In a market riddled with foreclosures and ratcheting public debt, the last thing you’d expect would be a major bank’s upkeep of a boom-times credit card.
Nevertheless, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) actually unveiled the most expensive American credit card ever produced three years ago — a card whose palladium-struck body alone is worth an even thousand dollars. Clearly accruing enough revenue to be maintained throughout a recession, JPMorgan’s palladium card is also the first U.S. card to be implanted with a smartchip — and requires an annual fee of $595 to uphold its benefits package.
As overblown as this might seem, JPMorgan’s card stands sensible next to a rash of luxury goods that have emerged over the course of this recession. Here’s a look at five items that make JPMorgan’s credit card seem a sound purchase by comparison:
Golden Staples: To ward against what outlet OOOMS refers to as “the overly bland corporate environment,” they offer $80 golden staples. While marketed for use on clothing, this is likely the kind of product you would want to avoid leaving near the freshman intern’s office supplies.
Luxury Tequila: While the late Christopher Hitchens once warned that bargain liquor is “a false economy,” a line probably should be drawn somewhere. However, bust times generally urge drowning of sorrows, and MarcoPress reported that Mexican distillery Hacienda La Capilla produced a single bottle of tequila valued at $3.5 million dollars. Named “Diamond’s Law,” the bottle is covered with exactly 4,000 diamonds weighing 328 carats, and is fully coated in platinum. Hacienda La Capilla’s former priciest bottle was sold in 1996 for only $250,000.
Gourmet Ramen: While you’d imagine this a contradiction in terms, London luxury outlet Harrods released a gourmet cup of noodles that retailed for $43, and was packaged in a handmade, gold-leafed container. Produced as a shipment of 100 in a limited release, all sale proceeds were allegedly donated to charity — which doesn’t lessen the fact that this was successfully marketed as a gourmet cup of noodles.
Virtual Real Estate: CNet reported in November 2010 — amid the global recession — that a piece of virtual property in the online game Entropia Universe sold for a clean $635,000. In the game’s computerized universe, the acquisition represented a sort of virtual luxury resort. You’d imagine the pixelated version of Palm Jumeirah wouldn’t be in high demand, but apparently the individual who sold the ‘property’ bought it for $100,000, and therefore turned over a 600% profit — while shattering the record for highest sale of virtual property set when he bought the estate from its previous owner. However, the market popularity of virtual property remains questionable.
Golden Backpack: You’d assume that this would only be used to deploy literal golden parachutes, but for the junior over-spender in all of us, Billoinaire Boys Club released a line of golden packpacks in spring 2009. Retailing at $1,650, the product was marketed as “very similar in style to the original Louis Vuitton rucksack” — because anything costing north of $1,500 can likely be no longer called a “backpack.”
— With contribution from Kyle Woodley, InvestorPlace Assistant Editor