21 Ultimate Gifts


Holiday issue: $2.25 million Lamborghini racecar and road rally, rare championship 1962 Shelby Cobra, first ever bespoke Fabergé egg pendant, a pristine pair of brand-new Gulfstream jets, a year's supply of the world's finest caviar & more.

From This Issue

Watches: Concrete Ideas

While not everyone appreciates Le Corbusier’s brand of modernism (the architect once advocated razing the center of Paris to build high-rises), few could find fault with the watches Girard-Perregaux has produced in his honor. “Basically we were motivated by Le Corbusier’s connection to La Chaux-de-Fonds,” says Michele Sofisti, CEO of Sowind Group, Girard-Perregaux’s parent company. […]

Wardrobe: Top Gear

For nearly a century, Belstaff has been synonymous with the open road. The company, founded in 1924 in Staffordshire, England, is best known as the maker of stylish waxed-cotton motorcycle jackets built to withstand the elements. Classic jackets such as the Roadmaster and the Trialmaster were favorites of sartorial icons from actor Steve McQueen to […]

Wine: A Higher Standard

In 1980, Joyce and Jerry Cain encountered destiny at the terminus of a dead-end road. Like many others who had become enamored with the Napa Valley in the wake of the touted 1976 Paris blind tasting, the couple had been searching for a vineyard property; unlike most, however, the Cains gravitated not to the fertile […]

Spirits: A Taste of Freedom

In 1962, Owen Tulloch, then master blender of Appleton Estate, one of Jamaica’s most prominent distillers, added a few barrels of rare column-and-pot-distilled rums to the already exceptional rum-filled, ex-bourbon casks he had begun aging seven years earlier. These additions brought to 24 the total number of barrels that Tulloch designated for possible use a […]

Spas: Massages Plus

“Can i take a picture of your iris?” naturopath Louise Westra asked as I arrived at her office at the Gleneagles resort in Perthshire, Scotland. It was not the first question I expected to hear at a spa, but I obliged, fitting my face into a contraption that held my head still and my eyes […]

Motorcycles: The Real Deal

Early factory-prepared BMW race bikes are seldom offered on the market. Most are in the company’s museum in Munich. What usually passes for a factory mount is a close replica assembled from a few contemporary parts and mostly later-era components. The star of the upcoming Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale is not a replica. BMW […]

Home Electronics: Sound Waves

A person who spends a reported $1.2 billion to build the world’s largest yacht is not likely to settle for second best. Eclipse—a Blohm & Voss boat that was delivered in 2010 and is still, at 533 feet, the largest yacht—was commissioned by a well-known but reserved Russian who also happens to be an audio […]

Collectibles: Mane Attraction

A dollar is not worth what it once was, especially if it is a particular Flowing Hair silver dollar from 1794. That coin should sell for at least $5 million during the annual Stack’s Bowers Americana auction January 22 through 24 in New York City. The name references the lush locks of the woman rendered […]

Boating: Pace and Space

Two years ago, Finland’s Nautor’s Swan replaced its venerable fiberglass-hulled Swan 82 sailing yacht with the carbon-fiber-hulled Swan 80FD, a lighter 80-foot vessel with a flush deck—thus the FD designation. Now for sailors seeking a yacht with a greater emphasis on comfort, Nautor’s Swan has added the 80S to its Maxi collection of high-performance sailing […]

Autos: Infiniti Carpool

Infiniti recognized early on that tastes in domestic transport were evolving beyond the Chevy Suburbans and Dodge Caravans that once filled soccer-field parking lots on Saturday mornings. A decade ago, well before BMW began developing the X6, Infiniti brought a radical shift in style and performance to the family-vehicle market when it introduced the FX, […]

Jewelry: Hunting Pink

For decades, the Argyle mine in northwestern Australia has been the world’s main source for pink diamonds. Not that its production was exactly huge: Only 50 carats of top-grade pink stones emerge from this lonely corner of the country each year—a number that still accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s pink diamonds. […]

