Every Expensive Thing in Fifty Shades of Grey, Explained
As much has been made about the kinky sex in Fifty Shades of Grey, BDSM isn't the only major fetish of the bestselling book series. The other sin is that universal turn-on: money, money, money.
Anastasia Steele’s tortured romance with billionaire Christian Grey is about love, and it’s about all that bondage sex, of course. But we all know that bling can be an aphrodisiac, too. (Christian’s worth, according to Forbes, is estimated to be $2.2 billion.)
The luxury porn starts with Christian’s sleek glass office and continues as little Ana from Savannah hops into a helicopter for their first date. From there, she encounters endless fine suits, high-end watches, museum-quality art, expensive sound equipment, fancy hotels, that fleet of Audis, and of course, high-end bondage gear.
It’s a lot to keep track of, but we've identified every single luxury item we could nail down from director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s film version of the bestselling book series.
The Watches and Accessories
Christian is an Omega man, flashing two models prominently throughout the film, the white-faced Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Chronograph ($7,200) and black-faced Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Co-Axial Chronograph ($26,500). Omega (as opposed to a more rarified niche brand such as Richard Mille) may seem like an odd choice for a billionaire, but I’m chalking that one up to author E.L. James not being a watch connoisseur. (Unlike us). For example, that platinum one Christian gave Ana in the book sequels doesn’t actually exist, according to our expert Stephen Pulvirent. Sorry, ladies.
Those Dunhill silver Knot and Rod cufflinks ($991) in the contract negotiation scene definitely do exist and are just one of the sly details Christian uses to signal his lifestyle (and Academy Award-winning costume designer Mark Bridges picked to amuse the cast). He takes a more straightforward approach with his luxury leather goods—belts, briefcases, travel bags, wallet—all by Yves Saint Laurent (from $375 to $5,975, and then some). Those just say, “I’m classy.”
The body is by “jogging,” the underwear is by “commando,” and the condoms are by Trojan (a telltale glint of gold means Magnums, naturally; box of 26 $19.99). Oh, and Christian’s sex jeans are by a random Canadian “that Erika was very specific on the look of,” according to Bridges—though they looked suspiciously like Diesel to me, ripped and faded and roomy, riding low in all the right ways.
Christian is all about Audi, with a fleet comprising S6, S7, and S8 sedans (from $75,500 to $114,900 and up) and a Q7 crossover SUV (from $48,300), plus tight-lipped livery drivers (their silence, $priceless). But only he gets to drive the v10 R8 Spyder convertible (from $167,000). He even buys Ana a red Audi A3 ($29,990) for her college graduation, selling her vintage Volkswagen Beetle in the process—without asking, of course. (At least he kept it German.)
One word: bespoke. When it comes to business attire, no billionaire is going off-the-rack, least of all Christian Grey. (See: control issues.) There were so many well-cut suits popping up onscreen I thought of negotiating my own Dom/sub contract—with a tailor.
Designer Mark Bridges kept the wool lightweight and Italian, the cuts classic, and the buttons were mainly limited to one. Although actor Jamie Dornan is slender, Bridges didn’t shy away from peaked lapels. He told me Cary Grant and modern international style icons such as David Beckham and David Gandy served as inspiration to get that perfect “clean, classic, young, expensive, and sexy” look. Good quality, classic design is always in style.
Anto Beverly Hills sewed the custom shirts (from $300) and custom silk ties (from $185), including eight of that one grey tie. Shoes are the only thing Bridges hit Rodeo Drive to buy, as production timing didn’t allow custom work by cobblers; one pair is Prada (upwards of $1,500).
The Casual Clothes
Boxers or briefs? Christian doesn’t play that game and instead goes for Zimmerli boxer briefs, a cult Swiss brand at around $100 a pair. When he’s not in a suit, he’s in a well-fit pair of Ralph Lauren jeans ($495) and rough-out boots ($850), thin cashmere sweaters by Malo ($289), and a Dolce & Gabbana black leather jacket (from $4,195). On his gliding date, that jacket gets switched up for a Bottega Veneta windbreaker ($980) and a John Varvatos tee ($198).
Christian isn’t even afraid to get his James Perse sweats ($135) and Wings + Horns hoodie ($195) all dirty when working out in classic Nike kicks. See, he’s a real guy. Just an incredibly expensive version of one, “the hot sort of human,” as Ana's roommate puts it.
Seattle aviation law allows only certain types of helicopters to be used, so while Christian’s Charlie Tango couldn’t be exactly like the book, his Eurocopter EC130’s buttery chestnut brown seats and black Bose noise-canceling headsets are still plenty pimp. (It costs around $3.2 million.) When he surprises Anastasia down in Savannah for a post-breakfast glider ride, that’s a Flugzeugbau DG-1001 sailplane. Like his choice of auto, this two-seater hawk-like stunner is also German, handmade in Bruchsal to the tune of $150,000.
Lest Anastasia feel left out, he gives her some goodies, too, like his definitely-not-Vista-Print business card (we’re thinking more Smythson of Bond Street; from $269) and a first-edition Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (somewhere in the neighborhood of $14,000). One night he whisks her to his room at the Heathman Hotel (from $329 a night) after “rescuing her” from her friends—which would have been relatively romantic had she not been blacked out.
The Wine and Cocktails
If you’re going to drink a lot of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, you’re going to want Bacarrat crystal wine glasses (from $135 each) to drink it out of—although by the shape of some of the stemware, we think we spied a Riedel or two in a scene as well. For bubbles, it’s all about the Bollinger. Christian keeps cocktails classic: a gin and tonic, either with Hendricks and a cucumber or Bombay Sapphire and lime.
