21 June, 2021

Gazing At The Crystal King

Gope Hathiramani carves out a success story in his crystal business on the Rue de Rivoli

Gazing At The Crystal King

MAY 13, 1998. Two American women step into a leading crystal shop at Rue de Rivoli, a prestigious address in posh Paris; ask the owner if they can block his shop for about half-an-hour. Thinking it a joke, he plays along.

Till a dozen police cars surround his shop and cops begin to comb his shop with sensors. Within 10 minutes, Gope Hathiramani is to welcome his most important customer, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In town for a visit, the US First Lady wants to shop for crystalware, chooses Cristal Vendome, Hathiramani's shop. And though she buys goods only worth about $600, the event is displayed in frames all around the shop, etched deeply in Hathiramani's memory.

At first glance, theres nothing remarkable about 59-year-old Hathiramani. A Sindhi businessman, he looks just that. Medium build, rather short and with a round face, it's his incisive brain that makes the man one of the few success stories in the small Indian community in France. His six crystal and souvenir shops have a turnover in excess of 32 million francs; the man himself is worth over 100 million French...

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