A few months ago, iconic British phone manufacturer Vertu announced that it would enter liquidation after encountering financial difficulties. Now, it’s auctioning the contents of its UK factory, giving the world a window into tech’s most extravagant phone brand.
— Ben Wood (@benwood) August 10, 2017
Most people never owned a Vertu handset — the cheapest models typically cost several thousands, making them exclusively the preserve of the ultra-wealthy. The Vertu Signiature Touch, for example, started at £7,500 (roughly $10,000).
Amusingly, in 2014, Vertu launched a ‘budget’ line. The Vertu Aster cost ‘just’ £4,500 (roughly $6,000). While significantly cheaper than its stablemates, it was way more expensive than anything the average smartphone buyer could afford.
But now, with the company’s assets on the auction block, you can pick up a Vertu phone for a (relative) bargain. One of its Signature brand feature phones, which comes encased in 18 karat gold and black alligator leather and originally retailed for £14,700 ($19,000), currently has bids in the £1,150 mark ($1,500).
The liquidators have also listed the company’s phone museum, which contains 105 iconic Vertu phones from the company’s long history. Some of these are concept devices, while others are fully-working models. The opening bid for this is £20,000 ($26,000).
Other collectibles under the hammer are a little more left-field.
The most unusual thing I found in the auction is a large bronze statue of horse-mounted soldier, holding the Vertu logo like a weapon. At the time of writing, the current bid for that is £775 (roughly $1,000).
And if you’re so inclined get into the handset market, you can also pick up some phone manufacturing gear, including workbenches and programming systems.
It’s a staggering fall from grace for Vertu. This was a brand that once saw its phones flogged in the most extravagant of boutiques, like London’s Harrods. Now its assets are sold to the highest bidder at an online auction for a fraction of their retail cost.
I feel sad for them. As a Brit, it’s bitterly sad to see our only domestic phone manufacturer collapse in such a way. And most of all, I’m sad for the nearly 200 people who have lost their jobs.
If you want to get yourself a piece of tech history, hurry: depending on the item, bidding concludes either today, or tomorrow.
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