The man with the golden shirt

AFP | FEBRUARY 09, 2013, 06:49 AM IST

India is a country known for its love of gold, but for onebusinessman a ring or chain was not enough. Datta Phuge is now the proud ownerof a golden shirt worth Rs 1.27 crores (made up of 14,000 pieces of 22-caratgold and put together by 15 craftsmen over 16 days. "Gold has always beenmy passion since a young age. I've always worn gold as jewellery in the form ofbracelets, rings, chains," he said.

The 42-year-old, who lives in Pune, hatched the plan latelast year with a local jeweller friend. "We were thinking, is theresomething different we could do with gold? What has no one done before?"he said.

At 3.32 kilograms, the end product is so hefty Phuge said hehad asked Guinness World Record to recognise his shirt as being the heaviest.He only wears it for special occasions, along with numerous flashy goldaccessories. The rest of the time the shirt is locked up at home. His fashionchoice may sound ostentatious in a country where an estimated 42 percent ofchildren under five are malnourished, but Phuge is adamant that "it is myproperty, it does not matter what other people think or say". He seemsdelighted that the shirt, with its six Swarovski crystals for buttons andmatching gold belt, has brought him his 15 minutes of fame.

Phuge, a grandfather who runs a finance company, also sayshe is a keen social worker and harbours ambitions to go into politics. Showydisplays of gold have become something of a trend in the area, started by latelocal politician Ramesh Wanjale who became known as the "gold man"around Pune -- a title Phuge seems keen to inherit. "Everybody knows me asthe 'gold man' in the whole region. Other rich people spend one crore (10million rupees) to buy Audis or Mercedes, to buy what they like. What crimehave I done? I just love gold," he said.

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