A crystal piano? My friends need to up their present game
What sort of present can you expect to get from your friends this Christmas? A pint at the local? A book you've been dying to read? That lip gloss you covet but would never splash out on for yourself? How about a personalised, hand-crafted crystal grand piano that you can use in multiple ways, such as lying on top of for a magazine photoshoot and, um, playing. You may need to make some small changes, such as renovating your home to make sure that piano is protected from the elements, but sure you have to give in order to receive.
If it's starting to sound a bit out of your league, perhaps you need to think bigger - or to find yourself some friends who are substantially more flaithulach. Because, as Miranda Kerr and Leonardo DiCaprio know, a crystal grand piano is just the glittering tip of the celebrity gifting iceberg.
It was supermodel and cosmetics company owner Miranda who was the lucky recipient of the piano in question. Having played since childhood, she told Australian Vogue she loved to have a piano in the house just as her grandparents did. Made in Holland by the Crystal Music Company, the instrument, valued at between $170,000 and $1million, is not actually crystal - it's instead made from clear acrylic, which exposes its workings and makes sure that the main living space of Miranda's Malibu home stays "clean and airy", as Harper's Bazaar described it. That magazine also photographed the keen pianist draped atop the piano wearing a glittering Armani gown, dripping in Bulgari jewellery and either taking a selfie or reading something on her phone. The custom-made piano was just one of the items reportedly gifted to Miranda by friend and admirer Jho Low. (He's not to be confused with singer JLo who, according to partner Alex Rodriguez, prefers gifts that are more heartfelt than expensive. He told reporters that this year he'll be gifting her a handwritten note and photo of a special family moment. Might we suggest a crystal photo frame at the very least, Alex?) The munificent Malaysian financier is also said to have given Kerr a "substantial" amount of jewellery, including an 11.7-carat heart-shaped diamond and 11-carat diamond earrings.
Mr Low is also reported to have lavished presents on actor pal Leo. What do you get the Hollywood A-lister who has everything? A collage by John-Michel Basquiat and a painting, Still Life With Bull's Head, by Picasso is the answer apparently. The actor was also given the Oscar that Marlon Brando won for 1954's On The Waterfront - quite the stocking filler.
Alas, the reason that all of this lavish Kris Kindling has come to light this week is because the US government has accused Mr Low of money laundering. It's alleged that money from a fund that was supposed to benefit the Malaysian people was instead siphoned off into the accounts of bankers, the former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his associates, as well as Mr Low. With the investigation ongoing, DiCaprio turned the paintings and Academy Award over to the government and Miranda Kerr surrendered the jewellery she was given.
The crystal piano, however, is proving a little more difficult to re-gift. When it was originally delivered to the model's California abode, the piano maker was upset to find that it was to be kept on an outdoor deck. He recommended the area be enclosed to protect it, and a room was accordingly built around it. Now, Miranda Kerr's lawyers say, she is willing to hand it over but, according to The New York Times, there would be demolition work needed to extract it. Put simply: it won't fit out the door so it will cost US authorities more than the piano is worth to knock and rebuild the star's walls.
If there's a moral lesson in this fantastical celebland farce then I'm struggling to find it. Perhaps it is wiser, after all, to look a gift horse in the mouth? What I'm taking from it all is that my friends need to up their present game this Christmas. I think I'm worthy of some precious gems and an old master or two. If not, I'll be downing that pint, snapping that spine and slicking on that gloss quicker than you can say 'gift receipt' just in case they are in any danger of being repossessed. Oh, and I'm putting piano lessons on next year's Santa list.