The idea that the internet could be used as a large-scale auction marketplace was an idea implemented by Pierre Imidyar in 1995. He started eBay on his living room couch. Now, the business is one of the largest marketplaces on Earth, helping to develop a fledgling e-commerce market into a worldwide behemoth in the span of 20 years.
Now, eBay is responsible for billions of dollars of transactions every year, ranging from mundane collectibles to high value consumer goods that satisfy the desires of the well-heeled. Some of the auctions that take place on eBay involve sales of the strange and wacky, such as an auction for ownership of another person’s life.
It didn’t take long for eBay to become big enough to host the sales of truly elite items, gathering bids in the millions of dollars. The ubiquity of eBay on the internet connected all the way to the most wealthy, who have thrown millions at incredible one-of-a-kind items that can’t be found anywhere else. The following 15 eBay auctions are the most expensive items sold or listed on the website, ranging from antique collectibles to advanced military hardware capable of destroying entire city blocks with a flick of the wrist.
15. Honus Wagner – $1.265 million
Honus Wagner was one of the original greats of baseball, lauded for his amazing hitting and fielding skills. A cigarette company decided to issue a series of cards in 1909, including his image inside packs of cigarettes. He objected to being included in the series without his permission, resulting in most of his cards being pulled from the collection.
Due to this recall, the 1909 Honus Wagner became a rare commodity, resulting in a huge eBay sale of nearly $1.27 million – $1.1 million for the card plus a 15 percent buyer’s fee. This was a record amount for a baseball card in 2000.
14. World’s Largest Lunchbox Collection – $1.7 million
For those who want to instantly become a Guinness world record holder, a man who calls himself the Lunchbox Kid has an auction that’s right up their alley. For a paltry $1.7 million, the world’s largest collection of lunchboxes can be yours, including a haul of more than 675 lunchboxes and thermoses.
This auction awards the buyer this incredible collection, which includes lunchboxes from 1950s with celebrity signatures, among other esoteric collectibles. Perhaps this collection will be purchased by Altus Viljoen and Wilgen, record-holder for the largest lunchbox in the world, which would allow them to corner the market for lunchbox world records.
13. Atlas F Missile Base – $2.1 million
This relic of the cold war was built to survive any nuke that’s tossed at it. Located in the Adirondack State Park in the state of New York, this former missile base is located close to Lower Saranac Lake, where Mark Twain sometimes spent his summers. Prior to its listing on eBay, the Atlas F missile base used to contain missiles that could devastate targets thousands of miles away.
In order to fetch a better price for this rare type of property, the sellers focused on the fact that the base is the perfect solution considering the “escalating threat of world terrorism and an increasing need for security.” The property was sold to an anonymous couple for $2.1 million in 2002.
12. The Farm – $2.4 million
The Atlas F Missile base isn’t the only interesting luxury property listed on eBay. Those who are interested in slowing down their lives and enjoying a more natural setting can place a bid on “The Farm”, a location that was put up on the digital auction block.
This particular property is a massive piece of real estate that stretches over an area that’s larger than 40 acres. The main compound is a huge home thats more than 10,000 square feet, giving the owner plenty of space. The property is a bed and breakfast located in Ithaca and was built in 2003. An asking price of $2.4 million was originally listed on the auction site.
11. Albert, Texas – $2.5 million
One of the more successful eBay success stories was written by Bobby Cave, an insurance broker who bought the tiny town of Albert, Texas – population of only five residents – for the low, low price of $216,000. After purchasing the town in 2004 on eBay, he pumped about half-a-million dollars into his new investment to make it more attractive to potential buyers.
Three years later, he put Albert up for auction on eBay again. This time, the bids ended up landing in the millions. The new owner won the auction for $2.5 million, netting Bobby more than a million dollars in profit.
10. Lunch With Warren Buffet – $2.63 million
One of the richest men in the world is also one of the biggest philanthropists as well, raising ridiculous amounts of money for charitable causes as he rakes in the money with Berkshire Hathaway. In order to raise money for the Glide Foundation, an organization located in San Francisco, he decided to auction himself off to the highest bidder.
The winner would get to have an exclusive lunch with Warren Buffet at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. This auction ended up raising $2.63 million through a winning bid placed by an anonymous benefactor who brought seven of his buddies to have lunch with Buffet.
9. Albert Einstein’s “God Letter” – $3 million
Albert Einstein was one of the few scientists to ever inspire a rockstar-style following, making him one of the most popular public figures of the past century. His theories and discoveries ended up helping humanity bring in a new technological and scientific era.
In addition to being one of the greatest scientific minds in the history of humankind, Einstein was a keen philosopher in terms of his opinions about religion. In 2012, a letter that he wrote including atheist opinions was sold on eBay for $3 million. Originally, the seller purchased this historic letter for only $404,000 in 2008, netting a terrific profit.
