Gold-plated smartphone raises cash for Cecil the Lion's home

Goldgenie, a company known for blinging up tech devices, offers a golden HTC One M9 to raise funds for Cecil the Lion's national park in Zimbabwe.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Gold Cecil HTC One
This is a Cecil the Lion tribute phone. Goldgenie

UK company Goldgenie is dedicated to creating outrageous luxury items like gold-plated electric uniwheels, diamond-bedazzled iPhones and $164,000 Apple Watches. Now it's going gold for a good cause by offering a special-edition HTC One M9 smartphone. It's coated in 24-karat gold, of course, but it also has an engraved portrait of Cecil the Lion on the back, along with the inscription "For Cecil and his Kingdom."

Cecil the Lion became a major news focus over the past week when it was discovered the celebrity big cat had been lured out of his sanctuary and killed by a hunter. This prompted an Internet hunt of its own, leading sleuths to track down Minnesota dentist and recreational big-game hunter Walter Palmer as the alleged culprit.

The pricing for the phone doesn't reach the heady heights of some of Goldgenie's offerings, but it will set you back around $2,470 (£1,580.83, about AU$3,380). A 10 percent slice of every sale will be donated to the Friends of Hwange Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, the place Cecil called home.

"This Limited Edition 24k Gold Cecil the Lion HTC One M9 is a state-of-the-art smartphone that will serve as a reminder of the beauty of nature's wildlife and the importance of conserving it," Goldgenie writes in the product description. Only 99 of the fancy smartphones will be made.

If you were planning to buy a blinged-out HTC smartphone anyway, then the Cecil version will at least make you feel more charitable about your luxury purchase.