I can't say I wouldn't drop $1K. Just under 2 years ago I bought my GT-I9100 in Norway at a retailer that had it in stock. Price in NOK to USD converted to about $1K for it. Granted, no US carries had the phone for another 3-4 months, and none of the US carrier's versions have had the same level of "unofficial" support as the GT-I9100.
Also, some other benefits that really make it more cost effective for me to get it this way rather than from my carrier was... Carrier not moving me to smartphone data rate plan, so I've saved over $800 to date with my current data plan that is unlimited. In the end once you consider that phone cost $200 carrier with 2-year contract and the data rate different I came out ahead getting the phone at $1k and I did all the math up front before just buying it. The only gamble was would my carrier figure out what phone it is, so far my account just indicates it doesn't know my device model.