WHAT have two Spanish olive trees, Beyonce, British royals, a private jet and a 27 storey home worth €2.3 billion got in common?
The answer is Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, whose estimated worth is a staggering €90 billion.
The boss of Reliance Industries – a conglomerate with interests from energy and petrochemicals to retail and media – is known for his expensive tastes where nothing but the best will do.
For his daughter Isha’s 2018 wedding the main attraction (apart from the bride of course) was superstar Beyonce.
He refuses to fly other than in his own personal private jet and rattles around in his grand 27 storey home in Mumbai. He also moves in the highest levels of society, and welcomed Prince Charles and Camilla on a visit to Mumbai.
So when Ambani decided that he wanted two ‘lucky’ olive trees for his landscaped garden at his Jamnagar (Gujarat) estate, no expense was to be spared.
Although they are not generally grown in India, olives are regarded as lucky in some of the local cultures, largely due to their long life spans which can be well over 1,000 years.
Some nurseries in India have noted an increase in demand for saplings as their reputation for luck has spread.
But Ambani was not prepared to wait for a sapling to reach maturity – when he wants something he wants it now and he has the money to pay for it!
So he sent to Spain for two fine specimens, thought to be between 170 and 200-years-old and had them shipped to India at a total cost of €105,000.
But even then he had to wait before the trees could be planted at his estate.
They were first carefully tended by a team of six gardeners at a nursery in Andhra Pradesh for two years to make sure they were acclimated.
The team monitored soil health and made sure growth targets were met, as well as ensuring the carefully chosen trees maintained the desired shape.
Then they were carefully loaded onto a truck, which could not travel at more than 30 kph for fear of damaging the precious cargo.
The 1,800 kilometre journey to Jamnagar took five days.
But now they have taken pride of place in Ambani’s landscaped gardens – with their proud owner hoping they bring him luck.