Founded in 1834, Harrods has been popular with London’s wealthy residents and foreign visitors for generations. As I enter the shop and make my way towards the escalators, a thought occurs to me. What if you found out that you had won a free gift from Harrods worth between two point five and six times the national average annual pre-tax salary of about £26k? I expect that you would punch the air with delight and jump up and down in the excited manner of a child. But there’s a catch you are told. Your celebrations stop and you listen intently. The gift that you will be receiving is to be the most overpriced, useless and tasteless item in the store as voted by your peers. Your expression of glee is replaced by one of confusion but you remain hopeful. For how bad can a prize costing a small fortune be?
I make the decision to try and locate some potential prize material and decide to make the Fine Arts department my first port of call. I am met by the sight of a Maquette Jelly Baby Family (see picture 1), created by Mauro Perucchetti. These are all the rage and there are currently examples at Marble Arch, the tallest of which is 3.2m. They are an acquired taste and personally I do not find them overly offensive but the price tag of £65k is oppressive, due in part to the fact that these jelly babies are made out of pigmented urethane resin, which I am aware from previous research retails for as little as £28.05 per kilo. Art is of course a highly contentious and personal matter. I decide to move on.
Next stop is a department that one would describe as dining orientated. There are various dining fowl including this large silver swan (see picture 2). It has no stated purpose other than to sit in the middle of one’s dining table, the light from the chandelier above flickering invitingly on its silver contours. That is all good and well but with a price tag of £150k I would be expecting far more.
I am perusing the items in the Luxury Gifts department when I stumble into this (picture 3). A nearly two metre long ostentatious heron-headed boat with mannequins striking ludicrous and vulgar poses on its deck. A glance at the £124,400 price tag confirms that my search is over. For not only does this eye-sore have no purpose but it will also take up a great deal of space in your sitting room leaving you little room for a sofa let alone a widescreen television, in addition to leaving your guests feeling nauseous and violated.
So there’s your prize. Did I mention it’s non-refundable?