Last week marked the two-year anniversary of the tragic death of one of the most celebrated pop culture icons in modern history – Billy Mays. And while we will never know his unbridled enthusiasm for Made-for-TV products and late night infomercials again, he wasn’t the only star that we lost around this time two years ago. We also lost Farrah Fawcett. It was a remarkably dark time for the entertainment industry and it’s simply a testament to the strength of mankind that we were able to push on and still idolize celebrities. Oh, also, Michael Jackson died.
Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills recently honored the King of Pop’s passing in the most American way imaginable – by profiting. Julien's auctioned off the original red jacket that Jackson wore in his Thriller video and it was purchased for $1.8 million by Milton Verret, an Austin, TX commodities trader, who will send the jacket back out on tour and donate most of the profit to various children’s charities, something that Jackson would have tipped his cap at. Most likely his Moonwalker cap.
So is Jackson’s jacket the most ridiculous celebrity item that has ever been auctioned off? Not at all. Is it the coolest? Possibly. But see for yourself with this collection of famous items that have been sold over the years.
File Under: Pretty Cool
A year ago, marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, Julien's Auctions listed the value for one of Jackson's sequined gloves (above) at $19,000. It ended up selling for $190,000.
File Under: Creepy
The jacket and glove? Totally understandable. But purchasing Jackson's burnt hair? Yikes. In 2009, TV commercial producer Ralph Cohen donated 12 strands of Jackson’s burnt hair to an auction of his personal items to help alleviate the singer’s enormous debt. The hair, taken from the infamous Pepsi commercial set where Jackson’s signature curls were roasted, sold for more than $1,600.
File Under: So Awesome
In 2009, at an event for the charity OneXOne, Jeremy Piven raised $290,000, presumably by selling autographed fedoras and shoe lifts. Actress and woman-who-makes-my-heart-melt Charlize Theron followed him with an incredible World Cup package that included the chance to meet Nelson Mandela, but when the bidding stopped at $37,000 she called an audible. Because she didn’t want to be outdone by
the dwarf Piven, she threw in a 7-second kiss for any man that won the auction. Boom - $135,000 bid. Then a woman won the auction for $140,000. So Theron made it a 20-second girl-on-girl kiss. I love you, South Africa.
File Under: For a Good Cause?
Last year, the late Anna Nicole Smith’s partner, Larry Birkhead, hosted an auction of her notable belongings, claiming that he didn’t need any money but he wanted to make sure that their daughter, Dannielynn, had a secure future. It’s unknown how much her items, like the above Halloween costume went for, but hopefully it was a significant price because the Supreme Court all but did away with Dannielynn’s inheritance last week.
File Under: Get Real
In 2007, an unknown seller listed an original, one-of-a-kind self-portrait of Anna Nicole Smith on eBay with a starting bid of $1.7 million. I couldn’t find a picture of the self-portrait so I used one from artist Jason Macier above because it's undoubtedly cooler, but you might be shocked to know that nobody paid for the portrait. At least for $1.7 million. Maybe a half-empty bag of Skittles.
File Under: Awesome
In 2007, Minneapolis morning radio host Dave Ryan paid $19,919.08 as the winning bid for an actual microphone used by The Price is Right host Bob Barker. Ryan justified his purchase by saying that everyone is a Barker fan, and he’s totally right because that microphone is legendary. It’s easily the 10th or 11th wonder of the world.
File Under: Gross, People
While we don't know if the closing auction bid was actually honored or not, someone bid more than $14,000 for a piece of gum that had been chewed by Britney Spears in 2004. This actually led to a series of eBay listings of gum that had been allegedly chewed by the pop princess. Seriously - gross, people.
File Under: Really?
In 2007, after a series of events that led Britney Spears to the brink of insanity and probably beyond, someone in her camp listed her silver SUV and green umbrella from the night that she officially lost her mind and attacked the paparazzi. For a starting bid of $25,000, Spears' fans had the chance to host reenactments of the downfall of a teen icon. How can you pass that up?
File Under: Probably a Good Thing
Prior to the umbrella meltdown, Spears was famously photographed in a salon shaving her head. Someone gathered that hair and tried to list it on eBay. However, the site canceled the listing, citing its policy against the sale of body parts.
*deletes listing for kidney*
File Under: Shouldn't This Be on Autotrader?
In 2007, current UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez decided that he wanted to replace his truck so he listed his custom Ford F-150 on eBay for a starting price of $44,000. After it sold, Velasquez bought a new Raptor. I assume he meant an actual dinosaur.
File Under: I'm All Shook Up
In 2009, a Chicago auction house sold a 51-year old clump of Elvis Presley's hair for $15,000. The hair was supposedly chopped off when The King enlisted in the Army in 1958 so at the very least it's a patriotic purchase.
File Under: Probably Stinky
Actress Debbie Reynolds collected famous items from various movies, actors and actresses over the years and just last week the first lot of memorable pieces went up for auction. Included were Judy Garland's test slippers for the Wizard of Oz, and they fetched an impressive $612,000.
