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You know you're in bad debt trouble if ...

Most of us have made some expensive blunders. You know the type. Like the time you bought the DVD home entertainment system at nearly twice what you should've paid, just because you had to be the first to own one. And to make matters worse, you put it on your Visa and are still paying it off at 22.2 percent. Or, to impress your family, you sprung for the holiday dinner at a fancy club and there's no way you can pay it off this month or even next.

Cheer up. It could be worse. What if this happened to you?

  • After getting drunk on a bottle of 1787 Chateau d'Yquem Sauternes ($56,000 to $64,000 per bottle), you find yourself at Sotheby's, London bidding on Spice Girl Geri Halliwell's sparkling Union Jack costume, which fetched $66,112 on the auction block in 1998. To make matters worse, under the guise of consoling yourself for your foolishly trendy purchase, artist Christo Javacheff convinces you to fund his new project. Christo's 1991 land-art project "Umbrellas" cost $23 million.

  • You're sitting across the poker table from Kirk Kerkorian, whose net worth is around $5.8 billion, more than half of it from gaming. But you're feeling lucky because Kerry Packer joins the game. Packer, whose net worth is $2.5 billion, reportedly lost $30 million in the Las Vegas casino Bellagio in September 2001.

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  • While helping your reclusive neighbor clean out his garage, you uncover an interesting painting just before knocking over an open bottle of turpentine, which splashes all over the canvas. You stammer, "I'm so sorry. I'll pay you for whatever it was worth." Turns out it was Van Gogh's missing masterpiece "Portrait of Doctor Gachet." The last owner of the Van Gogh, Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito, said he would have it cremated and buried with him when he died. Saito died in 1996 -- and the painting was nowhere to be found. The painting sold for $82.5 million at Christie's, New York in 1990.

  • In a moment of fashion insanity, you use your credit card for a shopping free-for-all in the most expensive clothing store in the world, Bijan, at 420 Rodeo Drive. Prices range from $50 for a pair of socks to $15,000 for suits. The situation is worse if you drive there in the car you bought in an equally insane moment of vehicle passion, a Rolls-Royce Corniche (base cost -- $363,990).

  • You tell your sweetheart to pick a restaurant for dinner -- your treat. Your love chooses Petrus in London, where in 2001 (according to "The Guinness Book of World Records") the most expensive meal ever ordered was purchased. The meal, which totaled $62,138, included five bottles of wine -- a 1947 Chateau Petrus vintage claret worth $17,368, a 1945 Chateau Petrus for $16,379, a 1946 Chateau Petrus for $13,273, a 1900 Chateau d'Yquem dessert wine for $12,990 and 1982 bottle of Montrachet for $1,977. The $424 in food was taken off the bill, but the $151 for water, juice, cigarettes and six glasses of champagne was not.

  • Your travel agent mixed up your reservation for your Bahamas getaway. Instead of a double bed at the Ramada, you have the 10-room Bridge Suite at the Royal Towers of Atlantis. Everything else is booked solid, so you give the OK without asking the price. The suite, which includes two entertainment centers, a bar lounge, a baby-grand piano and a 22-karat-gold chandelier is $25,000 a night.

  • You hire jeweler Lam Sai-wing to decorate your home and ask him to keep it simple. He thinks you say "simply fabulous." Sai-wing begins the makeover in your bathroom by installing his signature gold toilet and continues to construct one of his famous golden washrooms. This includes adorning the ceiling with ruby, sapphire, emerald and amber. Final cost for your pricey potty: $3.5 million.

  • Thinking they're your old Levi's, you mistakenly throw your roommate's Gucci Genius jeans in the giveaway bag to Goodwill. Turns out she picked them up in Milan, Italy at their debut in 1998 for $3,134. What's worse, in the pocket of the jeans was her Patek Phillipe watch, originally created in 1933 for New York financier Henry Graves Jr. The gold watch generates 24 types of information -- one of which is an accurate depiction of the stars and phases of the moon over New York City. The final price when it was auctioned in 1999: $11 million. You're too nauseated to tell her that while you were cleaning up this morning, you accidentally broke her bottle of Parfum VI, worth $71,380.

  • While on a tour of Washington landmarks, you pause on the lawn of Bill Gates' massive estate to light your cigarette. But you trip, drop your match, and burn the whole place down. Gates' home on Lake Washington is reported by Forbes to have "a stream, stocked with fish, that runs through it; a trampoline room; a pool with underwater speakers; a ballroom; and a maple tree that is computer monitored 24 hours a day." According to Forbes, it is rumored to have cost $100 million.

And, you thought you went overboard with your holiday purchases?

-- Posted: Jan. 9, 2003

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