Bangkok’s rich purr through pandemic

As the coronavirus brought the global economy to its knees, Thai businessman Yod decided to buy himself an US$872,000 (RM3.65mil) treat – a lime-green Lamborghini.

Yod picked up the customised Huracan EVO supercar in Bangkok, a city of billionaires with a luxury economy unbroken by the crisis ripping through Thailand’s wider economy.

With tourism and exports in freefall, Thailand’s growth could shrivel by as much as 10% this year, dumping millions into unemployment.

But in a split-screen economy, there are plenty with immunity to the economic scourge caused by Covid-19.

Thailand is home to the ninth most billionaires anywhere, according to the China-based Hurun Report’s Global Rich List 2020.

Among those with deep pockets is Yod, who was undeterred by Thailand’s “crazy” supercar import taxes of up to 80% when he made his March purchase.

“This car makes me feel like David Beckham, ” the genial Bangkok-based petro-chemicals businessman said.

Flashy cars on display: A convoy of Lamborghinis on the highway after leaving a showroom during a Lamborghini Club Thailand event. — AFPFlashy cars on display: A convoy of Lamborghinis on the highway after leaving a showroom during a Lamborghini Club Thailand event. — AFP

“It is a reflection of your success, it doesn’t mean I am better than you, ” he said.

“It’s just that I work hard and play harder.”

Ferrari, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini have all launched top-end models in Bangkok over the pandemic period, cars with price tags of between US$750,000 (RM3.14mil) and US$1.2mil (RM5mil).

Millions of dollars of that cash were on proud display in the capital last week as an eye-catching 40-car convoy from the Thailand Lamborghini Club cut through the city’s knotted traffic for a day trip to a nearby resort.

Lamborghinis “appeal to a very niche audience of high net-worth individuals”, said Matteo Ortenzi, chief executive for Automobili Lamborghini in the Asia-Pacific region.

There has been “continued interest and demand (from Thailand), one of our most important markets in South-East Asia, ” he added.

Signs of the resilience of wealth are dotted across Bangkok.

Houses worth in the millions are selling well, according to real estate agencies, while condos at the super-plush Mandarin Oriental are being snapped up despite the US$14,200 (RM59,400) per sq m price tag.

Entering high society – and staying there – is very much “an aspiration” for many in Bangkok “whether you can afford it or not”, says Naphalai Areesorn, editor-in-chief of fashion and society magazine Tatler Thailand. — AFP

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