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Laughing at High Prices

There is little pleasure in watching the ever increasing prices of both wines and dining out. It may be of some little comfort, however, to know that however much we have to spend in the name of our pleasure, others have spent considerably more.

The highest price ever paid for a pig was $150,000. The pig in question, whose name was Myrna, had a special talent for hunting truffles. Her owner, Jean Argenteuil, who lived in the city of Nimes in Provence, once claimed that she was "the dearest and most beautiful animal in the world". Considering that Myrna located more than 10 kilos of truffles every year and that the price of truffles is about $1500 per kilo, Argenteuil felt fully justified in spending more than $1,000 per year for her life insurance policy. Myrna lived to the ripe old age of 15. Two weeks after her death, the insurance company honored their policy and hand-delivered a check for 750,000 Francs to her bereaved owner.

The highest price ever paid for a single kitchen pot was probably 25,500 pounds Sterling. Made entirely out of copper, the pot weighs 75 kilos and has a capacity of 250 liters. What makes the pot special is that it came from the kitchens of France's King Louis IV. The pot was bought by Donald Trump who donated it to the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

The highest price paid to date for a single bottle of wine was $265,000. The wine was a bottle of 1789 Chateau Margaux that had survived from the private collection of Thomas Jefferson and was auctioned at Christie's in London in 1989.

The highest price ever paid for a teaspoon was $5,000. The spoon, made of Sterling silver, belonged originally to Marie Antoinette, who carried it in a special pocket in her dress and used it to stir the sugar into her tea.

The highest price ever paid for a lamb chop was probably $150,000. The chop itself (including the mashed potatoes accompaniment) cost only $2.50. However, in 1977, when the person eating it choked on the bone and died, the court ordered the owner of the restaurant (The Airport Diner, in Newark, New Jersey) to pay damages to the estate of the deceased.

The highest price ever paid for a bowl of tomato soup was $100,000. In 1947, when multi-millionaire Howard Hughes was traveling incognito through Texas, he entered a diner, told the owner that he had no money, and asked if he could have something to eat. The owner gave Hughes a large bowl of soup. Two weeks later, one of Hughes' attorneys showed up at the diner, told the owner what had happened and presented him with a certified check from Hughes. Years later the owner recalled that the soup had not really been that expensive. "After all," he said, "I gave him four slices of rye bread with his soup".

by Daniel Rogov

(EDITOR'S NOTE: After Mark's article on escalating wine prices, this e-letter came from Daniel Rogov, food and wine writer, who kindly gave us permission to reprint it here. He prefers to be called Rogov and his columns, Rogov's Ramblings, may be regularly found on The Winelover's Page.)
 

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Article written August, 2000
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