Once upon a time there was a guy named Joe. He thought tattoos were pretty cool. So he decided, why not make his body a live ad space for other people’s inked-up ideas? He posted his body on eBay to become someone else’s creative space, and out of nowhere came SaveMartha.com, a no-longer-active website dedicated to keeping Martha Stewart out of jail. They bought a slab of skin for $510 to tattoo their colorful ad onto. Hundreds richer, Joe went on to create LivingAdSpace.com, also no longer online.
Can it get any stranger? Yes, it certainly can.
In a world where you can sell just about anything online, you have to wonder where smart ends and strange begins. Whole cities have been posted on eBay, right next to the antique cigarette holders and used bars of soap.
Whether in the quest to gain a bit of stardom, raise money for a cause, or just own something abnormal, tons of unusual things have been sold in conventional and online auctions. People are on the lookout for random items that can cash in thousands because of who owned it or what it looks like. Those finds have resulted in some of the most outrageous, expensive, and unusual purchases around the globe.
Are you itching to make bizarre sale history? Maybe a strawberry that looks like Ashton Kutcher could cash out in the thousands, or a bottled up a bit of celebrity toenail clippings could catch the eye of some wealthy business owner. There are frighteningly various ways to make some strange change, ways that may include stalking a celebrity or digging through your cabinets.
If you’re trying to figure out what especially special thing to sell that may get you paid, these shockingly odd five types of purchases may give you some inspiration with the biggest dollar signs:
Bits Of Famous People
No actual famous people have not been sold online, but pieces of them certainly have. Elvis Presley’s infamous locks have been sold more than once at auctions at a combined price of about $120,000, one of those auctions being online. Presley is one of many celebrities whose hair has fetched thousands, including John Lennon, Beethoven, and Justin Bieber.
One of the most bizarre celebrity auctions was in 2006, when William Shatner had a kidney stone surgically removed and thought it would be quite generous of himself to auction it off and donate the proceeds. Habitat for Humanity received $25,000 in donations after GoldenPalace.com won the auction in one of the many peculiar online bids the online casino is known for.
In a tiny bit less unusual, but incredibly disgusting, charitable donation, Scarlett Johansson sold one of her used tissues on eBay for an astonishing $5,300. While appearing on Jay Leno in 2008, and apparently fighting a cold, Johansson succumbed to the persuasion of Leno to blow her nose, put the Kleenex in a sandwich bag, and sell the piece of biology online. The proceeds went to Harvest USA.
Once again, no actual people were sold… sort of. One auction in 2008 certainly could have been a bit confusing. Worn-out and fed-up England native Ian Usher put his “entire life” for auction on eBay as a dramatic solution to leave his hectic life in Australia behind after a divorce. His life included his home, which was sold separately and included everything inside; his Mazda car, his motorcycle, jet-skis, and parachuting gear; an introduction to his friends; and a trial at his sales job.
Usher pocketed a total of £216,000 ($362,728) and flew all over the world before settling on his own private island off the coast of Panama. He and his new girlfriend live there in the house he built himself, growing their own food, tending to their island-roaming chickens, and hanging out with the locals.
Unfortunately, this voluntary people-selling is as outrageous as it is disheartening. An anonymous 18-year-old Hungarian teen attempted to selling her virginity on eBay in 2010 to pay off family debts. When the site discovered the auction and pulled it down, she gained enough publicity to start the auction over email and cash in £200,000 ($335,960) from a British man who wanted to marry her. She reportedly said that she only wanted it to be a “one off thing” so she can move past the event and become a doctor.
However, in the true fashion of what we know today as auctioning people (and not their actual lives), four guys in Australia decided to auction off themselves for a weekend of “beer, snacks, and a [heck] of a lot of laughs.” This eBay auction, which started at $0.01 AU ended with a $1,300 AU winning bid. Let’s hope they used some of the cash to create a “The Hangover” worthy weekend for the winner.
In another of Elvis Presley’s many relic auctions online, a man named Wade Jones sold water left in a cup that Presley drank from in 1977 while performing a concert. Jones snagged the cup after the concert and stuck it in his deep freezer for eight years, then defrosting and pouring the water into a glass vial. He claimed authenticity by providing a number of photos of Presley during the concert with a few foam cups on the stand behind him, one of which he says he saw Presley drink from. The water sold for $455.
In 2000, then ‘N Sync band member Justin Timberlake appeared on NYC radio station Z100, but not before sitting down for a bit of French toast. He barely ate the meal and a staff member put the plate, French toast, and extra syrup in a bag and sold it on eBay for $1,025 to college student Kathy Summers. Z100 donated all the proceeds to charity.
Once again, GoldenPalace.com finds itself in another strange auction win. The gaming company purchased the half-eaten sandwich of Britney Spears for over $500 along with an unfinished corn dog of her then-husband Kevin Federline. Apparently in 2006, a waiter at an unidentified restaurant picked up the remains of a meal the two shared and posted them on eBay.
No one can forget the Virgin Mary grilled cheese in 2004 that sparked so many other unbelievable listings. The 10-year-old sandwich was sold by a woman to, you guessed it, GoldenPalace.com. The online casino purchased the slightly burnt sandwich on eBay for a crazy $28,000, despite the bite taken out of it.
In a similarly strange sale, GoldenPalace.com also purchased a Dorito that resembled the shape of the Pope’s Mitre. The Chadwick family in Salem raked in $1,209 for the chip, which was given its own website PopeHatChip.com.
Apparently cornflakes are also cash machines. Two Virginian sisters sold a cornflake that resembled the state of Illonois for an amazing $1,350 after a week-long auction, a single piece of Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain cereal was sold for $1,035 because of its apparent resemblance to E.T, and a university student sold a single cornflake for £1.20 ($2.02) after posting it as a joke. Not much, but the fact that a piece of cereal sold for anything at all is nothing short of unusual.
Places And Landmarks
Famous landmarks have also found their way on eBay. When the original Hollywood sign was replaced in 1978, nightclub promoter Hank Berger bought the pieces from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Berger then sold it to producer and entrepreneur Dan Bliss, who kept it in storage for 25 years before auctioning small pieces away on eBay. The grand total? $450,400. Small of those pieces have since been posted on eBay again.
The entire country of Iceland was posted for auction for a whopping 99 pence in 2008 during the Icelandic financial crisis. The listing described that this amazing purchase included “a habitable environment, Icelandic Horses, and admittedly a somewhat sketchy financial situation.” The exception? Singer Bjork was not included in the sale. This clearly joke listing reached £10 million (over $17 million) before eBay yanked it off the site.
Size certainly doesn’t matter when it comes to selling online. Tucked away in a crevasse of Humboldt County, California is the mostly dilapidated 83-acre town of Bridgeville, the first town to be listed for purchase on the eBay. It currently has a population of about 25, which isn’t much lower than it was when it listed in 2002.
The eBay listing got no bites, however, and was purchased by conventional sale by banker Bruce Krall at $700,000. The cost to fix the town caused Krall to re-list the town in 2006, and it was then purchased by 25-year-old Daniel La Paille, an entertainment manager and college student, at $1.25 million. He reported exciting plans for parks and houses, created a close relationship with the residents, and even began rebuilding the town. Unfortunately, all progress halted when he committed suicide a few months later by gunshot to the chest. The La Paille family has since been trying to sell the town for years, and will likely lose money in the exchange.