Giant truffle a steal at $81k?
CONSIDER it a bargain: The world's largest white truffle was sold at an auction on Saturday for US$61,250 (S$81,000) - far less than the US$1 million its owner had reportedly hoped for.
The White Alba's truffle weighed 1.89kg when unearthed last week in the Umbrian region of Italy, making it by far the largest ever found.
Sotheby's said it was purchased by a gourmand from Taiwan, who had placed his winning bid by telephone.
Bidding started at US$50,000 for the record-breaking fungus.
It was owned by the Balestra family of Sabatino Truffles, whose chief executive told the New Haven Register newspaper last week that he hoped it would fetch seven figures.
"I told everybody I wanted a million dollars," said Federico Balestra, telling the newspaper that a Sabatino employee in Italy "was hunting truffles for us and found the truffle".
Mr Balestra added that the massive fungus - slightly smaller than an American football - was large enough "to feed a party for 300 to 400 truffle diners".
Long after the dinner plates are cleared away, the Balestra truffle is expected to enjoy immortality as an entry in next year's edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
Reports say this new record holder was about twice the size of the previous champion.
Nevertheless, the dethroned white truffle fetched far more when it was sold in 2010 - some US$417,200, according to Sotheby's.
The auction house said the Balestra family plans to donate proceeds from the auction to a number of charities.