“International Contemporary, à la Tom Ford, Lenny Kravitz, and Ron Arad” is how production designer David Wasco and set designer Sandy Wasco described Christian’s personal design sensibility. Translation: rich.
Christian Grey’s penthouse may have been a set, but his home base, Escala, is a real building in Seattle where a three-bedroom penthouse sold for $6.2 million in 2013, according to Zillow. Its windows do actually lord above the skyline.
The Wascos had free range to ratchet up the glamor on the somewhat “Vegas-y” Escala. The key was to make it timeless, like a photograph by Helmut Newton. Imagine a-list architects Richard Meyer and John Pawson, or just take a virtual tour here. Dark woods hint at the Pacific Northwest. That De Gournay of England wallpaper is approximately $12,000 a room. There’s marble everywhere—moody course-grained slabs for the floors and a lighter grey (of course) in a bathroom. That’s a Blu Stone freestanding tub (from $7,150) they get busy in, by the way. Those appliances in the kitchen are a Wolf range (from $1,805) and integrated Sub-Zero fridge (from $7,030), like any self-respecting urbanite. Fresh flowers—orchids—are delivered every three days.
The Interior Design
Like his suits, the living room sofa is custom Italian. Other design-room pieces shout, “I’m moneyed” in a masculine, worldly accent.
The Wascos asked the question, “What would a cultured twentysomething tech billionaire control freak in Seattle actually buy?” The answer is a Symphony Side Board and Avenue Folding Screen by Portuguese designers Boca Do Lobo; and midcentury and Deco styled lighting by Delightfull (the Coltrane, the Ike, and the Turner); plus everything from dramatic mirrors, to bedroom chairs, to avant-garde gilt scones and chandeliers from Koket. All prices on request. (Though if you have to ask ….)
Nodding toward the Pacific Northwest location, Brabbu Design Forces created a redwood and brass side table (price on request) to complement a one-of-a-kind redwood dining room table surrounded by vintage Milo Baughman dining chairs (from $1,198 for reproductions). You can find a similar table on Etsy for $17,355.
And what about that piano? It’s a Fazioli F278 Grand Piano, handmade in Italy over three years using red spruce (from the same forests Stradivarius used), with some parts plated in 18K gold. It cost $268,999. No wonder Christian’s song selections are so serious.
Christian follows the first tenet of art collecting: Buy what moves you.
And what moves him? Womanly figures and wisps of S&M, like the subtly entrapping floral vines of Gary Hume’s Water Painting or the clasped hands in black gloves of his Begging For It. Make what you will of Michael Joo’s Improved Rack (Moose #3), the Chapman Brothers’ Idiotyll VII, Harland Miller’s Plan B, Rodney Graham’s Pine Tree Spanish Banks, Flowers by Georgie Hopton, plus pieces by Gary Aylward (Inside the Reef) and Gerda Lattey and Farik Aldin.
Artwork at his office is where the marquee names really light up.
There’s Ed Ruscha’s Brother, Sister and the giant Picture Without Words (“borrowed” from the Getty Center, no doubt); John Baldessari’s National City; and even a panda by Rob Pruitt. Four photos by Chris Shepherd also grace his office walls. Sensual sculptures include Allan Switzer’s Torso Totem; Peter Millet’s Weeping Woman; and Shattered Sphere by Brent Comber, reminiscent of a Japanese bondage ball.
Who knows how much art, worth millions more, is waiting to rotate in from his collection?
Christian’s stark white marble office is designed to make an impression: floor-to-ceiling windows, vintage French desk topped by Koch & Lowy brass lamp, a potted tree that twists like rope. The lobby is an actual building by Foster + Partners in Vancouver.
A MacBook Air ($1,749 all tricked out) is his computer of choice (handy with all that iMessaging), so it’s no surprise Christian keeps it in the ecosystem with a black iPhone 5s (up to $549). Yep, even billionaires don’t always update. Ironic if it’s because he’s under contract … to his phone company.
The Red Room of Pain
A cheesy sex dungeon this is not. Christian Grey’s playroom is as serious and sensual as he is, with deep red walls, crimson Chesterfield sofa, and four-poster bed with a custom red leather mattress. (There are no sheets here, but Frette-inspired linens were used in the rest of the apartment.)
Director Taylor-Johnson asked for an equestrian feel, meaning brown leather instead of black, with brass hardware like a Hermes saddle. Everything is lined up in its place—silk eye masks, leather floggers, metal shackles, ticklers made from horsehair and peacock feathers—like a tack room in a BDSM barn. The room smells of lemon oil polish.
“This was the hardest thing to develop and carry out, to fit into the world of the penthouse” without making it garish or weird, explained the Wascos. Which means if you want your own high-class playroom, get ready to go bespoke. “It’s virtually handmade.”
There are real leather floor panels, secured by shoe tacks. A honeycomb-like custom brass grid articulates down from the ceiling via the touch of an iPad. (Christian shackles Ana to it.) None of this came cheap. Nor did the handmade sculptural furniture—Tally Ho Chair ($14,600), Detention Chest ($20,000), Study Chair ($10,800)—by British designer Mark Brazier-Jones. Functional for BDSM but at the same time inviting, they're centerpieces that the Wascos built the room around. Brazier-Jones ships around the world from the U.K. with finishes customized to client's preferences (chocolate brown leather here, green velvet there, bronze instead of aluminum) for additional cost.
Like love, you can’t put a price on this setup.