Editors' pick: Originally published May 5, 2016.When Roald Dahl wanted to sell his fairy tale about semi-magical tickets, he wrote them as wrapped in chocolate and gold. It was a fitting way to imagine a world where people would beg, borrow and steal for admission to one of the most exclusive morality plays on the planet.
Well, it turns out there's no need to imagine. Maybe Dahl invented his trippy world of an eccentric candy-maker, but tickets so valuable that people would claw over each other for a stub? That hits remarkably close to reality...
In fact, some of the prices people will pay for admission to the most exclusive events would make even Veruca Salt herself blush. To help put this all in context, and to comfort anyone who's never blown the tuition money on a ringside hot dog, furniture company Seats and Stools put together a helpful list: the ten most expensive tickets in modern history...
10. 2007 Led Zeppelin, London
In 2007, Led Zeppelin held a reunion concert to commemorate music executive Ahmet Ertegun. This show at London's O2 Arena wasn't just some opportunity for old bandmates to crash out one last gig. It was a gathering of one of the most legendary bands in music history to celebrate one of its largest figures.
And it had the price tag to match.
According to the band's own webpage, this one-time concert set a world record for concert ticket demand with 20 million requests to see Led Zeppelin take the stage one (quite possibly last) time. As a result it should be no surprise that when a seat came available for nearly $15,000, there was someone out there more than willing to pay the price.
Concert tickets: the investment strategy your financial advisor keeps secret.
What's better than seeing one of rock and roll's greatest bands stride the boards once again? Apparently it's going to a baseball game.
O.K., it gets better when you consider that this was the price of admission for a ticket behind home plate at the World Series, but come on... In 2015 the Mets played the Kansas City Royals in a series that became primarily, bafflingly, known for its outrageous ticket prices.
This wasn't a Red Sox back-for-the-first-time situation. The Cubs didn't break their long doldrums, nor was it even a subway series. This was a straightforward, five game matchup in which the Mets largely put on a clinic for their fans.
There have to be better things on which to spend $17,600.
It's no surprise that the Super Bowl made an appearance on this list. In fact, it would almost be surprising if it didn't show. As not only the most sought-after sporting event, but also one of the most popular tickets of any kind at all, according to website Stub Pass, the Super Bowl is a legend of excess, right down to getting in the gate.
Well, someone was willing to get in on the fun, ponying up over 20k for a seat on the 50-yard line.
"These are pretty much the most dramatic examples," said Andy Kearns, content manager with Digital Third Coast who led the research and called this Super Bowl ticket the most expensive seat for a football game in history. There's not much surprise there, and all of it without even hiring Jim Harbaugh.
Around the world a growing sub-set of luxury travel has begun to emphasize opulent rail service, from the revival of the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Hiram Bingham up to Machu Picchu. None, however, can rival the sheer expense of taking the Maharaja Express eight-day Heritage of India tour.
Making the contradictory offer of experiencing "the very depth of the soul of India in sheer opulence," this trip does criss-cross some of nation's most monuments such as the Amber Fort and the Taj Mahal, all overshadowed by Day Six's opportunity to paint a bunch of elephants. (This is not a joke.)
It's practically a steal.
Like the Super Bowl, Las Vegas is an experience known for its excess. There's almost enough said when a city can successfully brand itself through collective amnesia, so the engorged prices that boxing fans paid to see Floyd Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand might make sense in context.
Except for the content of the actual fight.
Thanks to a disappointing showing by both contestants, what was originally billed as the "Fight of the Century" soon became known as the "Better Late Than Never" battle. With Mayweather taking the defensive, and Pacquaio fighting on an injured shoulder, spending $40,000 on this fight justifies Kearns's outlook on these prices: "Every single one of them is ludicrous."
Now, to be fair, it is a very nice ticket. In fact, it's less of a ticket and more short term lodgings in the airline's "penthouse in the sky." This is an experience designed to make first class look like that time your boyfriend brought home Arby's to celebrate Valentine's Day. From The Mirror:
The new cabins - dubbed The Residence - feature a living room, an ensuite shower room and a bedroom - and even come with a dedicated butler.
Measuring 125 square feet in total, the cabin is located on the forward upper deck of the A380 [Airbus] and can accommodate either one person or two people traveling together.
At least now we know how Zuckerberg flies, when he goes commercial.
How many different ways can we break this number down? Paying $81,000 for a basketball game is:
$8,100 per player on the court. That's a lot of pressure to perform...
$500 per basket. With a combined 162 points between the Celtics and the Lakers, it's not often that each jump shot can be measured in terms of scratch-and-wins.
$27,000 per referee. Ordinarily fans can't do more than fume when the refs make a bad call, but when you could literally be putting their kid through college, maybe they should let you at least blow the whistle.
$4.26 per person in attendance. I'm sure seeing the game was fun, but Plan B could have been getting on the JumboTron to announce that "this round is on me!"
Let's be honest, that last option would have gone down in sports history...
Now we're starting to get into oddly sympathetic territory.
Yes, it's true that a ride on Richard Branson's latest dream machine is more expensive than the earlier entries by an order of magnitude. Yet at the same time, this is the first entry on the list which is touching on something truly priceless.
So far everything else has seemed like an extravagant, if not obscenely wasteful, way to indulge in doing something just "better." People can fly to the Middle East or attend a basketball game, or even see the Super Bowl, without spending the equivalent of many families' annual income just to show off. Going to space, though, is a singular opportunity reserved to a select few in human history.
For those who have the means, getting to see this pale blue dot seems worthy at any price.
We can all thank Warren Buffett for ruining the curve against which success is measured. It used to be the case, once upon a time, you could go home for the holidays and tell the relatives that you were employed with good prospects and had recently met a nice girl. Throw a puppy or the possibilities of grandchildren into the mix and your reputation as the "good" grandchild would be cemented for another year.
Those were simpler times.
Now, thanks to Buffett and his annual charity auction, the only real question is "how much would people pay to have lunch with you?" In Buffett's case, a multi-million dollar answer makes sense, as the infamous investor is known to give financial advice and, in one extraordinary case, even a job at this power lunch.
By the way, how am we the only ones to consider that this should be held at the Golden Corral so it can be called Buffett's Buffet?
Price: $35 Million
As Kearns said, "if [you've] got a few billion dollars and [you] want to spend $35 million to spend ten days on the space station, I actually kind of get that."
Let us not mince words, the International Space Station is the single greatest feat of science, imagination and engineering in human history. Nothing we have accomplished in all of our short years on this planet can match the sheer willpower it took to hang a vast, complicated structure in orbit and keep it there against the laws of electromagnetics and gravity.
The International Space Station is improbable and extraordinary. Speaking personally, if we had $35,000,001, we would try to outbid the next passenger.