Ett Hem

After studying hotel management in Switzerland, Jeanette Mix returned to her hometown of Stockholm, Sweden, intent on opening a boutique hotel. In 2007, she and her husband acquired an early-20th-century mansion in the residential neighborhood of Östermalm and—with the help of London-based interior designer Ilse Crawford of Studioilse—transformed it into a 12-room retreat brimming with […]

Hotel Monteverdi

With the opening of his Hotel Monteverdi, Michael Cioffi is something of a minority stakeholder in the town of Castiglioncello del Trinoro. The American attorney and developer, who in 2010 completed renovations of three villas in Castiglioncello, now owns one-quarter of the property in the village, whose population tops out at 20 in the winter […]

FrontRunners: Moto Guzzi

For the new model year, Moto Guzzi has tinkered with its V7 lineup of retro-style road bikes, revamping or revising each of the three models. The 2013 Moto Guzzi V7 Racer (www.motoguzzi.com) is an improved version of the bike that arrived in the United States in 2011 as a special sport edition of the V7 […]

FrontRunners: Roadster Rocket

With a top speed of 255 mph, the 2013 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse (www.bugatti.com) earns the title of the world’s fastest roadster. Consider it Bugatti’s gift to drivers seeking a convertible that can keep up with the marque’s top coupe, the 1,200 hp Super Sport. The $2.5 million Vitesse is powered by a […]

FrontRunners: Speed of Sound

Proving worthy of the carmaker’s name, the Ferrari by Logic3 (www.ferrari-by-logic3.com) collection of headphones, earbuds, and speaker docks delivers high-quality audio reproduction. The $199 Caval­lino T150 earbuds offer potent bass responses down to 20 Hz. The Ferrari line also includes the $299 Cavallino T250 over-ear headphones and the $750 Cavallino GT1 Air music dock. The […]

FrontRunners: Screen Capture

The sophomore release by up-and-coming British goldsmith Jack Row, the Jaali Collection (www.jackrow.com) features writing instruments and cuff links styled after the latticed-stone window coverings of Moghul-dynasty palaces in India. Row debuted as a pen maker last year with the Architect Collection, a series of writing instruments whose design evokes a modern skyscraper. The Jaali […]

FrontRunners: Ice Queen

The ladies’ Chopard Imperiale Tourbillon Full Set (www.chopard.com) showcases the Swiss brand’s jewelling and watchmaking specialties. The movement, a version of Chopard’s L.U.C. tourbillon calibers, is regulated to certified-chronometer precision and meets the company’s highest finishing standards. The case is decorated with graduated channel-set baguette diamonds, and the center dial features pavé diamonds of different […]

FrontRunners: Watch and See

The German-made Buben & Zörweg Grand Collector Inbuilt (www.buben-zorweg.com) watch cabinet is equipped with an array of locks and other security devices, but it also employs an unusual deterrent to pilferage: invisibility. The door is a two-way mirror that conceals the cabinet’s contents. Collectors can display their watches by turning on the cabinet’s remotely controlled […]

FrontRunners: Pod Power

The 55-foot Azimut 55S (www.azimutyachts.com) is the first boat in the Azimut Benetti Group’s S series of sport cruisers to employ Volvo’s triple IPS pod-drive propulsion system. The system is light and small, allowing for roomier interiors; the 55S’s three-cabin layout sleeps as many as six people. At the boat’s stern, a carbon-fiber garage door […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

Water, barley, and yeast are not especially valuable ingredients; but, when combined at the Bowmore distillery, they can be transformed into something extraordinary. Such a miraculous metamorphosis took place in 1964, the year that the Islay distillery put into casks the handcrafted spirit that makes up the Trilogy, a sought-after limited edition that included three […]

FrontRunners: Off the Block

The Greenwich, Conn., shop Simon Teakle Fine Jewelry (www.simonteakle.com) has opened with an impressive selection of antique pieces, including the Chaumet sapphire-and-diamond earrings shown here. The shop carries just one contemporary line: James de Givenchy for Taffin, which has never before been sold outside Givenchy’s salon in New York City. Prior to opening the shop, […]

