You cannot sell an Oscar. The Academy has made sure of this fact, by sneaking in a little clause hidden within their fine print, which reads that anybody looking to profit from their special statue has to offer it to the Academy first and foremost, which they can buy back for only $1. This agreement has been in effect since 1950, which Oscar winner Harold Russell had no problem with. The reason why Oscar winner Harold Russell had no problem, is because Oscar winner Harold Russell won his Oscar in 1947, meaning that when he sold his Oscar to pay for his wife’s medical bills in 1992, there was no agreement and absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. Harold walked away with $60,500 (about $105,500 in modern times) from that deal.
To this day, Harold is the only performer to sell his Oscar in history, but you can be sure that given half the chance, many other celebrities would run head first into eBay because they value other aspects of life over a silly little golden man who doesn’t even sing or dance or do anything. Perhaps there is a charity in desperate need of their services. Perhaps they have a medical emergency to pay for. Or perhaps they were stupid with their cash flow and now can’t afford their luxury yacht. Whatever the case, let’s look at 15 times celebrities sold something irreplaceable, and now they can’t get it back, it’s too late, sorry for your loss.
15 Scarlett Johansson’s Used Tissue
If anyone ever asks you, here is a fantastic example of an unsettling joke which went too far. In 2008, the Hollywood sex symbol Scarlett Johansson appeared on the Tonight Show, sporting a brand new seductive look she referred to as “a cold”. Said cold was apparently transferred to her from one Samuel L. Jackson, so we are already talking about A-grade germs right here, not the peasant kind which would affect simpletons like you and me. In an attempt to control the liquid leaking down her lip, Johannson asked Leno for a tissue, blew her nose, and then signed the material, promising that she would auction the item on eBay and donate any profits to the hunger charity USA Harvest. Everyone laughed, but Scarlett was not playing, and she followed through on her word, fetching $5,300 for the trapped virus. What a wonderful world.
14 Lindsay Lohan’s Lindsay Lohan
In 2012, Lohan was reportedly having some money troubles, which wasn’t made any easier when the IRS froze her bank accounts, demanding she paid the $233,904 that she owed them. What Lindsay was forced to do to get that money is an exciting catalyst for all sorts of rumors, and because we like fun, we're going to assume the worst is true. Let's start with a mass email which was sent out by 123 Talent company, who offered an appearance of one desperate Lindsay Lohan who would come to your wedding or bar mitzvah and smile and maybe even dance if you threw peanuts at her. Lohan quickly denied that she’d signed off on any such agreement, and so nobody really knows what happened back there. Still, it is a believable report, as Lohan was doing anything she could to make money at that point of her career, including pawning designer clothing worth $14,000, and posing nude for Playboy magazine.
13 Justin Bieber’s Hair
When Justin cut his signature mop top style hair back in 2011, an army of Beliebers collapsed on the floor instantaneously, a puddle of tears collecting below their shaking bodies, as they cried out to the preteen musical pop gods, wondering why they had been forsaken so? For those who were plagued by that fateful day, I only have good news for all of you. Firstly, you must remember that hair grows back, sometimes at an alarmingly annoying rate. This means that even as you read these very words, Justin Bieber’s hair is growing! It’s getting longer! Furthermore, Justin didn’t let his preciously trimmed hair go to waste, as he donated a lock to Ellen DeGeneres, who auctioned it off to raise money for the Gentle Barn Foundation animal-rights charity. These follicles sold for $40,668, and are probably glued to someone’s face at this very moment.
12 Katy Perry’s Cupcake Trampoline
2010 was the year when Katy Perry had blatantly eaten too much sugar, and the chemical sweetness of these processed foods managed to drill a hole straight through her tooth and up into her brain, planting the video idea for her California Gurls single deep within her creative mind. During this clip which was inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we all watched in diabetic dismay as Perry floated around naked on a candyfloss cloud, eating a gingerbread man whilst he was still alive, trying to communicate with a girl trapped in jello, and then squirting whipped cream from her… bra. It’s enough to give me a stomach ache, but that always happens when I look at Katy Perry. Another imaginative prop featured in this demented scene would be that of a cupcake trampoline, the sticky accessory you never knew you needed, which Katy auctioned off to help the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, fetching $5000.
