Typically, when I’m writing a column I look to current events for some inspiration. But given that today’s headlines seem to be filled with nothing but gloom and doom, I’m going to deviate from the norm and instead offer up a much-needed dose of silliness, courtesy of our friends at eBay. Listed below are some real auctions that actually appeared on the world’s largest auction web site.
In early 2000, a transparent toilet seat embedded with coins was auctioned off on eBay. The seller noted that the toilet seat could double as an oval picture frame. The funny (or gross, depending on your view) thing is that the seat actually sold. My guess is that—with a sale price of over $200—it was probably bought by the Federal Government.
Who says blizzards aren’t good for business? In January 2002, an enterprising resident of “sunny” Buffalo, NY sold pints of snow shoveled from his sidewalk during the record-breaking 81-inch snowfall between December 24 and 28, 2001. “I can’t guarantee it won’t melt in shipment but I will get it to you as fast as I can,” promised the seller. Sound ridiculous? One buyer shelled out over $25 for a pint of the white stuff.
In September 2001, a seller by the name of “hail brak” promised that—for a price—he would personally beat up the winning bidder (his specific offer was to kick a portion of one’s anatomy that probably shouldn’t be mentioned here). “[The beating] may be when you are sleeping, or showering, or any other time during the day/night when you are most vulnerable,” the seller wrote. “Buyer must also provide good, clear directions to their house, as well as any business expenses for if I need to stay in a hotel or buy food for myself during the trip.” The auction received a total of 63 bids, but since the winning bid topped out at $99,999,999.00, it’s doubtful that “hail brak” ever collected his fee.
This recent “buy it on eBay” story is perhaps the most famous of them all. In December 2002, Joe and Elizabeth Lapple auctioned off the town of Bridgeville, CA which the couple had owned since 1985. Though the auction had a reserve price of $775,000, the final bid—placed just seconds before the auction closed—was for nearly $1.8 million. The buyer remains anonymous.
An attention-seeking Los Angeles TV writer recently attempted to auction off his family of four on eBay. In his description, Steven Young offered a lifetime of companionship and even claimed that his family would take on the surname of the winning bidder. Fortunately, eBay de-listed the auction shortly after it was posted, pointing out that it does not allow for the sale of human beings or body parts.