How the filthy rich live: A $65,000 LED bed is the norm

At Manhattan's Luxury Technology Show, expensive phones, expensive bedding, cocktail weenies and Grillbot.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read

Watch this: Rich people are paying $15,000 for a phone

No jeans. I wore slacks -- from Banana Republic. Had to bring my A-game if I was going to hobnob in the rarified air of the Luxury Technology Show in Manhattan.

Despite that effort, it quickly dawned on me that Thursday's swank, invite-only bacchanal was no place for a nonrich person like myself, even if I was killing it in $55 gray herringbone pants.

This realization set in the moment I held an alligator-leather Android phone with an aluminum and ceramic chassis, a 24-megapixel camera and "military-grade" security functions, made by Switzerland-based Sirin Labs. Its price tag: up to $18,000.

I snapped a picture of the device with my 2-year-old iPhone 6 (worth about $250 on eBay) and asked Nimrod May, Sirin's chief marketing officer, whether the company offers layaway or a cheaper version for regular Joes.


Nimrod May presenting a phone that's worth as much as a car.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Standing by a wing-doored, black Tesla Model X, he scoffed at my layaway question but added: "We're considering making a less-expensive version of the phone..."

Oh great, I thought.

"...but it would still be a $5,000 to $6,000 price tag."

Time for me to move on.

The show, held at the white-columned, blue-lit Metropolitan Pavilion, offered a rare look at ultrawealthy people's taste in tech, which, unsurprisingly, focused a whole lot on creature comforts and fancy materials.

There was also an unexpected mix of high and low. Plenty of alcohol, suits, high heels and Chanel bags, but the food was warmed-over cocktail weenies and mini spring rolls. Also, by the front were booths from BlackBerry and Grillbot, an adorable $80 contraption that frantically cleans your grill; I wasn't aware either of those brands was luxurious.

Yet, amid the bustle of fur-lined coats and -- wait, is that New York Dolls' Steve Conte playing a guitar over there? -- there was some genuinely extravagant stuff to see and feel ashamed I can never afford.

Swiss-based Stromer showed off a $10,000 electric bike. The model's built-in GPS proved useful, Chris Nolte told me, when that very bike on the floor was stolen from his shop in Brooklyn and cops managed to track it to a hotel room in New Jersey.

There was also a mattress sewn with copper fibers to make for a cooler, cleaner night's sleep, and a $300 "smart pillow" from Rem-Fit that plays music, tracks your sleep and vibrates to stop you from snoring. Apparently rich people are bad sleepers.

Art Powers (yes, that's his awesome name) brought his Planter Speakers, which are exactly what they sound like -- speakers built into outdoor planters -- which cost up to $6,000. He said his most expensive installation clocked out at $65,000 for a 5,000-watt system purchased by a hedge fund guy in Piermont, New York.

I asked for his cheapest stuff and he obliged with a $599 miniplanter that has pretty crummy sound and he doesn't like selling.

"I don't want you to write about it," he added with a smile. "My father thought of it. He's no longer with the company."


The wrinkle-blasting, Viagra-enhancing, euphoria-enabling (results may vary) LightStim LED bed. Only $65,000.

Nic Henry/CNET

As I was getting ready to leave and get back to my drab life and non-alligator-skinned phone, I happened on the show's pièce de résistance.

In a corner, Steve Marchese, CEO of LightStim, presented me with his company's bed that houses 18,240 therapeutic, glowing LED lights. Bathed in the nearby bed's red light, he regaled me with the product's medicinal values. It's been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to treat muscle aches and pains. It helps with arthritic pain, improves the effects of Viagra and promotes blood flow. The facial panels can help reduce wrinkles.

"You get off the bed and feel a conservative euphoria," he tells me. "I get off the bed in the morning and say, 'Shit's going to go right today.'"

I refuse to vouch for any of these claims (read the FDA paperwork if you want), but this guy was a shockingly gifted salesman. I asked how much the whole rig would cost. He said $65,000. For a split second, I wondered if I should figure out a way to buy one. He was that good.

"I'd rather have this than a BMW," Marchese said.

Coming back to Earth, I grimaced and replied: "I can't afford one of those either."

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