11 Pharrell Williams’ Hat
Professional sportsmen are not allowed to compete in events if they’ve been pumping their veins full of steroids because it gives them a dishonest advantage. These same principles should apply to musicians such as Pharrell Williams, as artists like him carry the condition known as synaesthesia, where one can literally see sounds, associating colors and shapes to audio, and therefore having the ability to tell whether a song is ugly or not before even getting to know them. It is for these reasons that Pharrell has won ten Grammy Awards and is responsible for a large percentage of the biggest hit singles in recent memory, which is not fair. Unrelated to all of this is Pharrell Williams' hat which he once placed on eBay, raising $44,100, and then donating the full amount to a kid’s charity. The buyer? That was Arby's fast-food sandwich restaurant, who are also really just a big hat themselves.
10 Burt Reynolds’ Golden Globe
The drama film Boogie Nights has been complimented by every critic with a pen, and the award organizations were quick to follow, basically throwing so many trophies at the picture that people's lives were in danger. Once such award included the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe which Reynolds caught in his teeth before running off into the night, howling at the moon. Times have changed since that 1997 date, particularly Burt’s financial life which took a tumble when he could no longer afford his mortgage in 2014, and he was forced to sell much of his memorabilia just to afford his facial hair products. This box of priceless items included a red leather jacket from Smokey and the Bandit II, a pair of cowboy boots from Striptease, and, yes, even his Golden Globe. Despite the mounting evidence, Burt stated that he was not in any economic trouble, but rather that he was simply downsizing because obviously Golden Globes are that inconveniently large.
9 Kim Basinger’s Town
Have you ever been so successful that you woke up one morning and decided to buy a town? Kim Basinger has. The town is called Braselton, located in Georgia, and for the reasonable price of just $20 million, Basinger purchased the 1,691 acres of land in 1989, fully intending to put together the greatest tourist destination the world had ever seen! There was talk of a movie studio! There was talk of a film festival! There was so much talk about everything that nobody even noticed when Kim began to drown beneath her debt! A 1993 lawsuit had ordered the actress to pay $8.1 million in damages for leaving a film she’d signed onto, and as a result, her bank account packed up and left her, shortly before bankruptcy knocked at the door. Kim had no choice but to sell her town at a huge loss, later stating that "nothing good came out of it".
8 S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole’s BRIT Award
After the unfathomable success of The Spice Girls, their former manager Simon Fuller had tasted the Sun and wanted more. He put together S Club 7 in 1998, and to praise this group as some lucrative force on the same level as their spicy foremothers would be a grossly inaccurate statement. Regardless, they did sell 10 million albums worldwide and won two BRIT Awards, so it’s not like they were poor or anything. Well, not yet anyway, as founding member Paul Cattermole filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and he was forced to let go of anything valuable yet worthless in his possession. Back to the BRIT Award conversation then! Said trophy was put up on eBay, and the bidding eventually closed on £66,100, which Cattermole was satisfied with. Not so fast, Paul! In the end, the buyer never wired the money through, and so the singer was forced to auction it off once again, just to really remind the public that he had failed at life.
7 Hugh Laurie's Cane
Here’s a little fun fact about Hugh Laurie's limping character Dr. Gregory House in the television series House: the leading actor confessed that he occasionally grew bored with limping on his right side, and shot scenes limping on his left. What a continuity nightmare! It’s probably for the best though, as eight years on the air had caused Hugh to develop a real permanent limp due to a mix of repetitive strain, psychosomatic reprogramming, and some other disorder only House himself would have been able to diagnose. It’s ironic! Whatever. When the series ended in 2012, Hugh and those friendly people working on the show passed House’s signed cane onto the Television Academy Foundation, where they raised $1,150 after 14 bids on eBay. I reached out to Hugh for a statement on this matter, but seeing as I do not have his number, it proved to be impossible.
