The case of the unwanted iPad

The case of the unwanted iPad

Felipe Florez has just spent more than Dh20,000 on a one-of-a-kind golden iPad — and he doesn’t even want it.

By Amanda Fisher

Published: Tue 30 Oct 2012, 8:51 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:35 PM

The Dubai-based financial head of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, said he already had an iPad and did not know what he would do with the prize, after he made the winning bid in an auction organised as part of the Burj Al Arab’s month-long Breast Cancer Awareness fund-raising campaign.

“Everybody has an iPad, so it’s never really been about the iPad.”

Florez said he decided to make a bid after he got an email from the hotel alerting him to the unique rose gold iPad auction, as it was a cause close to his heart, both personally and professionally.

There are three cancer survivors — including his mother — in his family, while his grandfather died from brain cancer, and Novartis only manufactures cancer drugs.

“When my mother was diagnosed, I was only 10 years old, and I didn’t know what was happening.”

He said surviving cancer was a life-changing experience, not just for the survivors.

“It changes everything, if I look at my mother, she’s a different person, she kind of got a second chance. And it also change the whole family.”

While Florez would not reveal the exact amount he spent on the shimmering piece of technology, which is the latest version of Apple’s continuously updated iPad, he said he was prepared to spend more, expecting to be outbid — but that never happened.

“I was surprised there was no competition, to be honest...I had my bid here, but...I was waiting to go in and bid (higher). Being in Dubai I would have expected more people (to bid).”

He said he hoped residents with disposable income would contribute more.

“Maybe a lot of us are giving, but we give back where we come from. But this is also where we live.”

Florez’s partner Barbara van Ulden, whose own aunt died from cancer when van Ulden was a child, said she was not surprised when Florez informed her about his bid, as he often made similar gestures.

Florez, of both Columbian and American extraction, said ever since he began his working career he had made donations to causes in both places every year, but since he had been living in Dubai for the past three years he wanted to make a contribution here too.

Hotel general manager Heinrich Morio said the hotel had been supporting breast cancer for years, aiming to use its popularity to highlight the cause, which still claimed unnecessary victims that were diagnosed too late.

The auction was not the only way the hotel was getting behind the cause, also serving up pink food and drinks, with half the proceeds going to the campaign — “(And) a pink tie for the general manager.”

Florez said he was open to suggestions for what to do with the iPad — including a possible charitable purpose.

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