by Kathy Wolfe

This week, Tidbits has the facts on some very spendy items, some of which are the most expensive in the world!

If you’re in the market for a used Lamborghini, consider a 2014 Veneno Roadster, produced for the company’s 50th anniversary. Only 9 roadsters and 5 coupes were produced, resulting in the rather hefty price tag of $4.5 million. If that’s a little rich for your blood, a 2017 Centenario Roadster is in the $2.8 million range.

    The world’s most expensive spice is derived from the flower of the crocus sativus. Saffron has a pungent flavor used in many traditional Indian, Middle Eastern, North African, and European dishes. This crocus only blooms twice a year and has an intensive harvesting process, requiring the flowers’ stigma to be carefully extracted. There are only three stigma per flower, all of which require manual labor of 40 hours per 150,000 flowers, the number of flowers required to produce 2.2 lbs. (1 kg.) of saffron. It’s not unusual for the price of a pound of saffron to reach $5,000.

If you have an original 1959 Barbie doll, chances are good that you might be able to get close to $25,000 for this childhood treasure. Collectors are looking for a doll in mint condition in the original box in order to pay that much.

Maybe a pair of Levis is too plain for you. In that case, Armani jeans start at $230 a pair, but might cost as much as $1,295. Gucci jeans start at $600. APO jeans have a range of $1,200 to $4,000, depending on fabric and embellishments. Their design with a diamond button and gold rivets starts at $4,000. Even their economy version at $1,000 features pockets of pure silk. Dolce and Gabbana jeans retail for nearly $4,500. While a pair of Escada stretch skinny jeans can be purchased for $350, those embellished with genuine Swarovski crystals might fetch up to $10,000. And although Levi’s might seem like a bargain, consider that a pair of vintage 1893 Levi Strauss blue denim trousers sold in May, 2018 for $100,000.

    Students accepted into Harvard can expect to pay close to $80,000 a year for tuition, fees, room and board, books, and supplies. It’s about the same for another Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, about $81,350. With its 8% acceptance rate, the Philadelphia school has been ranked as America’s best college for business. Princeton University, with a 6% acceptance rate, collects over $83,000 for the academic year.    The price tag for Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts school in Claremont, California, is $85,000.

One art collector nabbed a Vincent van Gogh painting of a garden of cyprus trees at a 2022 auction for the tidy sum of $117.1 million. Another enthusiast spent $136 million on an 1880 Paul Cezanne landscape of the peak of Sainte-Victoire. An 1884 masterpiece by Post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat fetched $149.24 million. But none could compare with the astounding price paid for Andy Warhol’s 1964 silkscreen painting “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, a colorful portrait of actress Marilyn Monroe, with the buyer going home with $195 million less in his pocket.   

      Wealthy celebrities have been overnighting at Manhattan’s prestigious Mark Hotel since 1927. Overlooking Central Park, the penthouse suite    covers the top two floors of the hotel and will set you back $75,000 a night. For this price, you can enjoy the five bedrooms, six bathrooms, two powder rooms, four fireplaces, two wet bars, and a large living room that can be used as a ballroom. The penthouse at Geneva, Switzerland’s Hotel President Wilson features a wall of glass and private balcony overlooking Lake Geneva, 12 bedrooms, a dining room seating 26, a 2500-sq.ft. living room with a 103-inch television, billiard table, and Steinway grand piano, and its own private gym. This can all be yours for $80,000 a night! If you can afford $100,000 a night, relax at the Royal Atlantis in Dubai, which features a 12,000-sq-ft (1128 sq. m), two-story penthouse complete with 100-year-old olive trees, marble floors, four bedrooms, and a private infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

    When we think of expensive violins, the name of Stradivarius might come to mind. It’s estimated that this genius crafted 960 violins, of which less than 250 are accounted for. The highest price paid for a Stradivarius violin to date is $16 million. There remains one that is considered in “nearly new” condition, with the instrument in very good repair and the original varnish still intact. This “Messiah Stradivarius” has an estimated worth of $20 million. The Italian craftsman made around 75 cellos, one of which sold in 2008 for $20 million. But it’s the Stradivarius violas that command the most money. He completed just 10 violas, making the MacDonald Stradivarius, created in 1719, worth $45 million.

    New York City’s Serendipity 3 restaurant isn’t afraid to charge exorbitant amounts for their menu items. Located on East 60th Street, and founded in 1954, in commemoration of their 50th anniversary, the establishment introduced a unique dessert known as the Golden Opulence Sundae. It starts with three scoops of Tahitian Vanilla ice dream, which is covered in 23-carat edible gold leaf, Madagascar vanilla beans and chunks of rare Venezuelan chocolate. It’s topped with candied fruits from Paris, gold-covered almonds, chocolate truffles, and marzipan cherries. It’s capped off with a small glass bowl of caviar with a mother of pearl spoon. The bonus is that the patron is allowed to take home the serving dish, which is an 18-carat Baccarat Harcourt Crystal goblet, along with an 18-karat gold spoon. All of this for just $1,000! Ice cream isn’t the only expensive menu feature. The restaurant nabbed the Guinness World Record for the world’s most expensive hamburger, the $295 Le Burger Extravagant. In 2014, another record for the most expensive sandwich was achieved by Serendipity 3, the $214 Quintessential Grilled Cheese.

    Baseball cards can be worth some pretty hefty sums, for instance, a 1911 Honus Wagner card. Known as “The Flying Dutchman,” Wagner was in the first group inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame class in 1936. In 2021, this card sold for $6.606 million. That same year, a 1952 Mickey Mantle card was snapped up for $5.2 million, and a 1933 Babe Ruth card in mint condition was purchased for over $4.2 million.