File Under: Womp Womp
Before his passing, actor Gary Coleman was battling both a lack of money and kidney failure. He responded to both by putting personal items for auction on eBay, including an autographed pair of sweatpants that sold for an incredible $40,000. Unfortunately, the winning bidder was Coleman himself, and the actual winning price ended up being $500. The second-chance buyer? Jimmy Kimmel.
File Under: Whatever Happened to Deep Blue Something?
In 2006, before Debbie Reynolds' collection was even mentioned in the same sentence as an auction, the title of Most Expensive Dress in the World belonged to the black cocktail dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's. The dress sold at a Christie's auction for $923,187.
File Under: Probably Lupus
Every year, the TV Academy Foundation hosts an auction of various memorable items on eBay, allowing fans the opportunity to bid on tickets to the Emmys or nostalgic TV memorabilia. In 2009, Hugh Laurie's cane from House sold for almost as much as two tickets to the Emmys and invites to the HBO after-party.
File Under: You Can't Handle the Tooth!
This story has been told plenty over the past decade and parts of it may have been embellished, but it sure is fun to talk about. In 2001, an unknown buyer purchased an assortment of baby and adult teeth because they were allegedly once set firmly in Jack Nicholson’s mouth. Nobody knows who bought them or how much he paid, but it is believed to be true because Nicholson was supposedly super pissed. But then, isn't he always?
File Under: Pretty Crappy
They say a man does his most thinking on the toilet. So imagine how many thoughts were created on the very porcelain seat that reclusive author J.D. Salinger sat on. After someone purchased the "Catcher in the Rye" author's 1980s home, he listed the toilet on eBay for $1 million. I only hope Salinger left an upper decker.
File Under: Super Awesome
Two years after John Lennon was killed, his custom, hand-painted Rolls Royce (replica seen above) sold for $2.3 million at an auction. Imagine all the people asking for a ride.
File Under: Generation Gap
During this year's Super Bowl, Best Buy debuted a commercial featuring Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne wearing futuristic space suits. The electronics retailer teamed with the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program and auctioned Bieber's and Ozzy's space suits on eBay. Bieber's sold for $5,800 while Ozzy's sold for just $2,550.
File Under: Awesomely Awesome
In fairness, I could have done this feature entirely based on the auctions of Julien's, but they don't sell the toilets of authors. Anywho, last year, Julien's got their hands on a letter that Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain had written, featuring his feelings on MTV. It is unknown when he wrote it (I'm assuming before Nirvana performed on Unplugged) but the letter ended up selling for more than $3,000.
File Under: OSWALD!
Last year, a California auction house sold the original coffin that Lee Harvey Oswald was buried in for $87,000. It is unknown what the buyer plans to do with the coffin, but does anyone really want to know? Actually, yes. I do.
File Under: Awesomest
While it didn't sell for as much as his Rolls Royce, John Lennon's Steinway piano is arguably the coolest music item that somebody could purchase for $2.1 million. Music icon George Michael is actually the person who dropped megabucks on Lennon's piano in 2009, as he outbid Robbie Williams and the Gallagher brothers of Oasis for the piano that Lennon used to write "Imagine". I like to think that Michael won the item while Williams was snogging a model in the coat check room and that Liam and Noel Gallagher were too busy breaking up and telling Spin how much they hate each other.
File Under: Come On, People
Earlier this month, the U.S. Marshals Service conducted one of presumably many estate auctions of Ponzi scheme con man Bernie Madoff. During this auction, which featured some pretty cool items, someone paid $200 for 14 pairs of Madoff's boxer shorts. Because that's something to wear with pride.
File Under: Not At All Shocking
In 2009, Madonna's ex-boyfriend James Albright auctioned off a series of love letters that the 80s and 90s pop icon had sent to him, as well as two cassette tapes featuring erotic messages that Madonna had left for him in 1992 and 1993. The items collectively sold for more than $60,000, and now the buyer just has to track down a cassette player.
File Under: Pimp My Dictator
Earlier this year, an anonymous buyer spent $2.5 million on a 34-year old Peugeot valued at a few thousand dollars because it belonged to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mahmoud sold the car to raise money for low-income housing to fulfill a campaign promise to put a roof over every Iranian family. Meanwhile, the buyer will open a museum to showcase the car.
File Under: Great Gift for Grandpa
The most successful item in last week's Debbie Reynolds auction was the dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in the film The Seven-Year Itch, in the iconic scene featuring her standing over a subway grate. The dress sold for a spectacular $5,520,000. Back then that scene was considered super hot and risque. Now it's considered Rated G.
File Under: This Can't be True
In 2005, an unknown "celebrity spotter" - because that's a thing, apparently - posted a listing on eBay for a jar that "may or may not" contain air that was breathed by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. From the listing:
"We are not guaranteeing this air sample contains air molecules that came in contact with any celebrity epidermal layer or respiratory system, but the sample was captured in proximity of the celebrities and air molecules that did come in direct contact."
