Design Crimes: The World's Most Expensive Bottled Water

With an estimated price of $60,000, this might be the least sustainable product in the world. Naturally, the proceeds are going to a global warming "charity."

<a href=Fernando Altamirano water bottle" />

Did World Water Day leave you parched yesterday? Why not quench your thirst with a $3.3 million water bottle filled with H20 from natural springs throughout the world. That's right, Fernando Altamirano, who previously brought you the world's most expensive cognac bottle, is now selling the world's most expensive bottled water.

Each bottle supposedly contains spring water gathered from France and Fiji, and glacier water from Iceland, and a splash of gold dust. They range in price from $275 for a crystal version, to $2,900 for a 24-carat gold version (the gold and silver version, pictured above, is $2,600). If that's not enough for the oil-sheik-who-has-everything, here's also a mock-up of a $3.3 million model, encrusted with 6,000 diamonds. The design itself is an extraordinarily tacky rip-off homage to Amedeo Clemente Modigliani.

To promote this new venture, Altamirano ventured into some bizarre territory: On March 4, he attempted to auction a 24-k bottle, for an estimated selling price of $60,000—and promised that the proceeds would go towards an anti-global-warming charity, the "Plan3t Foundation."

We couldn't find any public records related to the charity, and the only reference to it we could find on the web was this broken Web site—and the charity happens to be founded by Altamirano himself. Now, there's nothing wrong with having an in-house charity, but at the very least, it raises some alarms—real foundations, founded by corporations, usually have separate boards to deal with just this issue.

But it would take more than a board of directors to make this bottle sustainable. The carbon-expended in gathering up all that water is probably enough to cancel whatever good the "charity" hopes to foster. (For our previous coverage of the ills created by bottled water, click here and here.) What's more, virgin gold is one of the least sustainable materials in the world—mining it creates vast, polluted landscapes laced with cyanide. A single ounce typically leaves behind 30-tons of ravaged earth. Meanwhile, gold-mining proceeds often go towards funding local warlords. A $60,000 donation to a global-warming charity, huh? How altruistic!

Finally, note that that water corresponds simply to Evian, Fiji, and Icelandic Glacier—bottled waters that are all widely available. Who knows if that's where Altamirano is actually getting his water, but I like to picture him stepping out of his Hummer, walking into the corner store, and buying a couple bottles to to fill-up these monstrosities—and selling them at Karl Lagerfeld's recent "iceberg" fashion show.

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