Pliny the Elder says that Cleopatra made a bet with Marc Antony that she could spend the equivalent of two million dollars on a single banquet. Cleopatra won the bet when she dissolved her huge pearl earring in a tumbler of very strong vinegar. The pearl was one of the largest in the world and very, very valuable. She was about to dunk the other earring when the referee called a halt, declaring her the winner. Scientists have subsequently proven that pearls do not dissolve in vinegar. Nonetheless, the story does stand as a testimony to Cleo’s profligate ways and theatricality.