Popularly known as the ‘goldman’ in Pimpri-Chinchwad, Dattatray Phuge’s novel attempt to grab eyeballs paid off on Thursday. The 40-year-old shot to fame for making the most expensive fashion statement this city has seen in a long time.
Phuge was spotted wearing a shirt made up of 22-carat pure gold which is worth a whopping Rs1.27crore. The shirt weighing 3.5 kg includes a belt of 325 grams. Known for his penchant for gold, he self admittedly wears gold ornaments weighing 7 kg in his daily life.
It pieces together 14,000 gold spangles interwoven with 1 lakh rings on a specially imported white velvet cloth. It features six Swavorski crystals as buttons.
The shirt has been designed by city-based Ranka Jewellers, who employed 15 skilled artisans from West Bengal. They laboured for 18 hours everyday over two weeks for completing the piece. But where will the Goldman wear his shirt of gold?
“At major public events or where he needs to make a statement, otherwise it will stay in the locker,” said Seema, Phuge’s wife. Ask Phuge the reason for this eccentric act and he promptly replies, “I wanted to catch everyone’s attention.”
Both Phuge and Ranka Jewellers said that this ‘stunt’ would earn the ‘goldman’ a place in the Guinness or Limca Book of records. Given his weakness for the bling, it is little wonder that Phuge was one of the favoured clients of Ranka Jewellers. A few weeks ago, Phuge met the jewellery brand owner with a unique request. “I said that I owned everything right from chains to rings, bracelets, watches in gold. Now, I wanted something that no one would have,” he said.
“That’s when Tejpal Ranka suggested making a shirt of gold. Just like Shivaraj Maharaj used to wear a chain shirt while going to war, this garment was to be similar. I didn’t think it was possible but was excited with the idea as it would help us garner international attention,” he added. A well-known landowner, who also runs a co-operative credit society and financial institutions, Phuge also has political connections. His wife Seema is an NCP corporator in Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. She was earlier with the Shiv Sena.
Despite the bling, Phuge said that he doesn’t fear for his security. “I have been wearing a heap of gold since many years. I am always surrounded by my trusted boys and no one can dare to harm me,” he challenged. Even the fear of the taxmen doesn’t worry him. “It’s all tax paid money. I have no fear of the taxmen,” Phuge said.
But unlike her husband, Seema said that she doesnt crave for gold. In fact, she sees the shirt as a mere investment. “Though I also have lot of gold ornaments, I don’t envy him and neither am I as attracted to gold like him. The way I look at it, its an investment. If we have any dire need, it can help raise money and we can pocket a neat profit given the way gold prices sky rocket,” she said.
She also accepted that such acts would help in building public memory as the ‘goldman’ has political aspirations too. “He wants to contest the Shirur parliamentary seat. I that happens, we are confident of his win,” Seema said.