Truffle News

The Biggest White Truffles Ever Found.

by 04/11/2019

Every year a handful of remarkable white truffles are found that cause a lot of fuss. Most truffle hunters will feel very lucky to find a truffle weighing over 200 grams, here we are talking about truffles around the kilo mark. These are the real prizes in the world of truffles, where the big money is so naturally all hunters dream of finding buried treasure in the form of a super-size white truffle.

Beautifully coloured, perfectly shaped truffles are all well and good but it is only really size that counts. As the ultimate status symbol a massive truffle is usually not sold through the conventional channels. These mighty truffles often become a news story and then are either sold at auction or given as a gift to a famous person. Through this subtle promotion stunt the white truffle and glamorous celebrity have become indelibly linked in the mind of the public.

Before we look back at some of the record-breaking truffles that have been found over the last 65 years we need to get some perspective with these nice but very average truffles.


Some unimpressive medium-sized white truffles

Now please feast your eyes on this.

Giacomo Morra enjoying the sight and smell of a 2.250 k. tuber magnatum pico

Truffle fans should know this by now: No good white truffle story is complete without the Godfather of the Alba Truffle, Giacomo Morra. Here is the marketing genius back in 1954 with a monstrous truffle which is reported as being 2.250 kilos. This truffle was sent off  to Harry S. Truman no doubt to enjoy over his favourite chicken and dumplings.

‘For dinner I have a fruit cup, steak, a couple of non-fattening vegetables and an ice, orange, pineapple or raspberry. So I maintain my waist line and can wear suits bought in 1935!’ Harry S Truman 1952

Picture courtesy allhands.navy.mil/Media/Archives

The following decade, this morose-looking fellow stumbled across a massive truffle. Unfortunately, white truffles cost a fraction of what they do nowadays, so truffle hunter Gennaro Vicentini was not about to get himself over excited. There is no report of what happened to the truffle but we do know a little about Gennaro. He had been taught the art of truffle hunting by his father Sante (1874 – 1958). Gennaro then passed on the knowledge to his son Mario whose son Alfredo became one of the founding members of the Truffle Academy of the Po Delta.

Back in 1968, truffle hunter Mr. Gennaro Vicentini from the Po Delta was ecstatic to find this giant of a truffle weighing 1.650 k.

A few years previous to the exciting Po Delta discovery, this enormous beast had been found. The truffle made headlines by fetching the massive sum of 65,000 lira.

Stop the press. Massive truffle sells for $104 !

The exchange rate was $1 to 625 lira meaning that this whopping truffle was sold for the not so princely sum of $104. This would be worth around $847 in 2019 which is perhaps why Mr. Vicentini doesn’t look especially enthralled with his enormous truffle.

A man with a plan

It seems that no one was willing to try and top Gennaro’s picture with his 1,650 gram truffle judging by the scant images from the decades which followed. Until in November 1999 that is, when this glorious beast was recorded. Mr. Giancarlo Zigante from Livade, Croatia is the man looking vaguely pleased with himself. Here we see him posing with a 1.31 kg.truffle which he and his dog Diana found in the Motovun forest near Livade. Giancarlo made sure his find was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest white truffle ever found (and recorded) in the world.

The record-holding truffle was christened Millennium and could have sold for a phenomenal price at auction. Instead the truffle ended up as the main ingredient in a fine dinner hosted by Zigante for one hundred special guests. The event attracted much media attention and thus began the promotion of Istrian truffles. Livade established itself as the truffle capital of Croatia and to make it official the Millennium truffle was cast in bronze.

Zigante had the good sense to have this replica made before chowing down on the actual truffle.

Zigante established himself as a businessman, he owns a restaurant, truffle processing plant and a hotel. The bronze truffle replica is exhibited in Giancarlo Zigante’s specialized shop in Livade.

Here he is now.

Zigante relaxing after a hard day of truffle hunting

The Croatian truffle remained in the record books until 2007 when a one and a half kilo truffle (1,497 g.) was found near Pisa by truffle hunter Luciano Savini and his son Cristiano.

 

Cristiano recounts the story of how he, his father and dog Rocco found the truffle

 

How the discovery was reported at the time.

Their impressive find was auctioned and the winning bid was made by Macau tycoon, Mr. Stanley Ho. He shelled out $330,000.

Sadly Stanley Ho had a cold that day and couldn’t attend the 2007 auction so sent his wife to pick up his $330,000 white truffle.

Photo courtesy taipeitimes.com

Stanley Ho features again in 2010 when he bought a matching pair of truffles for more silly money. One was a kilo, the other a measly 400 grams. Once again he paid around $330,000.

In 2014 the seller must have had his fingers crossed Mr. Ho was going to show up at Sotheby’s to bid his casino cash on a massive 1.89 kilo white truffle. It had been bought from an Italian truffle hunter by the company Sabatino Truffles who put it up for sale in New York amidst a great deal of publicity. The time for the auction was set deliberately early (9:15 am on December 6th) in order to include the Asian market. However it seems that Stanley may have had another bad cold that day as the truffle fell $940,000 short of the $1 million that company president Frederico Balestra was hoping for.

The monster truffle sold for a disappointing $61,250

Two years prior to the 2014 ‘Big Boy’ Truffle, a smaller truffle had been discovered in the region of Le Marche. The weight of the Acqualagna truffle was 1.012 kilos and it was decided that this would be presented to Barack Obama who had just been reelected for a second term as President of the USA. The decision making team was comprised of Andrea Pierotti, the mayor of Acqualagna, Oscar Farinetti ,the owner of Eataly and Bruno Urbani of Urbani Truffles . There is no report of whether Obama enjoyed the truffle but it would have paired nicely shaved over one of his favourite burgers.

Biden and Obama enjoying burgers with or without truffles.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

This video has just gone viral. Apparently a couple of pranksters wanted to trick their truffle hunting mates. They find a beast of a truffle which they claim is a kilo and a half. All in all it is a pretty convincing hoax apart from the dog’s indifferent reaction.

 

 

The largest truffle so far this year is this giant. Found near to Acqualagna, it weighs 1143 grams.  Let’s see if it is beaten before the season ends in January 2020!

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