Dattatray Phuge’s claim to fame was a Rs 1.27 crore shirt made entirely of 22-carat gold. The gold was sewn on to imported white velvet fabric and the buttons were Swarovski crystals – all weighing 3.5 kg in total.
“I belong to Maratha community and Marathas passion for gold,” he then said quite enthusiastically when media was busy clicking his pictures at Jeweller’s Pimpri showroom.
We don’t know about other Marathas, but this man clearly did. Other than the shirt, he another three kg of ornaments on him -- a necklace, bracelets, rings and a belt, all made of gold.
The shirt was made to order by Pune jewellers Ranka Brothers. It took 15 craftsmen 17 days to make the shirt, which could be folded and stored like those made of fabric alone. The gold is on the outside of the shirt; the inside is soft fabric.
Phuge used to wear the gold shirt on select occasions such as marriage and festivals. When prodded about his show of wealth, Phuge conceded that he “likes to seek people’s attention”.
Asked where he got the money, Phuge, who ran a chit fund, said he sold land and invested most of the money in his firm and the rest on the shirt.
While Phuge’s relatives and friends appeared to enjoy the publicity, the political party he and wife Seema represented -- the Nationalist Congress Party -- had denounced him in 2013.
“Our party does not agree with such blatant show of wealth,” NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade had said.
Phuge had a penchant for gold ornaments since his childhood. Friends and neighbours recalled often seeing Phuge wearing around 6 kg of gold ornaments.