FrontRunners: Back Flip

This year is the 140th anniversary of the founding of the S.T. Dupont brand. It is also the 140th anniversary of the fire that destroyed Simon Tissot Dupont’s carriage company and prompted him to diversify into manufacturing luxury goods. To celebrate the former event, the company has released the 1872 Special Edition Ligne 2 (www.st-dupont-usa.com), […]

Super Subdued

The F12 descriptor, chosen by Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo, references the brand’s Formula 1 racing heritage and the car’s cylinder count; berlinetta is Italian for “little saloon.” As of mid-October, Ferrari had not announced a price for the F12 Berlinetta, but estimates ranged from $300,000 to more than $350,000. U.S. deliveries are expected to […]

Pulse-Quickening Timepieces

“When Senior was alive, you would never have been allowed to see this room,” says Nakis Karapatis, standing at the door of Montres Breguet’s research and development department, which he heads. “Now we can begin showing off some of the things we have been working on.” Karapatis refers to Nicolas Hayek Sr., the founder and […]

Leisure: Stirring South Africa

A perfectly seared medallion of springbok, tender and almost as mild as veal, holds the center of the dish, set off by an artistic slash of smoky butternut squash puree, burnished local porcini and chestnuts, and a swatch of brilliant purple cabbage cooked sous vide, as shiny as patent leather. The plate itself—forest green and […]

Wheels: Good Sport

To mark the initial U.S. deliveries of its GranTurismo Sport this fall, Maserati hosted road trips through California’s wine country in the new coupe and arranged a visit to the Sonoma Raceway. At the track, the guests watched gentlemen racers drive their cars through practice laps in preparation for that weekend’s round of the Maserati […]

Journeys: An Uncommon Wealth

Lara Livingston was 22 years old when her father, a New York physician, passed away, leaving her in charge of his beloved La Sardinera, a 1,700-acre grapefruit-and-coconut plantation on three miles of palm-dotted coastline in northern Puerto Rico. It was 1925, and the young Livingston had already earned a reputation as an intrepid spirit, flying […]

Elements of Style: December 2012

The fingers of the skilled craftsmen in John Lobb’s Paris atelier let your feet do the walking in comfort and style. The house responsible for elevating bespoke footwear to the sublime has taken its latest cue from the early 20th century, adapting elements from the Art Deco period for its new oxfords ($7,650), which feature […]

Out of Africa

Golf legend Gary Player is partial to the South Carolina vacation home his son Marc built. “We have something very special here,” Gary says of the forested property at the Cliffs at Mountain Park residential community. He and his wife, Vivienne, and their six children and 22 grandchildren all share the property, which Marc owns […]

Berkeley River Lodge

Guests of the Berkeley River Lodge can arrive by helicopter, dropping into a pocket-size valley of dusty buttes and emerald wetland and stirring up flocks of magpie geese and brolgas. Popping in on nature is part of the fun at the resort, a clutch of 20 villas that opened in April among the dunes in […]

Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai

The new Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, is intimate by modern Chinese standards, with 187 guest rooms and a restaurant, Shàng-Xí, with five private dining areas. But the hotel’s spaces—including 15 suites, the Executive Club Lounge, and an indoor infinity pool—are expansive and soaring, appearing even more so thanks to sweeping panoramas that take in […]

The Robb Reader: John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp made his name in music with gritty rock songs—“Jack & Diane,” “Pink Houses,” “Small Town”—that charted the joys and struggles of ordinary Americans. Born in Seymour, Ind., a descendant of German farmers, Mellencamp has remained true to his heartland roots throughout his 26-album career. In 1985, he and fellow musicians Neil Young and […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Belle Curves

Marc Newson’s sinuously biomorphic style has made him a star of industrial design. One of his defining pieces—the Lockheed Lounge, a fiberglass-and-aluminum chaise longue shown in the Australian designer’s inaugural exhibition in 1986—sold in 2009 for more than $1.6 million at Phillips de Pury & Company in London, setting an auction record for a contemporary […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Ultimate One-Upmanship

