No sign of recession at pre-Oscar gift suites

Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:03pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Not everyone nominated for an Academy Award will take home an Oscar on Sunday, but even the losers don't have to go home empty handed.

Lavish spa vacations, diamond jewels, plastic surgery treatments and expensive watches are just some of the products available at gift suites set up in hotels for Academy Award nominees, presenters and selected VIPs.

There was no sign of a global economic crisis at GBK 'Circus of the Senses' gift suite where invited guests can receive "more than $35,000 in gifted luxury," according to the company.

Gavin Keilly, the head of GBK luxury lifestyle gift suites and special events company, admitted that some may see it as just the rich getting richer. But he said for companies promoting their products, it is great value.

Keilly said that 20 percent of the proceeds are going to four charities and celebrities can also donate their gift bag to their favorite charity.

"The spin ... is that the celebrity actually could go around, pick up one of everything and then give it to the charity of their choice," Keilly said in an interview.

"They won't be taxed on it and now they are doing their part about really making a difference and helping out a good cause, just for a few minutes of their time," he added.

GBK has arranged a gift room to represent each of the five movies nominated for the best film award -- "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire," "Milk," "Frost/Nixon," and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."   Continued...

<p>An Oscar statue wrapped in plastic stands at the red carpet arrivals area in preparation for the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood February 19, 2009. The Oscars will be presented February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Redmond</p>