It's no surprise that every year we're left asking ourselves: Are people really buying this stuff?
The answer is a resounding "yes, " Ginger Reeder, vice president of corporate communications at Neiman Marcus, told The Huffington Post.
What started as a way to drum up publicity for the store quickly became a viable business. Reeder says that about half of the gifts are sold each year.
The most expensive gift ever offered was an unfinished Boeing Business Jet in 1999 that was priced at over $35 million - it never sold. But when it comes to the most expensive gift that were actually sold, that award goes to the $6.7 million NM Limited Edition Bell helicopter, which was offered in 2001.
With so much copious spending going on, Neiman Marcus makes a point to give back. Each year the company selects a charity to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the fantasy gifts. The Heart of Neiman Marcus Foundation, which brings enriching art experiences to youth in communities nationwide, will benefit from this year's sales.
While we've got our hearts set on that Iris Apfel-approved trunk of flashy accessories, we wanted to round up some of Neiman Marcus' most mind-boggling gifts of all-time. Check out the 11 items selected (and explained) by Reeder below - and prepare to be amazed.
"Mr. Marcus was known for specializing in the rare and the beautiful. In the 1950s the Shar-Pei was down to a mere 12 dogs. When these were offered, only 2, 495 were registered with the Shar-pei Club of America.""This ornate Chinese boat resulted in eight orders to be delivered to five different bodies of water."
Editor's note: A "junk" is an ancient Chinese sailing ship.
"A bath shop in Paris claimed a copyright for the idea of the double bathtub. Mr. Marcus was advised by counsel not to go to Paris on his annual buying trip lest he be arrested. The suit was eventually settled."
"To combat the mood of pessimism permeating the company, Mr. Marcus came up with a Noah’s Ark, which would take four years to build and included a selection of animals. And for the optimist, he offered an oak sapling for $10 that would grow to a height of thirty feet or more. We did not get a single order for the Noah’s Ark - but over 1, 500 for the sapling."
"The authentic mummy cases made front page news around the world. They were shipped directly to our then-new store in Bal Harbour, Florida, to celebrate the opening of our first store location outside of Texas. They were purchased by the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Diego."
"The steer was offered either on the hoof for , 925 or in 300 pounds of steaks, roast, ground beef, etc. for , 230. We sold one steer to a customer in South Africa whereupon we learned we were responsible for the care of the steer while it was in quarantine for 6 months."
"The suit of armor was bought by a couple for their adult son who traveled the country attending medieval fairs. Contemporary men cannot fit into antique armor so it was a perfect gift."
"When Mr. Marcus went to meet with Ford regarding this retro styled Thunderbird, they told him they wanted to do a limited edition of 200 – the largest we had ever offered. He thought they were crazy, but they knew what they were doing. We sold out of the cars in 2 hours and 15 minutes - a new record for us!"
"Only one was purchased. The camel arrived to the states on Christmas Eve just in time for live coverage on the 10 p.m. news. A woman in Fort Worth, Texas, was watching with her daughter and said, “I wonder who’s the darn fool getting that?” She found it under her outdoor Christmas tree the next morning."
"There were no buyers for this submarine, but the next year - just after 9/11 - I received a call from the operators saying that a 'Sergeant Ryan' needed me to call him back regarding the submarine. We had received so many prank calls about the submarine (Does it come in yellow? Can it be gift-wrapped?) that I was hesitant to call Sergeant Ryan back. I finally did at the end of the day. He was calling from the New York City Terrorism Task Force and was trying to determine if there was a private submarine out there that they needed to be tracking. After assuring him that we had not sold any, I proceeded to apologize for taking so long to get back to him, but that I was not sure his call was not a joke. He said, 'No problem Ms. Reeder, when I heard there was a catalog offering a $20, 000, 000 submarine I thought that might be a joke.'"
"This was the first His and Her gift. We got a request from a West Texas rancher saying that he could not use both planes, but he would like to buy one for the 'little woman' who had been hankering for a plane of her own for a long time."