Guinness World Records recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, and among the weird and wonderful records that have been set over the years, quite a few involve the topic that’s always on our minds: money.
Find out the world’s most expensive grilled cheese, the longest anyone ever collected a retirement pension, the wealthiest feline in history and more…
Biggest Piggy Bank
Last May, the world’s biggest piggy bank—a bright red oinker made of fiberglass and reinforced plastic, measuring 18 feet high and 26 feet long and weighing 7 tons—was installed outside a real bank in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Some ceremonial money was dropped via crane into the piggy bank at the opening, but the oversized hog’s purpose is that of an exhibition teaching visitors about money. (It also generates publicity for the bank too, of course.) Visitors get to actually go inside the belly of the bank, where they review an exhibition about the history and importance of money and perhaps make multiple jokes about pork, bringing home the bacon, and “eating like a pig,” before exiting via slide. It’s open until the end of October, after which we assume it goes to hog heaven.
Longest Retirement Pension
Habib Miyan in 2007, when various reports say he was 127 or 138 years old.
The average age of retirement in the U.S. is 62 for women and 64 for men, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Life expectancy in the U.S., meanwhile, is roughly 81 years for women and 76 for men. So Americans can typically enjoy 10 to 20 years or so of the benefits of retirement. A man from India named Habib Miyan is the envy of anyone seeking to enjoy an extended steady income stream well into one’s golden years. He started collecting a pension in 1938, after retiring as an employee of the state of Jaipur, and kept collecting for eight decades, until he died in 2008. Miyan said that he was born in 1869, though other records say he was born in 1878. Depending on who you believe, he could have been nearly 80 when he retired and almost 140 years old when he passed away. In 2003, the BBC reported that Miyan was collecting the equivalent of $40 per month from his pension.
Highest Denomination Banknote
In 2010, the price of a loaf of bread was around $300 billion—in Zimbabwe, using the local currency. The exorbitant state of inflation in the country caused the need for the issuing in 2008 of a $100 billion note, which remains named as the Guinness record holder of the world’s highest denomination banknote despite the subsequent introduction of a $100 trillion (a 1 with 14 zeroes) bill. These days, collectors can find plenty of Zimbabwe currency sold on eBay; a pack of 100 $5 billion Zimbabwe banknotes might cost you $40 or so in U.S. cash.
Most Expensive Grilled Cheese
Serendipity 3 Quintessential Grilled Cheese Sandwich
There is a whole series of Most Expensive Food Items that seem to have been created not to net sales but with the express purpose of snagging the world title for Most Expensive Dessert, Most Expensive Pizza, or Most Expensive Soup. (They cost $25,000, $178, and $190, respectively.) We suppose there will be an odd big-spending customer here or there who orders one out of curiosity of the compulsion to show off, but these items are mostly about publicity, not profits. Manhattan’s Serendipity 3 restaurant has made a habit of creating such items, with the world’s Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae, Most Expensive Burger, and, most recently, the Most Expensive Sandwich—which is a grilled cheese made with Dom Perignon champagne, edible gold flakes, and white truffle butter. It sells for $214.
When a wealthy British antiques dealer named Ben Rea died in 1988, his estate was worth nearly $13 million. His family never saw any of the money. Instead, the lion’s share of the fortune was bequeathed to Blackie, his beloved kitty, who still holds the crown of the world’s Wealthiest Cat. Blackie was actually one of 15 cats that lived in Rea’s mansion and kept him company, and the only one still alive when the old man breathed the last breath of his (ninth?) life. If you’re curious about which dog is the world’s richest ever, the consensus has it that it’s Gunther IV, who inherited a fortune now worth $372 million from Countess Karlotta Libenstein of Germany.
Largest Human Currency Symbol
Last June, a money transfer company called Transferwise gathered 351 of its employees on a field in Estonia to break the old record (327) for creating the world’s Largest Human Currency Symbol. It was a euro, and all of the humans wore dark shirts and white hats to make the oversized symbol “pop.” Unfortunately for some investors, the value of the euro has been popping as well lately.
Most Expensive Lunch Date
At a charity auction in 2008, a Hong Kong investor named Zhao Danyang paid $2.1 million to have lunch with a very special man. Who could be worth that much to break bread with? None other than the Oracle of Omaha himself, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. As crazy as that sounds, it’s a relative bargain compared to the $3.5 million an anonymous winner paid at auction for another lunch in 2012—again, with Warren Buffett as the prized “date.”
Craziest Coin Tricks
A pyramid made of 1,000,935 Lithuanian cents, in Vilnius, Lithuania.
How many coins do you think you could stack into a tower in 60 seconds? Perhaps a couple dozen tops? You’d have to stack 70—at a pace of more than one per second—to break the current record (69), set this past summer in Italy. For that matter, coins are incorporated into all sorts of weird and wacky records, including most coin rolls in one minute (53), longest-lasting coin spin (25.71 seconds), farthest distance to blow a coin (over 16 feet), and largest coin pyramid. The latter, built with more than 1 million coins, is part of the Money Museum of the Bank of Lithuania, which sounds pretty boring but has a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor.
Largest Daily Trading Volume
Guinness lists January 7, 2000, as the day of the biggest trade volume for a single stock—136,846,600 shares of Lucent Technology. This record appears to be out of date, however, as subsequent sell-offs of Tyco and Enron have topped it.
Biggest Bank Heist
Thieves spent three months digging under a city street to break into a Brazilian bank in 2005.
There are many records that a sane person wouldn’t ever try to break—Oldest Bungee Jumper, Longest Skidmarks in a car, or Most Insects Tattooed on the Body. Stunts involving crimes surely also belong in the category of inadvisable records to attempt to break. Guinness recognizes a 2005 heist in Brazil as the “Greatest” Robbery of a Bank of all time. Apparently, the gang of robbers dug a 250-foot-long tunnel below the street, then spent a weekend breaking through a steel-reinforced bank vault, and made away with 164,755,150 Brazilian reals, the equivalent of around $70 million at the time—without ever using a gun. Within a year of the robbery, 13 suspects had been arrested and another suspect was kidnapped and murdered. The vast majority of the stolen cash has still not been recovered.
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