21 Ultimate Gifts


Amazing backyard amusement park, depth-defying personal submarine, perfect pair of Porsche Speedsters, and an immaculate Egyptian mummy. Plus, surprises from Van Cleef & Arpels, Michael Mondavi, Alfred Dunhill, The Macallan & much more.

From This Issue

21 Ultimate Gifts: Bugatti Bookends

THE GIFT: 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Corsica Four-Place Open Tourer 2011 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport Parmigiani Bugatti Super Sport watch OriginTimes Big Block Winder Starting at $9.78 million (including $7 million for the 1936 Bugatti) It is a rare occurrence when any vintage Bugatti becomes available on the open market, but the offering of […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Unchartered Territory

THE GIFT: A three-week, 10-person charter trip aboard Aquos Yachts’ 148-foot expedition vessel Big Fish as she makes a historic journey over the Northeast Passage next summer. Big Fish’s 164-foot sister yacht, Star Fish, to be completed and delivered to the recipient in 2012. $44 million  No private yacht has ever traversed the Northeast Passage—the […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Gift Wrapped

THE GIFT A circa 190 BC–10 AD Egyptian mummy. A circa 600 BC–500 BC Egyptian sarcophagus. $165,000 for the mummy; $85,000 for the sarcophagus When William Jamieson, a Canadian dealer of curiosities and tribal art, says, “I like anything that a kid would like,” one might fear for the future, when those kids become grown-ups. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: No Ticket to Ride

THE GIFT A custom-built backyard theme park with a full-size steel roller coaster, a virtual-reality robo-coaster, a rotating hammer swing, a children’s wooden coaster, a carousel, and other attractions. $20 million, plus annual upkeep Craig Hanna began to envision a private backyard theme park while discussing a dream project with a potential client. The client, […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Dial Up the Romance

THE GIFT His and her one-of-a-kind Van Cleef & Arpels watches designed to tell the story of a couple’s romance. A long weekend for two in Paris and Geneva, including first-class airfare, accommodations, and dining arrangements. Private tours of Van Cleef & Arpels’ ateliers in Paris and watchmaking facilities in Geneva, and a consultation with […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: A Liquid History

THE GIFT Eight extremely rare single-malt Macallan whiskies barreled during each of the last eight decades and selected with the assistance of the whisky maker at the company’s distillery in Scotland. Eight custom Lalique crystal decanters to contain the spirits. $1.5 million The Macallan’s portfolio of single-malt whiskies is among the largest and oldest of […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Wilde Card

THE GIFT An elaborate circa-1875 games table, equipped with original pieces and made specifically for the Albemarle Club in London, the famous private club that was rocked by the Oscar Wilde scandal. A set of 12 dining chairs, circa 1860, created from designs by Thomas Chippendale. $263,500 Oscar Wilde once said, “One should always play […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Vegas, Baby, Vegas

THE GIFT A four-night stay in a two-bedroom villa at the Mansion at MGM Grand for the recipient and three guests. A private tasting with Joël Robuchon in the kitchen of his eponymous restaurant at MGM Grand followed by a 16-course meal in the villa or the restaurant. A round of golf at Shadow Creek. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Top Fun

THE GIFT A four-day aerial training and combat experience for eight participants, culminating in a four-on-four fighter-jet battle. An Aero L-39 Albatros fighter jet and a chance to earn jet-pilot certification. $2.5 million Somewhere between six and eight times the force of gravity, you might feel woozy as the blood circulation to your brain slows […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Cat Crusaders

THE GIFT Cosponsor and participate in the Big Cats Flyover, a three-month mission to save lions from extinction led by National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert. All-expense-paid travel (via private plane and helicopter) for two for all or part of the mission through 11 African countries with the Jouberts and other wildlife experts. Work […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Up To Speed

THE GIFT 1958 Porsche 356 1600 Normal Speedster 2011 Porsche 911 Speedster Delivery of the new Speedster at the Porsche factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany. Private tour of the factory. Two days of driving instruction for two people at the Porsche Sport Driving School in Leeds, Ala. Starting at $670,000 (including $425,000 for the 1958 Porsche) […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Epicure’s Odyssey

