Businessman Datta Phuge's wife Seema is happy that her husband's gold shirt has made him famous. His shirt made of 3.5 kg of 22 carat gold has hit the headlines internationally. The 32-year-old Datta, a "financial consultant" based in Bhosari in Pune had commissioned family friend Ranka Jewellers to design the shirt last year, along with accessories such as bracelets and a gold belt.
The shirt has 14,000 gold flowerings that have been woven with 100,000 spangles and sown to a base of white velvet. Six Swarovski buttons adorn the front of the shirt. 15 goldsmiths worked for nearly a fortnight for 18 hours a day to create this shirt.
The idea, according to Seema, struck when the family was sitting at the jewellery store discussing the ways to put to use the ancestral gold lying for decades in their home locker.
"We had lots of gold in the form of chains and rings in all sizes. It was kind of boring to keep wearing them again and again. Since my husband too is fond of wearing gold jewellery, I decided that we should design something for him for a change," says Seema, who is a Nationalist Congress Party corporator. She says that she has enough necklaces of her own to think of getting a new one. Besides the fear of getting robbed too was an issue.
Seema says that they did not do this to seek publicity. They did not tell anyone about the shirt initially. The jewellery store exhibited it at their store last month and invited the media to have a look at it. But now that attention has come, both wife and husband are enjoying it. "We are ordinary people with no royal connections, but this shirt has made us even more sought after than royals and we are enjoying it," she says. She is unhappy that her husband is being compared with her former political colleague from Pune, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA Ramesh Wanjale who too was known as the Gold Man for his gold chains and rings. Wanjale, who died last year, used to go for political campaigns wearing gold chains weighing over 5 kg.
Datta points out that it is he who is the "Gold Man" now. "I am a financial consultant by profession and whatever I attempt to do is done aimed at investment. This shirt is also an investment for me. I spent Rs 1 crore 27 lakh last year to get this shirt made. Today its market value is more than that and still growing," he says.
"People are coming from Karnataka, Canada and many countries and queuing up outside my house to see the shirt. I am enjoying it," he continues.
"The locals call me Sona Man. They believe I have the Midas touch and ask me to visit and bless their houses," he says adding that for now he has no plans of making any new gold accessory.
The shirt is currently in a safe in his house guarded by his personal security guards. He declines that he is planning a museum to keep the shirt unlike reported in press reports.