The Internet has become the world’s garage sale which I guess would make it a world sale. And if you’ve ever stopped to meander through a garage sale, you’ll see plenty of strangeness. We’ve already had a list about oddities on eBay auctions but we’re going to open it up to all Internet marketplaces. One note: it is not possible to ascertain the seriousness of these offers. It’s quite feasible the seller had his or her tongue firmly planted in their cheek. You decide.
10 Sperm Whale Carcass
In May of 2014, and unwelcome tourist arrived on a Newfoundland beach near Cape St. George: a 40-ft (12 m) dead sperm whale. Told they were responsible for disposing of the carcass, the city of Cape St. George looked for a way to pay for it. They first explored renting a 50-ft (15 m) boat to tow the carcass back out to sea, but that did not prove powerful enough. And, after a week of wallowing in the surf, the dead mammal was starting to reek. Desperate, Mayor Peter Fenwick turned to eBay.
Fenwick says they weren’t trying to profit from the dead whale, merely to find someone to take it off their shores. The bidding for the carcass was up to $2,000 when eBay pulled the auction because of its policy against selling animals, dead or alive. Environment Canada also informed Fenwick that it was against Canadian law to sell a member of an endangered species, even if it’s dead. In the end, fortune smiled as a high tide, large swells and a westerly wind sent the carcass back out to sea, solving the problem.
9 A Human Soul
While the father of lies might give you a good deal on a used soul, you can’t sell it on eBay. They have a specific policy against it. When asked why, they responded: “If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist then, in accordance with eBay’s policy on human parts and remains, we would not allow the auctioning of human souls.”
Turns out there’s a reason eBay has a policy: people have been trying to sell their souls for quite a while. Back in 2008, a member of the band Paradigm tried to auction his soul for 25,000.50 pounds (about $37,500 in 2008—why the extra half pound only he knows). But wait! There’s more! He also would send updates on his soul, along with a cut of his and his bands earnings. But wait! There’s more! He would also send the buyer a birthday card every year. And he had a clause where he could buy his soul back for 100,000,000 pounds ($150,000,000).
Sold on marketplaces and by online businesses, selling poop has recently found a niche, although there is an argument that mailing crap has been going on for decades. Mailpoop.com provides a gag gift for that special someone: a nice box of dog poop. Pricing depends on the size of the dog providing the poop. For instance, a 110 pound (50 kg) dog will provide 2 pounds (1 kg) of smelly joy for a very affordable price of $20. Their website even has a photo gallery of their dogs taking dumps.
But for the more discerning shopper, there is Shitexpress.com that will send a sealed plastic container of horse, gorilla or elephant poop. Typically this item is not meant to bring a smile to the recipient’s face, as it comes with an anonymous note from someone he or she irritated. Some of the message options include “One steaming pile from me to you” and “I hate your guts.” Another note on the side tries to give the recipient perspective: “At first think about yourself. It [the poop] was sent to you probably because you hurt or insulted someone. Take a deep breath. Nothing bad happened. You should try to be a better person from now on.”
7 Belly Button Lint
Avid garage sale spelunkers will tell you they often come across sale items they had no idea anyone would want, much less sell. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure (or so the saying goes). My personal saying is similar: one person’s trash is still another person’s trash. eBay has plenty of these items, things like toilet paper rolls and empty egg cartons and makeup containers for the arts-and-crafts-minded. But at least these items are being repurposed, keeping them out of landfills.
But then you come across the ad for 72 Taco Bell mild sauce packets for $18 (They are aware these packets are free, right?). Or the iPhone 7 that looks like it spent quality time in a garbage disposal with the caption: “Works great and turns on. Just needs the screen repaired.” Asking price: $500. Another seller advertised their rusted “portable fire pit” for $100. The portable part comes from a caster-wheeled chair base that had been attached to the pit. Another wanted to sell a “rare” peanut with four nuts inside for the excellent price of $500.
The winner of the most bizarre, however, goes to the Baltimore man who posted on a MOPAR website for Chrysler-built enthusiasts his interest to trade his belly button lint for a muscle car, motorcycle, rifles, gold coins or simply cash. He had the navel nap in multi-colors, in sealed plastic containers with the begin and end dates of when he collected the um- samples. He had to add that he wanted only serious offers (yeah right) and warned against low balling.
