Ladies & gentlemen, the J.P.Morgan Palladium Card:
It’s got your name laser-etched into it, rather than printed on those mere bourgeois plastic cards in raised lettering. It’s made out of 23-kt gold and palladium, which is some rare expensive metal. Depending on how commodity prices are doing on a given day, it may be worth more than $1,000 or so if you just melted it down and sold off the metal in it–which is more than the annual fee itself ($595, or a small rounding error on a Palladium card-holder’s monthly wine club invoice). The card is made out of metal to make it durable, heavy, attractive, and noticeable: when dropped upon a silver platter, it makes a distinctive “ping!” sound.
It’s reported that in order to be invited to apply for the Palladium card, you must have an account with JPMorgan’s private bank, with net assets of at least $25 million, ranking you well above just the 1%. There are thought to be fewer than 5,000 of these little doodads floating around.
Some cities have a litter problem, some suffer from high crime rates and others might have a lack of affordable housing. And then you have Dubai, which for the last several years has been facing the unusual problem of high end sports cars being abandoned and left to gather thick layers of dust at airport car parks and on the roadside across the city. If you’ve ever been to Dubai or anywhere in the United Arab Emirates, you will have noticed they have a serious car culture out there, with a particular preference for the latest and greatest in high-end super cars. But like the rest of the world, Dubai has fallen on hard times. Once the hub of the oil economy and the centre of a booming property market, foreigners, mostly British, invested in the red hot market. Newly wealthy ex-pats bought the lastest Italian and German sports cars to compliment their millionaire lifestyles– and then the global economic crisis came along and burst everybody’s bubble. Thousands of the finest automobiles ever made are now being abandoned every year since Dubai’s financial meltdown, left by expatriates and locals alike who flee in a hurry because they face crippling debts. With big loans to repay to the banks (unpaid debt or even bouncing a cheque is a criminal offence in Dubai), the panicked car owners make their way to the airport at top speeds and leave their vehicles in the car park, hopping on the next flight out of there, never to return. Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs, Mercedes are regularly abandoned at the car park of Dubai International Airport, some with loan documents and apology notes simply left on the windscreen and in some cases with the keys still in the ignition. Last year, a Ferrari Enzo, one of only four hundred manufactured, was seized by police having spent several months in a car park collecting dust. The million dollar motor went on sale at auction alongside other Ferraris, Porsches, Range Rovers and Mercedes plucked from the roadside.