What did you buy your loved one for Valentine’s Day? Flowers? Chocolates? Perfume? Perhaps even a bit of jewellery?
In recent years, the most generous of gifts ever bought at auction or at art fairs for a loved one must surely be those endowed by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich – once a part-time resident just up the road above Rake – on his now ex-wife Dasha Zhukova, one of the world’s foremost art collectors.
Starting with Femme de Venise I, a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti at £7.5 million, which he bought in 2008, he worked his way up through a group of 40 paintings by the Russian artist Ilya Kabakov – at around £20 million plus each – to works by Francis Bacon (£45 million) and Lucian Freud (£20 million).
Beyond the world of art and auctions, I think that it will be hard for anyone to top the greatest expression of love through a gift that is the Taj Mahal. The 17th century wonder was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in tribute to his much mourned favourite wife, Mumtaz. Taking over 20,000 workmen and craftsmen more than 20 years to, build, it cost the equivalent of around £500 million in today’s money.