Millionaire Fair in Moscow strikes visitors' imagination with luxury
Millionaire Fair, which opened in Moscow on Saturday, will close on Wednesday today. Thousands of so-called “new Russians” inundated numerous stands selling all kinds of luxurious goods that wealthy people need in their everyday lives: gold-plated coffee pots, marble angels, Jewel-encrusted pens, Lamborghinis, yachts and helicopters. There was even a live tiger on a lead near the stand filled with gold suitcases. ”Russia has become one of the best markets for us, which is a lot more stable than the US market, - Christina Bluethner, the heiress of the renowned German piano-maker said. – We have sold over 30 pianos in Russia since 2003 for $95,000 each.”
”Moscow is like paradise to me. Moscow and Shanghai – these are the only two cities in the world where one can amass huge fortunes,” interior designer Alexander Vasiliev said. The man acknowledged that he was making a lot more money in Moscow than in Paris. According to the recent research conducted by Cap Gemini and Merrill Lynch, there are 88,000 dollar-millionaires living in present-day Russia. On the other hand, the average monthly salary in Russia does not exceed $200. Wealthy Russians are especially conspicuous in Moscow where they acquire luxurious goods apparently trying to catch up with the time that they lost during the Soviet era.
The number of millionaires living in Russia pales in comparison with the USA, which counts 2.5 millionaires, Germany with 760,000 and Great Britain with 418,000 millionaires. Russia, however, ranks second after the USA on the number of billionaires. The Millionaire Fair was held for the first time in Amsterdam three years ago. It has won the reputation of one of the most respectable exhibitions devoted to the world of luxury. Organizers of the fair consider Russia to be a very perspective market for luxurious goods and therefore chose Moscow as a hosting city of the show in 2005. Over 200 prestigious companies and brands took place at the Millionaire Fair in Moscow, including Bvlgari, Bentley, BMW, Cartier, Fairline, Jaguar, Remy Martin, Mercedes, Mont Blanc, Porsche, Riva, Rolex, Sony, Starline, Wolford and many others.
The organizers provided beautiful girls to serve strawberries on large platters, artists on stilts to scatter rose petals on visitors' heads, ladies with high coiffures to walk Dalmatians and millionaire-looking gentlemen to wear derbies and lace-up shoes. The most expensive exhibit at the fair was an exclusive helicopter for $1.5 million. There are only three of such helicopters in Russia now. There was a strict dress code for visitors to enter the Millionaire Fair: men were supposed to wear tuxedos, whereas women had to be dressed up in beautiful evening dresses. Some visitors did not feel well because of what they could see at the show: one of the female visitors was hospitalized with “luxury shock.” Another visitor, however, purchased an island during the weekend. Next year the Millionaire Fair will take place in Shanghai, Newsru wrote.
The Rich in Russia
There are very few places in the world like this place. The most modest house costs more than $10,000,000. Parked on the quaint, beautifully paved roads are the latest models of Toyota, Chrysler, and Mercedes-- all polished and shining just as in a car salon. Streets are thronged with attractive young women dressed in furs that would make the most fashionable Parisian green with envy. Everything is separated from the rest of the civilization by a young pine tree forest. In the suburbs of Moscow, this oasis of luxury seems more out of place than anywhere else. Russia has not seen such splendor since the time of czars. But, even then, the big money was restricted exclusively to the royal family and the upper echelons of aristocracy, which comprised just a fraction of the country's large population.
After the communist revolution replaced blue-blooded aristocracy with the red mob, hardly anything had changed. Although workers and farmers were herded into cheap blocks of flats with one lavatory for the entire floor and no running water, the communist party activists built palatial dachas in the suburbs of Moscow, St. Petersburg and other fashionable places. Leonid Brezhnev, who presided over the country in the 1960s and 1970s, not only had several villas scattered across the Soviet Union, but he owned a forest where he could hunt for bears and deer, undisturbed. In 1991 the Soviet Union was dissolved and, as with the royal family in 1917, communists were mercilessly thrown from the podium. A new group of immensely rich people was born: when a highly-centralized state fell apart like a house of cards and all nation-owned companies were up for grabs, those who knew how to pull strings accumulated vast fortunes in months, if not weeks.
At first they would hide their wealth from their countrymen by keeping money in Swiss banks or living on one of the Mediterranean islands. But a decade after the last monument of Stalin disappeared from Moscow's numerous squares, the rich decided it was high time they revealed themselves. They changed cheap cherry and green suits for top European brands. Gold chains, rings, necklaces and earrings were bought in previously unheard of quantities; later, they adorned trophy wives of some new oil tycoon. It was said that all the gold mines in South Africa– the world's biggest gold exporter– could work fast enough to satisfy the demandd of the Russian billionaires. Capitalist Russia has one of the most stratified societies in the world. Although the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeds $1.7 trillion, which gives Russia the 9th position in the world, only a fraction of this sum goes to ordinary citizens. While the number of millionaires grows faster in Russia than anywhere else in the world-- there were 88,000 of them in 2005 and this number increases every year by about 15 percent-- for the majority of Russians, very little or nothing has really changed since 1991.
Except for Moscow, which boasts first place in Europe's most expensive capitals, people in the provinces lead the same life as their fathers and grandfathers did when communism was the country's national religion. Communal, post-Soviet blocks of flats are packed full with people who can't afford their own place; it is not uncommon to find two families living in one flat with a shared bathroom and kitchen. The luxury village, which has now acquired the status of a city, was designed in 2002 and finished within the first months of 2007. The fears that the developer might have problems getting clients in a country where the average citizen earns less than $6,000 a year proved groundless. The demand was so huge that, as the first residents began to move in, a few miles away diggers and rollers were paving the way for another village. According to the developer, the exclusive apartments will be ready next year.
It is hard to please people for whom money is not a problem. Apart from grandiose palaces and villas, often designed by some of the world's most famous architects, the village hosts a number of stores with popular brands such as Chrysler, Coco Channel and Rolex-- these are the modest ones. Women can flick through the latest models of furs, dresses, shoes and xxxelry long before fashionistas can admire them in Paris or Milan. Anything below a Mercedes, with all the extra gadgets, would be considered passé; car companies from around the world have their most luxurious products shipped to Moscow and its suburbs. Following the fashion, the village residents splurge on yachts and airplanes, completely staffed and fully equipped.
Stalin would turn in his grave if he saw this capitalist orgy at the very doorstep of Moscow. More than eight decades of communism have made Russians willing to show off the countless amounts of money they have earned fast, and that they can spend even faster. It is not a problem to say “easy come, easy go,” when the source never dries up. But, it also creates antagonism between the extremely rich and the extremely poor in a society that has a long history of civil war. Even the highest fences and the thickest forests may not protect the luxury village and its residents, if it remains the oasis of comfort in a desert of dire poverty.
Russia can become one of five leading world economies within 10 years - Putin
If Russia's current economic growth rate remains in place in the next ten years, it could become one of the five most economically developed nations in the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said. "If the current trends continues and if the economic growth rate remains the same, Russia could become one of the five leading economies in the world within ten years. And we will surely accomplish this," Putin said at a forum of his supporters in Moscow on Wednesday.