eBay may be nudging its user community toward a fixed-price, retail-oriented marketplace, but the site remains the go-to online destination for auctions—especially those that are wacky, tacky, or slightly off-beat.
No one more epitomizes "off beat" than The Gloved One, himself, Michael Jackson. So it seems somehow fitting that a rare portrait of the former King of Pop, painted nearly two decades ago, has recently surfaced in an auction on eBay.
Thousands of listings for unusual items can be found on any given day by browsing eBay's Everything Else category. But occasionally, there are those that really tip the oddness scale.
Who can forget the grilled cheese sandwich said to bear the image of the Virgin Mary, which sold on the site in 2004 for $28,000? Or the corn flake in the shape of Illinois that went for $1,350 two years ago?
Here are some recent examples:
Color me bad
A New York seller is hoping to get at least $3 million for an oil painting of Michael Jackson, said to be the only portrait he ever posed for. The 50 x 40 in. painting has reportedly been sitting in a New Jersey warehouse for 17 years. The auction runs until April 17, but if you just can't wait that long, you can own it now for $5.4 million.
Have your people call my people
The "Jenny" phone number, 867-5309—made famous in a popular '80s song—is being offered for a starting bid of $65,000. It's not the first time the phone number has come up for auction on eBay. In 2009, the same number in a different area code fetched $186,000. The current auction includes several Web site domains that use the phone number in their names.
And earlier this month, The International Banana Museum found a new home after a Southern California businessman noticed the auction on eBay. The collection of 17,000 banana-themed items was originally listed for $45,000, but seller Ken Bannister eventually lowered the minimum bid to $7,500. Fred Garbutt made an offer and purchased the collection for an undisclosed sum. He reportedly plans to display it in a commercial building near Palm Springs.
"We want to embellish on it and make it more themed than just the collection and banana-colored walls—we want to put up banana leaf wallpaper," Garbutt says. "The sky's the limit."
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.