For the most part I'm sitting out the 2005s. Certainly no Firsts for me, as a matter of fact none of the Second Growths that have historically been my futures purchases, either. Just too damn expensive. All I bought were a couple of well-priced petit chateaux, 6 bottles of du Tertre, a few bottles of Beausejour-Duffau, and a case of Rouget in halves (a smaller than average upcharge made it worth it to me, it's hard to find 375s on release, and I like for dinners alone).
I think the prices are shocking. Still, whether they hold up depends on a variety of things:
1) For US customers, the dollar.
2) The general economy (worldwide and each nation). The actual economic situation will of course affect prices of any luxury goods, but consumer confidence will make a huge difference also.
3) Emerging markets - Asia and Eastern Europe. I don't think this is as big a factor as some others do, but there is a lot of wealth being generated in areas where Bordeaux consumption is historically low. So far most new Chinese millionaires aren't interested in Western wine, but if only 0.1% of the Asian nouveau riche did get interested, that would be substantial. And it doesn't matter whether they are investors, true wine geeks, status seekers (with or without Coca-Cola)- demand drives prices.
4) Expanding markets. While some young Europeans might be getting away from drinking wine, more and more Americans are getting into it. And that's particularly true of the young lawyers, investment bankers, tech hotshots who make the big bucks. They might not be geeks, but they're the type who hear "vintage X is a great vintage in Bordeaux", and go buy a couple cases.
5) Scores, especially of course Parker.
6) The next vintages. If a lot of good/great vintages follow, will lessen the rush for 2005s.
I think anyone who says "prices will do X" is overly confident- just too many factors to be certain.
But I've decided that I can live without this vintage (for the most part). If prices stay the same I'll probably try to pick up some cru bourgeois, lesser St. Emilions, or 5th growths on release after I taste them.
As to what one buys instead, that's of course individual choices. I'm sure your friend has tried these wines and liked in past. But for those (not me) who only want "the best", most of those wines wouldn't cut it. They probably wouldn't bother with the '55 la Gaffeliere. Even on those rare occasions I really splurge, I wouldn't spend what he probaby did on the '75 Cheval, as I think the '79 & '81 are at least as good and less $(and the '83 & '85 aren't much more). Some would say "'64 is better on Right." Etc. This isn't an attempt to disparage his choices (my guess is some awful good drinking there), but just to point out that we all have individual reasons for our buying choices.
As to whether people will actually drink their wine, there are always speculators. But every person I know who has bought 2005s (and admittedly, only two friends have said they bought any Firsts) is doing it so they can drink them. They already have plenty of mature wine, and plan on drinking them in 20+.