Back home, he drives a two-seater Mercedes SL-Class cabriolet. In Dubai, when Khaleej Times gives him a call, he’s in a taxi. Robert Gülpen, designer of the most expensive luxury car in the world, is tired. His voice is nearly gone from too much talking to the media. He’s had a busy day, very likely repeating himself on sound bytes such as how much Dubai seems to love roads and cars and gold.
But despite being under the weather, he spares time to speak with Khaleej Times.
Gülpen’s miniature gold Lamborghini was displayed at The Dubai Mall on Wednesday, and can be bought for $7.4 million — or Dh27.2 million if we’re talking local money. The luxury toy car, carved using 25 kilogrammes of gold — adorned with a whopping 2,000 diamonds that cost 1.5 million euros alone — will remain at the mall and on display for another three weeks. Dubai is the first stop out of Europe for the car that is on a world tour, to get buyers.
There are no such buyers yet, just fascinated observers. “Everybody took pictures,” Gülpen said. “They seemed to like it”. Even the women, “because they like diamonds and went to fetch their husbands”.
To some visitors at the mall, Gülpen’s exhibit — the subject of multiple pictures adorning mobile phones — “is a ridiculously priced gold car”. To people less indifferent, it’s a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 that will cost 16 times more than a full-size version of the car that retails for $441,600. And, well, you can’t take it out for a spin.
Gülpen who has also created miniatures of the Morgan Aero 8; Mercedes Benz 500 SL and Aston Martin DB5 from precious metals and gems, says he doesn’t really have a favourite car. And then again it’s probably unfair to make him choose. It takes him a year and a half to craft one model specimen, a year-and-a-half just “to work on the mould and execute it”.
His friends are envious, his family is proud (“my father and mother are in heaven”), and he thinks visitors to auto shows in any part of the world are largely the same, and express their love for cars in the same ways, with mostly uniform reactions. He does think, however, that people in Dubai are “probably more enthusiastic”.
For those offended by the sheer excess, there is some consolation. A chunk of the money is for charity. To be precise, $650,000 is reserved for a charity to be chosen by the buyer. Another such option for the buyer is to customise the interior using carbon fibre — something to be done at the buyer’s own cost.
As for a little windfall gain, if anyone wants to play broker and find Gülpen a buyer, he is ready to pay the person — “whoever it is, man or woman, anyone from anywhere” — a sum of $350,000 as commission, not to be sniffed at. Perhaps it is time to keep our eyes and ears wide, wide open.