6 Eric Clapton’s Guitar
How do you know when you’re a famous guitar? When you have your own Wikipedia page, that’s how! Meet Blackie, a Fender Stratocaster once owned by arguably “the most influential guitar player in the world” Eric Clapton. Blackie and Eric were a team, joining forces on stages around the globe, conquering evil using their combined powers of love and strings, altering perceptions in every studio they blessed with their presence. And even if Mr. Clapton was known for his drug-addicted habits through a large portion of his career, Blackie never left his side, and in turn, Eric fought the urge to sell off his loyal companion when times were tough. Well, until 2006 anyway, when Eric Clapton was clean and sober, no longer forming devoted bonds to inanimate objects, and auctioned off his “favorite guitar” to raise money for Crossroads, a rehabilitation center founded by Clapton himself. It fetched $959,500. Not even a million?? Blackie, noooo!
5 James Watson’s Nobel Prize
If you are savvy in the exciting arts of molecular biology, genetics, and zoology, then James Watson would have probably been one of the posters you hung above your bed back in the 60s, pining over his now 89-year-old bald head. He was part of the team who discovered the structure of DNA back in 1953, and nine years later, he was recognized for this breakthrough with a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Of course, James Watson has a dark side, and after making one too many derogatory comments about women and other races, he was soon quietly shut out of the scientific community, everyone refusing to return his calls, pretending they’d never heard of him when his name came up. And as you would imagine, no work meant to money, and Watson was forced to look at his one final option: selling his Nobel Prize with the reserve price of... $2.5million? I would have sold that years ago!
4 Mark Wells’ Olympic Gold Medal
Mark Wells' life was going oh so swell. He loved ice hockey and played it with such determination that the United States of America recognized his passion, and sent him off to compete in the sport as part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the man coming back home with a gold medal around his neck afterward. These successes were so grand that Wells could afford to retire from ice hockey two years later at age 25, and became a restaurant manager. And this is where everything went wrong. After sustaining a spinal injury on the job, a doctor discovered a rare degenerative disease in Mark’s vertebra, which forced him out of work and out of pocket. In desperate need of money for his surgery, Wells had to sell his Olympic Gold Medal for $40,000, and I understand.
3 Jake LaMotta’s Useless Jewels
If you’ve seen the Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull, then you already know this story. And if you haven’t seen the Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull, then you really should, because it’s got the reputation of being really, really good. Telling the tale of former world middleweight champion boxer Jake LaMotta, we watch a man as he goes from the top of the sporting world, to eventually hitting rock bottom after getting arrested for inappropriately behaving with an underage girl. Desperate for cash, Jake smashed his middleweight title belt to pieces, collecting the jewels which were once fixed into the award. He then took these jewels to a pawn shop, where he was informed that they were worthless, but if he’d kept them stuck in the belt itself, he could have sold that unique item for tons of money. I’m not sure if this story actually happened in real life or not, but let’s just say it did. What an idiot!
2 Curt Schilling’s Socks
Curt Schilling isn’t exactly a household name, but it is still a name, and we need to treat all names equally, it’s only fair. However, if you’re a baseball fanatic, you’ll probably have an opinion on this pitcher’s career, as he is a member of the 3,000-strikeout club whilst helping the Philadelphia Phillies to win the 1993 World Series, the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the championships in 2001, and the Boston Red Sox to win the championships in 2004 and 2007. These moments of glory are impressive, but his moments of utter collapse deserve some respect too. In 2013, Schilling’s video gaming company 38 Studios went bankrupt, and before Curt could say “no”, his house has been picked apart and many of his prized possessions went on auction, including the famous bloody sock he wore during the 2004 ALCS (worth $92,613). But that is another story, Google it yourself.
1 Wladimir Klitschko’s Olympic Gold Medal
Prepare your guts to be filled with the warm cream of happy feelings, as this tale is one of pure goodness without any of the usual calories. Two-time world boxing heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, may have made a living from smashing people’s faces inwards, but he also had a heart of gold which matched his Olympic gold medal perfectly, a flawlessly complimentative pair of fashion accessories. The medal was won in 1996, which Wladimir kept for six years before deciding he could no longer hold on to it whilst there were thousands of Ukrainian children in need of his help. And so Klitschko auctioned this medal off and received $1 million to aid his philanthropic mission. But wait, it gets even more beautiful. The bidder who paid the money? That guy returned the medal to Wladimir immediately after payment, stating that this is where the award belonged. I have never met people this nice in my entire life.