showcase automobile. $7 […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Keys to the Castle

The GIFT The famed Sol de Oriente estate at Mexico’s Costa Careyes resort. $18 million In 1968, Italian real estate developer Gian Franco Brignone fell in love with the lush jungles, vast sandy beaches, and agreeable year-round climate of Mexico’s Costa Alegre. After a single visit to the region—a nearly 175-mile stretch between Puerto Vallarta […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Swimming with the Sharks

The GIFT A one-of-a-kind backyard aquatic complex featuring a 30-foot-by-60-foot freshwater swimming pool and adjoining 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium to house the recipient’s choice of marine life. Starting at $11 million For Martin Schapira, watching a school of tropical blue tangs rhythmically scuttling through the ocean’s currents is like listening to a perfectly executed concerto. “It […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Travel Chime

The GIFT A one-of-a-kind version of Louis Vuitton’s new Tambour Minute Repeater. A three-night stay in Switzerland for two people, with accommodations in Geneva and La Chaux-de-Fonds. An exclusive tour of Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds and a visit to the company’s newest complication specialty shop in Geneva, La Fabrique du Temps. A […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Flying the Dream

The GIFT A Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” VIP jumbo jet with a custom interior design and exterior paint scheme. Starting at about $260 million Edése Doret and his associates have created some three dozen jet interiors over the past 15 years, but the New York–based designer is best known for his work on the world’s largest […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Breezing Along

The GIFT A 1927 Bentley 6½ Litre Vanden Plas Sports Tourer. A made-to-order 2012 Bentley Continental GTC convertible. An exclusive visit to the Bentley factory in Crewe, England, followed by a one-night stay at the Lanesborough hotel in London. $3.36 million In the spirit of Bentley’s top-down motoring tradition, this gift promises a Robb Report […]

Ole Miss

Photography by Chipper Hatter In Jackson, Miss., where plantation-style homes with porch swings are the norm, a 27,000-square-foot Tuscan-inspired estate might seem out of place. “Most of the homes in this private development are typical Southern plantations,” says Louisiana-based architect Kevin Harris. “However, this site is tucked away on 160 acres, with rolling green hills […]

Burning Bright

Photography by Cordero Studios Celebrations and cigars have always gone hand in hand, and never more than during the winter holidays. In Victorian England, it was customary to hand out Havanas on December 25, while in America, decorated Yuletide cigar boxes were all the rage as early as the 1860s. This year the tradition continues […]

About Face

At one time, the most impressive feature of nearly every coveted timepiece was the decorative art it showcased. During the 17th and 18th centuries, in the period of Geneva’s “Fabrique” watchmaking collective, the work of a talented enamelist—someone who creates miniature paintings in enamel—added far more value to a timepiece than did any of the […]