8. Action Comics #1 – $3.2 million
Action Comics #1 is the Hope Diamond of comic books – in term of monetary value, not beauty. This comic consisted of a collection of short comic book stories and included the first appearance of Superman.
The creators of this comic book legend, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, cut their original Superman story into a 13-page mini-strip about the origins of the Kryptonian hero. Originally, this comic sold for ten pennies in 1938.
Now that Superman is perhaps the most recognizable superhero on the planet, the fact that about 100 copies of this historic comic exist has driven its price up to a whopping $3.2 million dollars on an eBay auction with a starting bid of 99 cents.
7. Shane Butcher’s Life – $3.5 million
Sometimes people say that they feel like a million bucks. When Shane Butcher wakes up in the morning, he feels like about $3.5 million dollars. One of the “items” up for auction on eBay was the life of Shane Butcher, which included two homes, cars and office, 3 R U Game shops and his other possessions.
What would posses Shane to do such a thing? Now that he feels he’s accomplished the American dream, he wants to start on another dream. If his auction doesn’t go through, Shane stressed that he would be happy continuing his life as a person who has accomplished the American Dream.
6. Crypt Above Marilyn Monroe’s Resting Place – $4.6 million
Sometimes, eBay auctions involve the sale of items that are dubious to both buy and sell. In the case of the space above Marilyn Monroe’s grave, both the buyer and the seller appear to have slightly strange and dubious motives.
With a minimum starting bid of $500,000, Elsie Poncher put her husband’s crypt up for auction, which had developed quite a cache due to its location above the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe. Bidding ended up ballooning all the way up to $4.6 million, taking care of the capital she needed to continue her life in Beverly Hills. To this day no one knows why the buyer valued the crypt at the price of a luxury home.
5. Gulfstream II Private Jet – $4.9 million
For the discerning traveler who considers first-class to be an experience best left to the peasants, or for the jet-setting corporate CEO looking to burn stockholder profits, the Gulfstream II Private Jet is the solution for the transportation problems of the ultra rich.
This high-end commuter plane was put up for auction on eBay in 2001, tempting high-fliers with one of the finest luxury private jets in the world. It ended up selling to the appropriately named Tyler Jet, a Texan who purchased the jet for $4.9 million. At the time, this was the most expensive purchase made on the influential online auctioning site.
4. Space Monkey Sam Photo – $5 million
One of the stranger high-value auctions on eBay is a simple photograph. Space Monkey Sam was one of the first monkeys to be shot out into space, flying 55 miles into the sky on December 4th, 1959. Unlike many of the poor subjects of these space flight experiments, Space Monkey Sam actually made it back alive, becoming a bit of a celebrity.
The photo of Space Monkey Sam being auctioned is signed by the paw of the brave primate himself and arrives with a certificate of authenticity backed up by the U.S. Air Force. The starting bid is $5 million. Not surprisingly, no one has bid on this yet, despite its uniqueness.
3. Elvis and James Dean Painting – $7 million
Elvis and James Dean were two of the biggest icons of the 1950s and 1960s, existing as two of the biggest male sex symbols of that era. Both celebrities have images that endure all the way to the present as a major influence of what is cool and what isn’t.
Gerald Sabatini decided to paint a tribute to the two stars on a hardwood canvas, mounting the image into a sculptured frame made by hand. This dual portrait features Elvis in color and James Dean in black and white.
Two different bids for $7 million were proposed through eBay, but neither of them were approved, resulting in another wait to see who is willing to pony up $7 million for the portrait.
2. Navy F/A-18A Hornet – $10.05 million
eBay prides itself on offering the best for nearly every desire that a consumer can experience. Those who wish to bid on the finest in military aircraft in the world also have their own auctions. In 2004, the United States Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter was listed on eBay.
The starting bid was $1.05 million – much less than the original cost of $29 million that the government paid for this supersonic jet. For an extra $9 million, the buyer can also enjoy ownership of a bunch of bomb racks, among other extras. Mike Landa, seller of this deadly vehicle, was visited by the Feds, who questioned him about his activities.
1. Gigayacht – $168 million
By far the most expensive eBay auction was that for the Gigayacht, which is a gigantic, 405-foot long pleasure vessel with all the best seafaring luxuries that one might expect while traversing the seven seas.
Apparently, this beast has 10 suites of two or more stories, eight guest rooms, a movie theatre and a helicopter landing pad because it’s considered gauche to arrive on board through less expensive means.
The winning bid of $168 million was rumored to have been placed by superyacht collector Roman Abramovich, who felt like he needed another yacht in case his other hundred-million-dollar yachts break down.