Goldgenie's US$390,000, 24 karat gold-plated bicycle
For thousands of years, gold has been universally valued despite (or perhaps because of) its chemically inert properties. It's rare enough, but not too rare to be used as a currency. It doesn't react with much, so it doesn't rust or tarnish, and it has its own distinctive color, which made it easier to identify back in the days when coins were less trustworthy. Today, its value is more or less arbitrary – its conductivity, resistance to corrosion and malleability give it some practical uses in electronics, but otherwise it's valuable because the market has agreed it's valuable ... and for thousands of years it's also been worn as a symbol of wealth.
Which leads us to Goldgenie. For nearly a decade now, Britain's Goldgenie has been applying the old Midas touch to various household objects, including gold-plated, Swarovski-studded iPhones and iPads. But even festooned with gold and crystals, an iPhone 6 "Brilliance Elite" still sells for less than £3,000 (US$4692.21). To take things to the next level, Goldgenie was going to have to reach out to a higher grade of ostentatious tosspot.
And thus, the 24 karat gold Men's Racing Bike. Goldgenie's team of undeniably talented artisans took what appears to be a Giant Defy 3 aluminum framed road bike (RRP US$1049) and gold plated more or less the whole damn thing, from the tips of the handlebars, to the spokes, to the derailleur, chain and every single cog on the gear clusters.
"Sophisticated" black accents dot the bike in the form of a San Marco suede saddle, handlebar grips, and the tires. Everything else is golden enough to fit right in as you pedal between the Maybachs on a Saudi boulevard, your golden chain grinding golden flakes of gold off your golden sprockets. All this for a mere £250,000 (US$391017) and upwards.
I'm impressed by the workmanship and attention to detail here – as gold plated bicycles go, this looks like a very nice job. But the sheer, blatant awfulness of the concept wouldn't just make me think worse of the person that bought one of these things, it actually makes me think worse of gold itself. It makes me look down at my own wedding ring and cringe in disgust, as if I'm somehow complicit in this rotten charade.
And that's quite an achievement.