6 Single-use Plastic Bag
Some people sell items that are no longer normally available. These include discontinued things like VHS tapes or items that evoke nostalgia like a Care Bear keychain or a Ross Perot campaign button. Some, however, jump the gun a bit in their hopes for nostalgia. For instance, one seller believed pencils were already archaic, advertising a “2019” model for $49. It didn’t even have an eraser. Another seller posted an image of two snowballs in their freezer, advertising that they were from the blizzard of January 2016, the “biggest snowfall in NYC history.” Asking price was $10,000, plus $2,000 for shipping. It doesn’t mention how the snowballs could be authenticated.
One creative Aussie thought they’d bank on people’s nostalgia even after only a single year. They posted an image of a plastic bag in a picture frame with the caption “We banned single use plastic bags this time last year” and titled it “The Last Plastic Bag.” Asking price was $250. It might take a couple millennia before anyone is truly nostalgic for those. Come back to us then.
5 Harambe-Shaped Flamin’ Hot Cheeto
The phenomenon of seeing faces in our mashed potatoes or cow-shapes in the clouds is a perfectly normal cognizant tendency to see the familiar in chaotic inanimate forms. It’s called pareidolia and it’s a mental short hand to make sense of what we see. Spending grotesque sums of money to purchase worthless inanimate objects because of this phenomena, however, falls a little south of normal. The oft-cited example of this is the cheese sandwich Diane Duyser made in 1994. As she was taking a bite, she looked on her beloved sammie to see the Virgin Mary staring back. She was so surprised, she put the sandwich in a plastic case with cotton balls and placed it on her nightstand where it sat for 10 years, growing nary a single spore of mold. In 2004, Duyser decided to share her miraculous sammie with the world, selling it on eBay for $28,000.
But that’s just the tip of the proverbial food pyramid. When a Texas man purchased a cornflake shaped like the state of Illinois for $1,350 in 2008, he decided to send someone to Virginia to retrieve it. It seems that when he purchased another cornflake billed as world’s largest, he had it mailed to him and it arrived in three pieces. Another cornflake—this one shaped like Australia—reportedly sold for over $200.
Jesus often appears on food and when his face appeared on a pierogi while the seller was cooking it on Easter in 2005, it was for $1,775. Jesus has made an appearance on everything from a banana peel to a sour cream and onion potato chip to a burnt fish stick to a pizza crust to the inevitable grilled cheese sandwich. Jesus has even appeared on a Cheeto both on a cross and walking.
The irregular shapes of salty snacks have inspired plenty of online bidding. The asking price of a Cheeto shaped like a flying Superman was $5,000. A Dorito shaped like a pope’s mitre went for $1,209 in 2005. And in 2017, a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto shaped like the famous gorilla, Harambe, sold for nearly $100,000. Just the year before, the Cincinnati Zoo had been forced to kill Harambe when a 3-year-old fell into his enclosure.
4 Country Jacuzzi Hot Tub
Instead of merchandise, some sell services online. For instance, for people tired of their parents nagging them about finding a mate, or weary of friends trying to set them up with hideous blind dates, or just want to be seen as taken without the baggage of being taken, there’s the Invisible Boyfriend or Invisible Girlfriend. The user fills out a questionnaire to form their ideal boyfriend or girlfriend’s personality, chooses a selfie from the company’s collection of fake faces to download on their phone, and selects a “how we met” narrative from their collection. The user will then get text messages from their invisible lover. For an extra fee, their lover will also send gifts or flowers on holidays, birthdays and Valentines Day. The user, however, cannot expect any sexting.
There are companies that will provide fake job references or valid alibis for when you call in sick or want to cheat on your significant other. You can hire professional wedding guests to fill out the church, paparazzi to help you feel like a celebrity, and even rent a wife to test drive a marriage before you find a real one. No, we are not talking about sexual favors, just a woman willing to cook your dinners, pick up your clothes and wash them. Apparently you’d be test driving a marriage from the 50’s.
