Datta Phuge calls himself “the gold man” and to live up to this self-image, he ordered himself a shirt made of gold to ring in the new year. He is a chit fund businessman from Pimpri, near Pune (India) . His wife – Seema Phuge is an NCP corporator,
As he took the delivery of his custom-made 3.25 kg 22 karat gold shirt last Thursday he had jewellery weighing 5 kg loaded around his neck and wrists as accessories.
His next, but by far more modest, aspiration in the making, is a gold covered mobile phone.
About 15 goldsmiths laboured over 15 days, working 18 hours a day, to make 14,000 gold flower rings, interwoven with one lakh spangles, which were assembled on a fabric base of imported white velvet. The shirt has six Swarovski buttons and a gold belt to complete the look.
“After extensive research on the design and the look of the piece, I decided to give it an armour-like appearance,” says Tejpal Ranka who designed this opulent apparel.
Phuge, clearly a lover of bling, owns about 10 gold chains (including three chains of 70 tolas or 700 grams each), six bracelets and 25 rings, collectively weighing 10 kilograms.
But his most prized possessions are custom-made personal effects, which include a pen and a wristwatch made by the same jeweller. Now, the shell of a phone from Nokia’s gold series is being further gilded. It is likely to cost him another Rs 2.5 lakh. The phone is expected to be ready in a month’s time. “The body would be retained and the cover would be made in gold. This will be challenging as the elasticity of plastic cannot be matched by gold; so the skill set of the designer is put to a complete test,” says Ranka.
Phuge sees a lot of wisdom in his style of flamboyance. “People buy cars and go on holidays abroad. For me, gold is the ultimate passion. That is the reason I have spent a whopping amount of money on the shirt. I am looking at it as an investment which will keep appreciating.I inherited a fair amount of gold; I also want to leave behind a sufficient amount of gold for the next generation,” he explained. He has, however, not set himself a target on the quantum of gold he finally hopes to hoard. He is also not bothered by security concerns even in these days of rampant chain snatching. “I have my own security system in place. I always move around with bodyguards,” he says.