Mega-rich go on seasonal splurge

By Anna Rushworth

The recession might be over, but most of us are still keeping a close watch on the purse-strings this Christmas.

Not so the Rich Listers and mega-wealthy, who are splashing out on everything from superyacht-friendly handbags to the latest high-tech gadgets.

Jewellers, fashion houses and high-end stores are all reporting healthy trade, courtesy of well-heeled customers.

Louis Vuitton New Zealand managing director Mark Brown said the company's flagship Queen St store was enjoying a busy Christmas season.

Among the more popular gifts for women is the $4100 Bulles Bag.

Made from nylon with a leather strap, Brown said the bag would be ideal for days cruising the Kiwi coastline on a superyacht.

Another nautical-themed gift is an 18-carat rose gold diving watch for $36,000.

Not to be outdone in the luxury present stakes, the nearby Gucci store said two bags were selling well - a black python bamboo handbag for $7890 and an orange-shaded python jackie bag with hand stitching and tassel for $9580.

Of course fashion's not everyone's thing, and some of our wealthiest people could find some art under the tree on Friday.

Webb's auctions managing director Neil Campbell said it took $2.6 million at its last major sale - the most this year - and customers had spent almost $6m on art alone in the past eight months.

Many Rich Listers love luxury cars - and some may benefit from a loved one's pre-Christmas trip to Turners Auctions.

Sales manager Chris Broadhurst said the latest luxury sale saw 13 of 19 cars sold, including two Aston Martins one for $80,000 and a Bentley for $150,000.

High-end stores have also noticed more Christmas custom this year compared with last.

Rachel Beere, spokeswoman for DFS Galleria, which includes the Customhouse group of shops in Auckland, said customers had shown plenty of interest in the Tiffany & Co necklaces and diamond collections.

Lyn Tait, promotions manager for top Wellington department store Kirkcaldie & Stains, said personal shoppers had noticed a sharp increase in the amount of credit added to gift cards. Three $1000 luxury hampers, including treats such as Laurent Perrier Non Vintage Brut Champagne, had sold.

Gadget-hungry professionals who can't bear to be away from business over the holiday will no doubt be grateful to receive the latest Apple iPhone.

JB Hi-FI product manager Lasith Weeraratne said the new 3GS model, selling for almost $1400, was proving popular.

- Herald on Sunday

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