But not all services are equal and the Internet is chock full of unequal services. One person posted that he/she decorates cakes and apparently received some unfavorable comments about their work. The seller wrote: “Seen [seeing?] as all the bad comments I got on my cake post yesterday[,] I was up all night decorating this[.] Can see a massive improvement[.] So thanks to all the constructive criticism[.] You just made me 10x better.” The photo that accompanies this post is of a cake, topped by a ragged, egg-shaped window with what looks like Joan Rivers with wings or Tinker Bell – if she was Joan Rivers’ doppelganger – grimacing from it. He/she was so proud of their work, they posted new (presumably inflated) prices.
One vendor offered to build a “country Jacuzzi hot tub” for $9,500. Essentially the seller would cut a steel ¾ inch oblong water or natural gas tank in half, mount a 4-person seat on the side, an air tank and tube for a bubbler and set it all over a trench campfire. The seller promises the water will heat up in only 2 hours and will stay warm until morning. Of course, a new, top-rated, Jacuzzi with adjustable jet massage, comfortable ergonomic seats, and a heater that admittedly takes 3-4 hours to heat will set a buyer back about $3,000 less.
3 Whiff of Brangelina
In the 1987 film Spaceballs, Mel Brooks’ character, President Skroob, popped open a can of “Perri-air” in order to huff clean air instead of his planet’s pollution. Co-writer, director and producer Brooks had no idea how prophetic this was. Today, clean air is big business, especially to those living in heavily polluted countries such as China and India. Vitality Air makes $300,000 annually bottling 8 liters of mountain air from Alberta, Canada, and selling the containers for $32. This is slightly discounted from the Ziploc bag of Alberta air that launched the company when the owners sold it on eBay for $169 in 2014. We can also purchase jars of British air for $113. In 2015, a Ziploc bag of air from the “hippest neighborhood in the world” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, sold on eBay for $20,100.
Celebrity air can go for even more outrageous amounts. In 2015, a Ziploc bag of air supposedly from a Kanye West concert during his Yeezus Tour went on eBay with an initial asking price of $5. After 90 bids, the price ballooned to $60,100. Seizing on the opportunity, 20 bags of alleged Kanye concert air went up for auction, one of the listings claiming: “Air taken from FRONT ROW SEATS; POSSIBLY CONTAINS KANYE’S BREATH!!!” When she heard about it, Kanye’s then wife, Kim Kardashian tweeted “Wow, he can sell anything!”
One power couple that would rival Kim and Kanye and are also in the midst of a divorce is Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Back in 2010 when they were still dating, a jar went up for auction on eBay that was reportedly filled with Brad and Angelina’s exhalation as they walked by the jar during a red carpet event. There is no indication Brangelina exhaled in the jar, that the jar was even near enough to the couple to capture their breath, or any proof the jar was even at the red carpet event. And yet some poor soul purchased the jar for $523.
2 Crypts Near Marilyn Monroe’s
Bizarre obsessions over celebrity personal items are not new. When the Beatles invaded the states back in 1964, everything from ashtrays, bath mats, silverware and used cakes of soap were taken from their hotels and sold as souvenirs. When they swam in a pool in Miami, water from the pool was bottled and sold as “Beatle Water.” Even the sheets they slept on were cut up into 7,200 squares, each mounted on certificates of authenticity that helpfully indicated which Beatle slept on it and from what part of the bed the swatch came from. Several sets of the Fab Four swatches recently went on eBay, selling for $150 per foursome.
More recent examples of this phenomena are Scarlett Johansson’s used tissue (sold for $5,300), Justin Timberlake’s uneaten French toast ($3,154), Lady Gaga’s fake fingernail ($13,000), and William Shatner’s kidney stone ($25,000). Quite a bit of personal items of Britney Spears has been auctioned including a used wad of chewing gum ($14,000), half-eaten egg salad sandwich ($520), and a pregnancy test pilfered from her hotel bathroom ($5,000).
