Vertu, the luxury smartphone maker that
sold customised handsets for thousands of pounds
, has gone bankrupt after amassing debts of £128m.
The British company was known for its extravagant jewel-encrusted Android phones that were assembled by hand here in the UK and could cost up to £39,100.
According to a report by the BBC , up to 200 staff will lose their jobs as a result of the company’s liquidation.
“Well it’s gone into liquidation and I’m not being paid by them any more,” an external spokesperson replied when contacted by the Beeb.
Vertu was bought in March by a Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan, who is currently living in exile in Paris, but he was unable to save the company. Uzan will keep ownership of the brand, technology and design licenses.
Although the phones it produced were technically inferior to the likes of Samsung or Apple (often running older versions of Android with outdated processors) they were notable for the materials used. Hand-stitched ostrich leather and sapphire screens were common features of Vertu handsets.
Apple reportedly looked at using sapphire for the iPhone screen as it is very difficult to scratch – but the US company gave up after realising it would cost too much.
Each Vertu phone was inscribed with the signature of the person that assembled it and shipped with a 24/7 concierge service that customers could use to access exclusive features.
“It is very unusual, they hand make the phone at incredibly low volumes and they were incredibly high-priced,” Ian Fogg, an analyst at IHS Technology, told the BBC.
He said that Vertu faced stiff competition from other companies that offered to modify existing handsets with jewels and precious metals.