Or it could be yet another ironic postmodern art piece that purports to critique commodity culture and that's being sold to wealthy collectors... Top that Jeff Koons. (Also Kate Spade Store.)
"Images of Mohandas K. Gandhi, father of modern India and icon of asceticism and nonviolence, have ended up in some unlikely places before, from ads selling Apple computers to counter-culture T-shirts. But it's fair to say that the latest incarnation may be the most ironic: Gandhi, in his signature loincloth, hawking a $23,000 fountain pen named in his honor.
The Montblanc pen, unveiled for the celebration of what would have been Gandhi's 140th birthday on Friday, has prompted howls from Hindu groups and Gandhists who say the sticker price is the lifetime income of many of India's poor. The limited-edition fountain pen in 18-carat solid gold is engraved with Gandhi's image and tricked out with a saffron-colored mandarin garnet on the clip and a rhodium-plated nib. ... A billboard put up this week over Mumbai's teeming slums shows a gaunt Gandhi next to next to an image of the swanky pen, with golden threads woven around it to represent Gandhi's spinning wheel."
From: "Montblanc's Gandhi Pen Causes Howls in India" by Emily Wax, Washington Post Foreign Service, 10.02.09.