An Indian textile magnate who made a fortune from his clothing empire is making sure the rest of the world knows about his success – by having a shirt made out of pure gold.
Although he left school without any qualifications Pankaj Parakh created a multi-million pound textile business in India.
And now, to celebrate his upcoming 45th birthday on Friday, he has commissioned the solid gold shirt that weighs more than four kilos.
He said: ‘I wanted to wear something special when I say my thanks for my success at a thanksgiving visit to the Siddhivinayak Temple of the Hindu elephant god in Mumbai.’
And after paying just £127,000 to buy the gold and have it turned into a golden shirt, he thinks he got a good deal.
‘I have always been fascinated with gold since I was five-years-old and studying in school. And over the years that interest has become a real passion. So it was logical that I would want to make my 45th birthday a golden affair.
‘In fact even on my wedding 23 years ago a lot of people said it was embarrassing that I was wearing more gold than my bride, but I just love the Royal metal.’
The shirt that has seven solid gold buttons is due to be officially modelled by the clothing magnate on Friday, but he tried it on in advance after collecting it from the Shanti Jewellers at Parel in Mumbai, where a team of around 20 craftsmen collectively spent 3,200 hours over the past two months to ‘stitch’ it together.
The gold used in the shirt has an 18-22 carat purity, without any other metals, and he added: ‘Before the taxman starts coming round, I can guarantee that every bit is properly recorded in my company accounts.’
Last year wealthy Datta Phuge has splashed out £14,000 on a solid gold shirt to make sure he’s a 24 karat hit with women in central India
Despite being made of gold the shirt has been so carefully made that it is as flexible as a normal shirt, he claims, and also just as comfortable because there is a thin cloth lining the inside.
He said: ‘It is easily washed and can be hung up to dry just like a normal piece of clothing, and a good a lifetime guarantee with it so that if it’s torn or damaged it will quickly be repaired.’
After leaving school early before graduating he had thrown all of his efforts into developing the family garments business in Yeola, a town of some 60,000.
He is married to wife Pratibha and has sons Siddharth, 22, and Rahul, 19, both now in college, and added: ‘I am the only one in the family that seems so passionate about gold, the rest of my family is neither impressed or interested in gold. They just accept that it’s my passion and it’s part of our domestic life. My more extended family however think I’m a bit weird but I guess that’s families.’
He is a local politician himself and despite criticism that he flaunts his wealth among people who are poorer, he is actively involved in community projects and recently funding 120 operations for polio suffers at the Narayan Seva Sansthan Hospital of Udaipur in Rajasthan.
‘I spend at least a week each year offering voluntary services at the 1,000-bedded hospital, the biggest and best for polio treatment in India. I also arrange for any requirements of the poor patients like food, medicines, surgery and blankets, from which I get immense satisfaction,’ Parakh said.
And he added: ‘I admit you need to be brave to wear a shirt like this, brave and also in possession of a gun like my fully licensed revolver which I also carry with me every time I go out.’
And the cost of the gold shirt is reportedly a fraction of what he has splashed out to make sure the birthday party is a spectacular affair, with hundreds of guests including Maharashtra tourism minister Chhagan Bhujbal of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and around a dozen MPs from various parties and Indian celebrities.