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster With their swooping fenders, mile-long bonnets, and opulent grilles, Mercedes-Benz roadsters from the 1930s epitomized the grandeur that persisted during the Depression. The long-tailed 540K Special Roadster was the marque’s flagship, commanding supreme respect on Continental roads and a high price at dealerships; it cost $14,000 (about $225,000 in today’s […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Meier de la Mar

THE GIFT A 1.2-acre lot with ocean and golf-course views at the new Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, in Puerto Rico. A home custom designed for the site by Pritzker Architecture Prize–winning architect Richard Meier. A ground-breaking party for 10 guests at the historic Su Casa villa at Dorado Beach. A round of golf for […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Clothes Quarters

THE GIFT A gentleman’s customizable, fully automated closet by architect Gordon Stein, including “smart butler” interface technology, six clothing modules with sliding doors, a Cognac-and-cigar bar, a coffee bistro, a watch-display tower, a safe room, a golf simulator, and an audiovisual setup. One week’s worth of Ermenegildo Zegna made-to-measure and ready-to-wear apparel and accessories, tailored […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Journey of a Lifetime

THE GIFT A personalized, lavishly researched genealogical trip from Ancestral Footsteps for the recipient and a guest. An hour-long documentary about the journey filmed by an experienced television director. An heirloom coffee-table book detailing the trip and the recipient’s family history. A family tree rendered in calligraphy by an esteemed heraldic artist. DNA analysis of […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Grand Tour

THE GIFT VIP access for the recipient and five guests to one stage of the 100th Tour de France, including first-class, all-expenses-paid travel and accommodations; on-course spectating in an official Tour vehicle; and the chance to meet one of the competing teams. A private bike ride on the course before the start of the stage. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Enchanted Egg

THE GIFT A bespoke jeweled Fabergé egg pendant created to the recipient’s specifications. A visit to Moscow with Fabergé creative and managing director Katharina Flohr.  A private tour of the Kremlin’s Fabergé egg collection. Starting at $750,000 For decades, Peter Carl Fabergé created extravagant jeweled works of art for the Russian royal family—most famously, a […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: At Your Service

THE GIFT A 60-piece set of Christofle Malmaison sterling-silver flatware embellished with diamonds and engraved with the recipient’s coat of arms. A custom Pinel & Pinel carrying chest.  First-class travel for two from New York to Paris to tour the Christofle Haute Orfèvrerie and Pinel & Pinel workshops. Accommodations at the Shangri-La Hotel Paris for […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Custom Cask

THE GIFT A cask of rare single-malt Scotch whisky from the Dalmore. Seven nights’ accommodations at Skibo Castle, a private hotel and country club. A visit by helicopter to St. Andrews for a round of golf. Bespoke jewelry from royal-warrant holder Hamilton & Inches. Custom “country pursuits” outfits from Holland & Holland. Round-trip private-jet transportation […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Splendor by the Spoonful

THE GIFT A year’s selection of the world’s finest caviar from Caviar Russe, featuring monthly deliveries of 500 grams with accompanying crepes, blini, and crème fraîche. A caviar party for 12 at the recipient’s home or at the Caviar Russe restaurant in New York, including a multicourse dinner prepared by executive chef Christopher Agnew. A […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Ruby to Revere

THE GIFT A 15th-century Buddha carved from a 70-plus-carat Burmese ruby. $4.3 million The tale of the ruby Buddha begins in the 15th century, during the Ming dynasty, when a Chinese artist carved this extraordinary piece from a single enormous Burmese stone. The statuette resided in the Summer Palace in Beijing until 1860, when the […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Rock for the Ages

THE GIFT A nearly 30-carat D-flawless, Type IIA Golconda cushion-cut diamond. A custom-designed piece of jewelry to showcase the stone. Starting at $7 million The world’s first diamonds were uncovered more than 2,000 years ago in the ancient Indian kingdom of Golconda. The precious stones were coveted then—as they are now—for their purity, whiteness, and […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: On the Right Track