The jar sold for $16,000 and I really hope that the transaction was never completed. Otherwise, I've lost all faith in humanity.
File Under: Jolly Good Time
Last year, a Florida man - who else? - auctioned off a pair of Queen Elizabeth II's underwear (long story, he "found them on an airplane") for more than $9,000, besting the previous record held by the person who bought Queen Victoria's knackers in 2008. Congrats?
File Under: Revenge Purchase
If you've ever seen the movie Exit to Eden, you'll recall a younger Rosie O'Donnell wearing a black leather bustier and lingerie combo as she participated in some light bondage in the police comedy. Thankfully, ageless beauty Dana Delaney was also involved to balance it all out. Regardless, in 2007, an unknown person won O'Donnell's bustier in an auction and gave it to Donald Trump as a gift. The Donald, in turn, sent the bustier to Barbara Walters to display at the offices of The View during their much publicized feud.
File Under: Pretty Snotty
In 2008, during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, actress Scarlett Johansson blew her nose into a tissue and she signed it and sealed it in a plastic bag. Johansson claimed that she got the cold from Samuel L. Jackson while the two were working together, so she put the tissue on eBay and raised $5,300 for USA Harvest.
File Under: I'd Rather Have L'il Sebastian's Hair
In true eBay fashion, an unknown seller listed two prized possessions from his personal memorabilia collection - hair from the manes of Secretariat and Unbridled. While the seller had no certificates of authenticity for either samples of hair, he gave his word, which on the Internet is as good as gold. It is unknown if anyone ever bought the hair.
File Under: What's The Deal With Gum?
In 2007, an independent celebrity merchandise enthusiast listed for auction what he believed was a piece of Jerry Seinfeld's gum. There was no proof, of course, but as we already know, an Internet user's word is solid as adamantium. The winner of this auction received:
1: One piece of chewed gum that I believe was chewed by Jerry Seinfeld, in its wrapper as found. Delivered in a small gift box – see photos below.
2: A 5x7 black & white photo in an 8x10 matt of Jerry & Kramer (Michael Richards) taken in 1992 on the set from the hit TV show Seinfeld.
3: A 4x6 color photo of Central Park West showing the trashcan where I found the gum, photo is a bit grainy as it was taken with a camera phone.
While it is unknown how much the winner - if anyone - paid for this gum, I'm not sure it was even worth the $22 shipping fee.
File Under: Gross, But Good Gross
The online casino GoldenPalace.com has a history of purchasing the strangest items at auctions. But no item is more unique and disgusting than the actual kidney stone that Star Trek legend William Shatner had removed from his body in 2006. The website paid $25,000 for the calcium deposit, and Shatner donated the proceeds to a housing charity of his choice.
File Under: Huh?
Best known for dangling Vanilla Ice from a balcony by his ankles, former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight is lately just known for legal troubles and criminal associations. In 2010, though, many of his personal items became TV stars as they were auctioned off on the first episode of Storage Wars: High Noon in the High Desert. Included were a few pairs of Knight's drawers. It is unknown how much they went for or how many people they could fit in each pair.
File Under: BOOBIES!
As MySpace just emitted its death rattle after being sold for a measly $35 million this week, it's important to remember what the social networking giant gave us - namely, Tila Tequila's fame. In 2009, Tequila put that fame to good use when she created a plaster cast of her breasts and auctioned it off for the Keep A Breast Foundation for breast cancer awareness and prevention. Her bust sold for $60,000.
File Under: Delicious
In 2000, while still a member of the chart-topping and panty-dropping boy band, N'Sync, Justin Timberlake appeared on New York's Z100 radio station for a breakfast interview and he didn't finish his French toast. So they auctioned off the remaining food for charity. The DJ put the remains on eBay and a Wisconsin high school student purchased the breakfast for $1,025.
File Under: Desperation
In 2007, Whitney Houston was close to losing everything when she was hit with a hefty bill for back taxes. She decided to auction off her collection of lavish personal wardrobes and stage costumes to try to earn that money back and save her home. Included in the lots were her own bras and bustiers like the one above. It is unknown how many items were purchased by Osama Bin Laden.
File Under: It's Still Porn
Yul Brynner won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1956 for The King and I, and according to my grandmothers he was a huge sex symbol in the 1950s and 60s, to which I replied, "Gross!" In 2002, some lucky Russian actor enthusiast picked up a nude portrait of Brynner for a little more than $2,200.
File Under: Bargain of a Lifetime
In 2009, Morace Park purchased a film reel canister on eBay for $5 and change because he thought it looked cool. He later sold it in an auction for six figures because it contained a 7-minute lost film of Charlie Chaplin crashing a German Zeppelin over London. Here's to hoping those slap bracelets I bought last week have some significance.