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The Astonishing 'Art' of Conspicuous Consumption
During Covid-19
From truffles to racing pigeons
by James Parry

During this crippling pandemic and for months now - particularly from south of the border - we have been hearing horror stories of desperate families going hungry and food banks stretched to the limit, wage-earners now without a job and not another one in sight, tenants behind in their rents being evicted and literally thrown out on the street with only what they can carry, and ever-increasing concerns about mental health and greater depression caused by Covid-19.

And yet, it seems, there are some in the world who are not fazed a bit. With obviously more money to spend than they know what to do with exemplifying conspicuous consumption that fair boggles the mind! Take the case, for example, of two gentlemen richer than Croesus, who recently decided to invest in racing pigeons and truffles, those fungi originally and up until some 40 years ago sniffed out by pigs both in France and Italy.

Now, I have tasted truffles in the past. And truth be told, they tasted just like good regular mushrooms you can buy at your local supermarket. But evidently over in the town of Alba in northern Italy, they have been staging prestigious two-month long truffle auctions for the past 90 years attracting afficiandos from throughout the world anxious to acquire these ugly-looking 'delicacies'.

And just this November, a guy in Hong Kong shelled out 100,000 euros - $155,000 - for a certain specimen weighing in at 900 grams. Roughly three times the average annual salary of full-time emloyees in Canada, according to the latest government statistics.

Fair boggles the mind it does. Just hope he isn't going to stuff it in an omelette and invite his friends over for breakfast! Or try to sell it on Ebay to make a few extra bucks which obviously he doesn't really need!

And then, also this month, the Chinese buyer who bought at auction a two-year-old Belgian-born racing pigeon called New Kim that he snapped up despite fierce competition from another Chinese fancier for a cool $2.4 million and considered it to be a bargain in the process. Seriously folks, you can't make this kind of stuff up!

You see, in recent years, Chinese enthusiasts have been turning their attention and obviously unlimited funds to a sport that originated in the U.K. back in the late 1800s. Whereby the birdies are kept together in the same coop for months before being released hundreds of miles away and finding their way back home. With heavy bets on the winner and places.

Well, it certainly was a winner for the Belgian family that decided to put up all their 445 birds, including New Kim, for auction. They walked home with some $8 million to further feather their financial nest!

Meanwhile, over to the U.K., it seems that while pigeon racing has been in somewhat of a decline in recent years it is now enjoying a resurgence. Due partly to the fact that it became the first spectator sport to return in the spring following that season's Coronavirus lockdown. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's New Kim! Go figure!

And figure this one out if you are looking for a late-minute Christmas gift for that very special loved one in your life and money is no object. Cartier, founded in France in 1847 and today one of the world's most famous jewellers, has created its most expensive piece ever. A platinum and 107-diamond necklace going for a mere 25.2 million euros. And that's not at auction.That is their demand price. There is a bonus, however. The pear-shaped pendants at the bottom, each encapsulating 26 carats of diamonds, are detachable and can be worn as earrings!

And that's a wrap!