THE GIFT A custom private racetrack from renowned German circuit designer Hermann Tilke. On-site storage and showcase facilities for the recipient’s auto collection. A modern residence overlooking the racecourse. Guesthouses, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. A private airstrip. Starting at $35 million Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and the late Ayrton Senna are […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Shelby Specials

THE GIFT The 1962 Shelby Cobra 260/289 that became the first Shelby Cobra to win an official race. The 950 hp 2012 Shelby 1000 that belonged to Carroll Shelby. $3.2 million ($2.75 million for the Shelby Cobra and $450,000 for the Shelby 1000) At the 1962 New York auto show, Carroll Shelby unveiled the first […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Fire Power

THE GIFT The one-of-a-kind, custom-made Ultimate Centennial Dragon pen from Montegrappa. A first-class trip to Bassano del Grappa in northern Italy to witness the pen’s creation. $850,000 On January 2, 2000, when embattled Russian president Boris Yeltsin abdicated his office, he reached into his jacket pocket and declared to Vladimir Putin, “With this pen, I […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Head of the Table

THE GIFT A unique, hand-carved 19th-century billiards table from M.S. Rau Antiques. Private lessons from, and a performance by, Mike Massey, world-renowned billiards champion and trick-shot artist. Four handmade cues by artisan Richard Black. $1.2 million Billiards champion Mike Massey has mastered many tricks in his time, but he is best known for the boot […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Personal Firsts

THE GIFT A pristine collection of rare and highly sought-after Bordeaux wine consisting of a case of the 1961, 1982, 1990, 2000, and 2005 vintages from each of the five first-growth châteaux—Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild, and Haut-Brion (300 bottles). Travel for six to Paris and Bordeaux arranged by Stacy Fischer and the team […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Lamborghini’s Sixth and 50th

THE GIFT A Lamborghini Sesto Elemento racecar. VIP participation—including driving the newest Aventador and Gallardo models—in Lamborghini’s Grande Giro 50° Anniversario road rally from Milan to Sant’Agata. Approximately $2.25 million Few automobiles excite the imaginations of car enthusiasts the way that Lamborghinis do. For 50 years, the Italian marque has set trends and inspired popular […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Wave of the Future

THE GIFT A 170-foot hybrid yacht from Feadship and Dobroserdov Design. Starting at about $44 million Sergei Dobroserdov envisions a smarter future for the yachting industry. As owner and lead designer of Dobroserdov Design and director of Nakhimov Yachts, both based in Monaco, the Russian native is in a unique position to make such projections. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Opera Odyssey

THE GIFT A European opera tour for two, visiting four legendary houses in four great cities, hosted by Frosch and guided by expert Fred Plotkin. Two sets of opera glasses from Trevor Philip & Sons. Starting at $995,000 The coming year will be a fantastic one for opera. Two superstar composers, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Mountain Time

THE GIFT Two bespoke complicated timepieces from Montblanc’s Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie. Two visits via private jet to the Institut Minerva, in the Swiss town of Villeret: first to consult with a Montblanc specialist and begin the design process, and then to witness the timepieces’ final adjustments and activation. A helicopter flight […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Magic Moments

THE GIFT A seven-night stay for as many as 24 people at Musha Cay, hosted by the private-island resort’s owner—and world-famous illusionist—David Copperfield. Levitation of one guest performed by Copperfield on a 2-mile-long disappearing sandbar. Lessons in small-scale illusions and one major illusion from Copperfield. The first ever snorkeling trip to view a new underwater […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Two if by Air

THE GIFT A Gulfstream G650 ultralong-range jet. A Gulfstream G280 super-midsize jet. Starting at about $89 million Ever since the Grumman Gulfstream GI twin-engine turboprop first took to the skies, in 1958, the Gulfstream name has been synonymous with the term business aircraft. Today, the Savannah, Ga.–based manufacturer, which was renamed Gulfstream Aerospace in 1982, […]

And to All a Good Light

Cigar smokers have cause to be especially joyous this season, for not since the Great Cigar Boom of the 1990s has such an abundance of hand-rolled riches been laid before them. This bounty has resulted, in part, from increased competition, as new cigar makers have entered the field and older, more established brands have felt […]