THE GIFT A vineyard-to-table trip for two—created and led by chef Charlie Palmer—that begins in California’s Sonoma wine country and ends in two New York temples of haute cuisine. A personal introduction to Palmer’s Sonoma, including a trip to the Healdsburg Farmers’ Market, a tour of the region’s top wineries, a private blending session with […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Legend in the Making

THE GIFT An unprecedented opportunity to create 200 cases of first-growth-quality Napa Valley wine, from vine to bottle, with the Michael Mondavi family. Private dinner for four at the home of Michael Mondavi to taste the family’s wines, including rare vintages from Michael’s personal cellar, plus a vineyard tour with the winegrowing team. Participate in […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Red Fire

THE GIFT A collection of 13 natural red diamonds—among the rarest gems in the world—and two rings, each featuring one of the red diamonds and almost 15 carats of exceptional-quality white diamonds. A private consultation with Leviev’s chief jewelry designer, who will travel to meet the client Internationally (or the buyer will be flown round-trip, […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Rock Star

THE GIFT A nearly 30-pound piece of the famed Willamette meteorite. $900,000 The Willamette meteorite could be compared to the Mona Lisa. Just as the fame accorded to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece transformed it into an international symbol for fine art, the Willamette, which has been viewed by some 50 million people over the last […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Low Glider

THE GIFT A one-of-a-kind two-person submersible glider built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies. A trip to the Bahamas for three days of training in the glider with its signer, Graham Hawkes. $1.6 million Graham Hawkes is something of a mad scientist in the world of water-going vessels. As part of his company’s Deep Flight line of […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Player’s Club

THE GIFT VIP access to all four 2011 majors golf tournaments for the recipient and three guests, including first-class airfare and accommodations. Entry in the Bob Hope Classic pro-am for the recipient and one guest, including accommodations and the use of a classic car for the week. One year of monthly lessons for two with […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: The Lost Vessel

THE GIFT A solid-gold chalice from the 17th-century Santa Margarita shipwreck. $1.3 million The fantasy of sunken treasure lured Mike DeMar, a 20-year-old diver from Seattle, across the country and into the sparkling blue-green waters off Key West, Fla. It was June 2008, and he was the rookie on a shipwreck-exploration team tracking underwater trails […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Writ Large

THE GIFT A one-of-a-kind Montblanc writing instrument designed exclusively for the recipient. First-class travel to Hamburg, Germany, to meet with Montblanc artisans and craftsmen at the company’s Artisan Atelier. Starting at $275,000 For more than a century, Montblanc has created limited-edition writing instruments—made of gold and other precious metals and inlaid with diamonds and rubies—that […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Fit for a Gentleman

THE GIFT An exclusive two-day visit for the recipient and a guest to Bourdon House, the Georgian mansion in London that serves as Alfred Dunhill’s flagship store and private club. Round-trip, first-class airfare to London; chauffeured transportation to and from the airport; and a suite for two nights at the Lanesborough, a St. Regis Hotel. […]

21 Ultimate Gifts: Espresso Maestro

THE GIFT A fully outfitted espresso bar for your home—designed by Lamill Coffee CEO Craig Min—including a top-of-the-line La Marzocco machine. Your own personal barista, trained by Lamill experts, on call 24/7 for a year. Lamill coffee blended to your specifications and delivered to your home each week for a year. A cupping session with […]

Home: Tiles Ahead

The Meissen porcelain factory near Dresden, Germany, is best known for its popular figurines depicting people and animals in allegorical and pastoral scenes. In the early 18th century, however, the company had a more regal reputation. The elector of Saxony, Augustus II, founded Meissen in 1710 as a maker of fine objects, such as statues […]

Home Electronics: A New Dimension

About the time this past spring when manufacturers began delivering their inaugural lines of 3-D-capable TVs, famed movie critic Roger Ebert was expressing his disdain for 3-D as a film format. In a column in Newsweek, Ebert argued that 3-D “is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness” and asked, rhetorically, whether Casablanca would gain […]

