Belfast Telegraph

How the other half lives at Christmas

By Frances Burscough

One week from today it will all be over bar the shouting. But as you glance over at your small pile of lacklustre Christmas presents and wish they’d come with receipts attached, you may start to wish you had a few rich celebrities as lifelong friends. Or, better still, you were married to one.

One of my favourite subjects at this time of the year is what the super-rich give to each other as gifts and I’ve been keeping a dossier on that very subject so that you too can feel as jealous or as bemused as I do.

Mariah Carey, for example, would be a great buddy to have at this time of the year. One Christmas she sent her female friends and family each a pair of her own brand-label pantyhose, which were studded with real diamonds and worth £15,000 each. Ok, so you would never actually wear them, but I’m sure some nutty Mariah Carey fan on eBay would, and might even pay over the odds for the privilege. Alternatively you could pick the diamonds off and make them into something you really would wear. And I don’t mean a diamond-studded bra. It’s not known what her male friends got, but I’m guessing it might have been jewelled underpants. Ouch!

Beyonce gave her hubby Jay Z a Bombardier Challenger 850 Learjet in 2013, complete with cream leather seats, a living room, kitchen and two bathrooms. It’s not known what the cost was, but I’m guessing £Gazillions. In return, he bought her a classic 1959 Rolls Royce, which cost him a mere million. What a cheapskate!  Meanwhile closer to home, the King and Queen of Green — Sting and his wife Trudy Styler — gave each other a living Christmas tree, freshly pluck’d from the grounds of their country estate. Fair enough, you might think. Sounds almost normal, until you discover that they splurged over £10,000 on hand-blown Murano glass baubles and Swarovski crystal lights. If that was what they spent on the tree, we can only guess as to how much went into the parcels under it.

Earlier this year when Johnny Depp married Amber Heard he gave her the keys not just to his heart, but to his luxurious yacht called the Amphitrite. They should have re-named it the True Love, just like Grace and Bing in the film High Society, don’t you think?. Wow, talk about jammy! And, as if being married to the world’s most gorgeous heart-throb AND bagging a superyacht weren’t enough, he also gifted her with a pair of adorable Shetland ponies. Personally, I’d swap the lot for a single night with Johnny.

Coleen Rooney’s first Christmas as a missus was marked by a new motor. And, as you’d imagine, it wasn’t just any old banger but the new Bentley, no less, in her favourite colour. This now sits well alongside their growing fleet of luxury cars which includes a couple of other Bentleys an Aston Martin Vanquish and a Porsche 911.

Meanwhile the Becks, of course, splurge an obscene amount of money each Yuletide. A typical letter to Santa from Beckingham Palace might include a Rolls Royce Phantom for David (£270k or thereabouts) a diamond and ruby encrusted necklace for Victoria (£1.2 mill) and £25k worth of toys, games and designer clobber for each of the kids. Whether they are quite so generous with their friends and family isn’t clear, but I’m assuming it wouldn’t be a Cadbury’s selection box.

When Justin Timberlake was in London a few years back he arranged to have Harrods opened up at night-time just for him so he could buy a few wee extras for his (then) girlfriend Cameron Diaz. Two hours and £1.5 million later, he was just about finished. Which is precisely what the actress did with him a few days later. Perhaps he just hadn’t spent enough?

But possibly the most ostentatious of all was when Elton John gave himself as a gift one Christmas. At a charity ball he auctioned a 90-minute private concert for the highest bidder. The privilege went to an unnamed (very) wealthy recipient for £750,000. Funny, because that’s precisely what I would pay (if I had it) not to have to listen to Elton non-stop for 90 mins...

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