Fact-Checking The Wealth Of Crazy Rich Asians

Before we go any further, there's something you should know. Every single instance of ostentatious, mind-blowing wealth described in Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is based in reality. With his novels, Kwan finally had a creative outlet for the gossip he'd accumulated after years of hearing his Singaporean mother discuss the lives – and spending habits — of her privileged social network. All the books' wild extravagances, like plastic surgery for pet fish, are entirely rooted in these stories.
The Crazy Rich Asians movie adaptation, out August 15, translates the books' opulence into lavish sets, each more over-the-top than the next. Your eyes will feast on the displays of wealth. Your brain will say: "Who lives like this?!" The .01% of Singapore, that's who.
Here are some of the most memorable instances of wealth from Kwan's trilogy, and the reality that inspired them.
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: When we think of occasions for massive parties, we think of weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, baptisms — not necessarily an occasion to watch flowers bloom. But that's just because we haven't met Su Yi, Nick's grandmother. Along with the rest of Singapore's elite, the Young family gathers at Tyersall Park to watch Su Yi's tan hua flowers blossom. Admittedly, it's a special occasion: The flowers on this cactus plant blossom at night only once a year, and die by sunrise.

The Real Life Proof: This legendary flower is called by many different names: Queen of The Night, Nightblooming Cereus, Kadupul tan hua, 9 O'Clock Flower. But a Tan Hua flower by any other name is still as sweet, and as rare, and priceless. The Kadupul's flowers transcend cost, because they'll fade by morning — though you can purchase a plant yourself.
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: The first time we see Astrid Leong (played by Gemma Chan) in the Crazy Rich Asians movie, she's going on a shopping spree in the vault of a luxury jewelry store. She casually walks away with heirloom earrings that cost over $1 million.

The Real Life Proof: Astrid's purchase, when compared to some of the other items in this list, is not so uncommon. The world is full of really, really, ridiculously expensive earrings, like this diamond pair that sold for $57.4 million in 2017. In the books, Astrid's high school sweetheart proposes to her with a 39-carat ring, which is even bigger than Mariah Carey's 35-carat ring. She throws it in the slopes for being "too vulgar."
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: In one of the more outrageous uses of wealth described in the trilogy, one of the characters in Rich People Problems spends $30,000 on plastic surgery for her red arowana fish named Valentino, which cost $200,000. “He was beginning to develop a droopy eye, so we gave him an eye lift. And he even got a very slight chin job,” the fish doctor explains.

The Real Life Proof: This is — brace yourselves — totally and completely real. Earlier this year, the New York Times profiled Eugene Ng, Singapore's premiere cosmetic surgeon for arowana fish. Ng's prices aren't quite as extreme as the surgery in Rich People Problems — eyelifts cost $90 and chin jobs are $60. “I know some people think it’s cruel to the fish. But really I’m doing it a favor. Because now the fish looks better and its owner will love it even more," Ng told the New York Times. In Singapore, these incredibly costly fish are status symbols, as well as reported harbingers of good luck.
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: In the novel Crazy Rich Asians, Eleanor attends Bible Study at Carol Tai's very peculiar house. Carol lives in the "sprawling glass-and-steel structure everyone living along Kheam Hock Road nicknamed the “'Star Trek House.'”

The Real Life Proof: On his Crazy Rich Asians tour, guide Phil Choo always stops by the real Star Trek house, which really does contrast with the rest of the local architecture.
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: Carlton Bao, one of the characters in China Rich Girlfriend, never has to worry about finding a parking spot. He can drive his McLaren F1 right up to his high-rise apartment with a car elevator.

The Real Life Proof: You think central air is an amenity? Luxury buildings located around the world — from Singapore to Miami to New York — boast car elevators for their residents. "For some, it's a gimmick, but for those who live with it, it's probably the most incredible convenience you could wish for," Leonard Steinberg, the Managing Director of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, told Forbes.
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: In Kwan's second novel, China Rich Girlfriend, we meet Colette Bing, the daughter of the third richest man in China. She spends her fortune on extravagances like a private jet converted to resemble a Balinese spa. Colette's desperate to install a pool aboard, too.

The Real Life Proof: The next time you're crammed into a economy seat, close your eyes and pretend you're in Lufthansa's VIP Airbus A350 private jet. In addition to having a private lounge and private bedroom, a guest lounge and guest bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and an office, the jet comes with a wellness area that features a steam bath, massage table, workout and yoga area, and a steam shower suite. “We want the VIP to leave more relaxed than when they entered," Michael Reichenecker, the plane's designer, told Australian Business Traveler. These planes are made-to-order, and take about two years to complete.
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The Crazy Rich Asians Claim: In the book Crazy Rich Asians, Nick's cousin Eddie Chieng is searingly jealous of his friend, Leo, whose walk-in closet is affixed with a smart mirror that makes fashion far more organized. “There’s a camera embedded in this mirror that takes a picture of you and stores it, so you can see every single thing you’ve ever worn, organized by date and place. This way you’ll never repeat an outfit!" Leo exclaims.

The Real Life Proof: Smart mirrors, like the one in Leo's closet, are typically deployed in luxury stores. In January, Amazon patented its own augmented reality mirror. Soon, we might all be Leos.

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