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Meet India’s ‘Man with the Golden Shirt’

AFP
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Datta Phuge with his shirt made of gold, worth Rs. 1.27 crore.PHOTO: AFP
Datta Phuge with his shirt made of gold, worth Rs. 1.27 crore.PHOTO: AFP

India is a country known for its love of gold, but for one businessman a ring or chain was not enough.

Datta Phuge is now the proud owner of a golden shirt worth 1.27 crore rupees , made up of 14,000 pieces of 22-carat gold and put together by 15 craftsmen over 16 days.

“Gold has always been my passion since a young age. I've always worn gold as jewellery in the form of bracelets, rings, chains,” he told AFP.

The 42-year-old, who lives in the Pune district of western Maharashtra state, hatched the plan late last year with a local jeweller friend.

“We were thinking, is there something 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 he had asked Guinness World Record to recognise his shirt as being the heaviest.

He only wears it for special occasions, along with numerous flashy gold accessories. The rest of the time the shirt is locked up at home.

Irresponsible choice?

His fashion choice may sound ostentatious in a country where an estimated 42 percent of children under five are malnourished, but Phuge is adamant that “it is my property, it does not matter what other people think or say”.

He seems delighted that the shirt, with its six Swarovski crystals for buttons and matching gold belt, has brought him his 15 minutes of fame.

Phuge, a grandfather who runs a finance company, also says he is a keen social worker and harbours ambitions to go into politics.

Showy displays of gold have become something of a trend in the area, started by late local politician Ramesh Wanjale who became known as the “gold man” around Pune — a title Phuge seems keen to inherit.

“Everybody knows me as the 'gold man' in the whole region. Other rich people spend one crore to buy Audis or Mercedes, to buy what they like. What crime have I done? I just love gold,” he said.

India is the world's biggest consumer of gold, with purchases an essential part of religious festivals and weddings.AFP


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