Marilyn Monroe is another celebrity who suffered from intrusions into her personal life while she lived, and, sadly, long after her death. In 2010, three x-rays of her chest taken when she entered Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Florida in November of 1954 were auctioned. The frontal chest x-ray (in medical jargon known as a posterior-anterior view) went for $25,000 while the two profile images (lateral views) went for $10,000 apiece.
When she died in 1962, she was buried in a mausoleum at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery, in a crypt apparently purchased during her less-than-a-year marriage to baseball superstar Joe DiMaggio. During their 1954 divorce, DiMaggio sold his crypt directly above Monroe’s to entrepreneur Richard Poncher. When Poncher died in 1986, he had an odd last request: he wanted to be buried in his casket face-down, allegedly so he could gaze upon Monroe throughout eternity. According to his widow, Elsie, his wishes were honored and, after his funeral, he was turned over onto his belly.
Twenty-three years later Elsie wanted to pay-off her $1.6 million mortgage on her Beverly Hills home and decided to move her husband’s remains and auction his crypt with the starting bid at $500,000. The three-day bidding sent the price to a record $4.6 million. Unfortunately, the bidder welched and Elsie turned to the 11 others who made bids greater than $4.5 million. All 11 also backed out.
After hearing about Elsie’s auction, another widow put a crypt near Monroe’s up for auction with a starting bid of $250,000. She didn’t get a single bid. And Richard Poncher’s body is still above Monroe’s. As a side note, Hugh Hefner purchased the crypt next to Monroe’s for $75,000. Monroe fans were outraged when Hefner was buried by her side in 2017, largely because Hefner had used her 1948 nude photo without her permission to launch his magazine, Playboy, in 1953. Not only did Hefner not get her permission, he never paid her for the use of the photo, nor did he apologize for nearly ruining her career.
1 Grandma’s “Denchers”
Online marketplaces have often been the battleground for stormy relationships. Way back in 2008, an unidentified woman made an unpleasant discovery on her bed when she came home one day: a condom wrapper that belonged to her husband and panties (or, as she described it, a “tarts’ knickers”) that did not belong to her. She tried to auction both on E-Bay, but they have a strict policy against selling used intimates. So she auctioned a photo of them, commenting that the condom wrapper was for a “size small.” But she wasn’t done. She next planned to sell his Harley Davidson for 99 cents. Similarly, a shock jock’s wife who, enraged at his on-air flirting, sold his $45,000 Lotus Esprit Turbo for 77 cents in 2013.
Clearly some ads are meant to be cathartic, a balm for the pain. One Oklahoma City woman advertised her husband’s riding lawnmower for $500. But she couldn’t help throwing in some zingers. “It’s got less miles than his girlfriend. Barely used unlike his cheap girlfriend….It’s a lawn tractor. Not sure what that means[;] the only plowing he did was on her.” Another ad offered a free $1600 couch and loveseat set that was only a month old. In the photos, there are clearly several rips and holes in the upholstery. “So me and my husband got in a fight,” the seller wrote. “I moved my stuff into [a] storage unit and I came over because I still had the key[.] Found that he bought new couches[.] I murdered them[.] All of them,” she said, admitting she “stabbed the couches.” She continues: “We made up and [I] moved back in” and added “nahhhhhhh hahahaha.”
In 2016, a British woman ran off with another man, taking her husband’ s vehicle and leaving her own 2004 Smart Roadster behind. The Roadster was a smack in her husband’s face, because he thought it an “absolute disgrace of a car” fit only for a “person with little or no dignity.” He sold it and her personal possessions on eBay, saying he’d use the proceeds to get drunk and purchase the services of a prostitute.
In 2020, a woman was scrolling through a used fashion marketplace and stopped at a T-shirt she liked, modeled by a woman in a bedroom. Imagine her shock when she realized the bedroom belonged to her boyfriend. She contacted the seller and verified it was indeed her boyfriend’s boudoir. When confronted, the seller was apologetic, then had the gall to ask the girlfriend if she was still interested in the shirt.
One grandma allegedly had the habit of borrowing money from her grandchild to purchase things, but failed to repay him or her. So the grandchild posted on Facebook’s marketplace grandma’s “denchers” for $100, noting they were “very clean, like new.”