Collectibles: The Sweet Buy and Buy

Instead of beaming over the game jersey that Mickey Mantle wore during his final three seasons with the Yankees, or the rare 100,000-yuan gold coin that is expected to fetch at least $500,000, Heritage Auction Galleries president Greg Rohan wants to talk about the pane of glass that separates those items from window shoppers and […]

Jewelry: Narrative Forms

Dickson Yewn considers himself to be as much an auteur as an artisan—one who weaves his yarns in metal and stone. “In the Chinese culture, jewelry is given and worn as an amulet that represents luck, good health, or success, and my pieces continue that tradition,” says the designer, who grew up in Hong Kong […]

Watches: Emotional Inventory

In describing DeLaneau’s new Madison Avenue boutique, company CEO Cristina Wendt-Thévenaz prefers not to stress the fact that it will be the only watch store in New York City that caters exclusively to women. Nor does she mention that the prices of the Geneva-based watchmaker’s timepieces, which cost from $35,000 to $2 million, might make […]

Wardrobe: Solid Footing

When Ben Hogan was at the top of his game in the early 1950s, the American golf professional used to say that the secret to his winning swing was not so much in the wrist as it was “in the dirt.” What Hogan did not disclose was that his golf shoes, custom-made by Maxwell of […]

Sport: First in Flight

Nguyen Thanh Trung raises his finger in the air to test the wind. “It’s gusty,” says Trung, sport coordinator at the Princess d’Annam Resort & Spa in Vietnam, “but we’ll be OK.” Trung and I are standing on the shore of the secluded Ke Ga Bay, in southern Vietnam, on a perfect balmy day in […]

Travel: Climate Change

During the scorching summer months in Forte dei Marmi, children play in the fountain on the Piazza Garibaldi, where sprawling sidewalk cafés serve Prosecco and gelato in glasses that perspire in the heat. Bicycles sit idle along quiet tree-lined streets, and modest low-rise villas stand behind manicured walls of shrubbery. Even after the sun sets […]

Spirits: Partying Shot

In 1843, Chivas Brothers—a high-end grocer owned by John and James Chivas in Aberdeen, Scotland—was granted a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria as grocery purveyor to Her Majesty, and the brand has maintained its association with the British royal family ever since. The brothers began making fine whiskies in the 1850s, and when Queen Elizabeth […]

Wine: Miraculous Monopoles

To look at the most fabled vineyard in the world, one would never guess that this modest yet meticulously cultivated plot of roughly 4.5 acres enjoys such a romantic past. Originally owned in the 13th century by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint-Vivant, the property fell into a series of secular hands over […]

Dining: Mountain High

Riding ultrawide fluorescent-pink flowered skis, Traci Des Jardins darts around trees, bounds over moguls, and tucks into turns on the black-diamond backside at California’s Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. The San Francisco–based chef is on a break from her work at Manzanita, the fine-dining establishment she debuted at Northstar’s Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, hotel last winter. But if opening […]

Autos: Hitting a High Note

Devotees of Porsche’s 911 might appreciate the automaker’s efforts to maintain the rear-engine sports car’s performance at a state-of-the-art level as it nears its 50th anniversary. But most never have fully forgiven Porsche for replacing the car’s air-cooled engine with a liquid-cooled model in 1998, an alteration necessitated by tightened international emission- and noise-control regulations. […]

Matakauri Lodge

American hedge fund billionaire Julian Robertson Jr. searched for years for a property on New Zealand’s South Island to complement the pair of resorts he owns on the country’s North Island. Last year, he and his son Jay, who manages the family’s hotels, completed the mission with the acquisition of Matakauri Lodge. The property, which […]

The St. Regis Osaka

Lined with 900 ginkgo trees, Midosuji Avenue in Osaka, Japan, is known as the city’s Champs-Élysées for its classic early-20th-century buildings, large department stores, and bustling sidewalks. The St. Regis Osaka, which opened in October, occupies the bottom two stories and floors 11 through 27 of a brand-new high-rise on this popular shopping stretch in […]

Island Time

Mark Gosselin had already built and sold a home in Maui when he set about creating his residence in Honolulu. The San Diego–based real estate investor and avid outdoorsman wished to be close to the city, and he knew precisely what he hoped to achieve on his oceanfront property near Diamond Head. “I wanted the […]

FrontRunners: Branching Out

Interior designer Nicole Fuller expanded her services earlier this year when she established Isabella Wolfe (www.isabellawolfe.com), a furniture company whose initial offerings include attention-grabbing yet elegant pieces that range in price from about $4,000 for the lacquered Delight side table to $175,000 for the Family Tree chandelier—the highlight of the brand’s inaugural collection. Silver-leaf branches […]

FrontRunners: Fantastic Voyager

Vicem Yachts presented the distinct-looking Vicem 78 Cruiser (www.vicemyacht.com) at the Cannes and Monaco boat shows in September to much applause. Vicem, which will celebrate its 20th year of boatbuilding in 2011, designed the yacht’s high-rising bow and broad, 21-foot beam to provide comfortable transport during long voyages in potentially tumultuous deep-ocean waters. The 78-foot […]

Robb Design Portfolio: Radiant Geometry

Lasers lend these designs their cutting edge. Parisian jeweler Lorenz Bäumer (www.lorenzbaumer.com) is not the first artist whose inspirations sometimes exceed the technical skills of even the most expert artisans. Such was the case with his concepts for the Mikado series, which features interpretations of motifs borrowed from the Murano glass doors of Venice’s Palazzo Venier […]

FrontRunners: From The Robb Cellar

The 845-acre estate located on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain began as a much smaller concern. At the top of the property stands the original stone winery built by Charles Lemme after he purchased the acreage he named La Perla in 1873. In the 1890s, the Schilling family of San Francisco bought Lemme’s land and combined […]

FrontRunners: Nuvision’s New Lucidium FX10 LS

NuVision’s new Lucidium FX10 LS  (www.nuvision.com) series of LED-edge-lit LCD panel televisions are equipped with proprietary software designed to eliminate the judder and blur that can appear when filmed content is displayed on an LCD panel. (The FX10, or “film times 10,” shows only standard content; the company’s forthcoming Connoisseur Series will display standard and 3-D […]

Off The Charts

The world’s top charter yachts have always followed a predictable path: They spend their summers in the Mediterranean and their winters in the Caribbean. This winter, however, some of the biggest and best boats are charting new courses to such exotic locales as the Maldives and even Madagascar. The Caribbean remains the region of choice […]

Wheels: Now That’s Italia

Nothing really was wrong with the F430. If Ferrari only had tinkered with its V-8 two-seater for the next few years—maybe adding a couple horsepower or creating a Wolfgang von Trips special edition—no one would have complained. And yet, here we are with the 458 Italia, the F430’s thoroughly overhauled, thoroughly over-the-top replacement, which, by […]

Time: Partners in Time

It is a long-standing tradition in the watch industry for established companies to grouse about the encroachments of newer brands, particularly when those brands come from outside the insular Swiss watchmaking community. But in recent years, members of the old guard have become more amiable toward these interlopers. Indeed, some of the most respected Swiss […]

The Robb Reader: Mario Andretti

More than 15 years after retiring from professional racing, Mario Andretti still shows no signs of slowing down. The Italian-born motorsports champion—who during his racing career won titles in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sportscar Championship, and NASCAR—has a namesake racing-experience facility in Charlotte, N.C.; acts as a brand ambassador for MagnaFlow Exhaust Products and Firestone; […]

Formal Education

Until the second half of the 19th century, a gentleman dressing for the evening donned his waistcoat, white tie, tails, and top hat. In the 1860s, however, Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, presented the man of fashion with another option. After scandalizing society in general and his mother, Queen Victoria, in particular by conducting an […]