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by Lydia Bugg
When most of us think of auctions, we think of priceless pieces by Picasso or Monet, or big sparkly diamonds smuggled out of the old country in a Russian oligarch’s unmentionables. Sure, butt diamonds are pretty gross, but in kind of a glamorous way, right? Still, you don't have to be selling priceless works of art to make some big money, because rich weirdos exist. And these are some of the items those weirdos paid phat cash for.
Some Super Old Cake And A Queen's Underwear
In the Seinfeld episode "The Frogger," Elaine eats a piece of wedding cake that belonged to her boss without realizing it was a relic from the wedding of King Edward the 8th in 1937. Elaine freaks out for several reasons, one of them being that her boss says he bought the cake for $29,000. That’s ridiculous though because nobody would pay $29,000 for old cake. In real life it actually sold for $29,900.
The 31 year old San Francisco based entrepreneur who bought it said he did not plan to eat it. The buyer said the cake “represents the epitome of a great romance -- truly romantic and elegant like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.” And to that, we say, "... Sure. That's fine."
If the idea of keeping a piece of cake from 1937 in your house grosses you out, how would you feel about one from 1840? A piece of fruit cake from Queen Victoria’s wedding (above) sold for $1,816 in 2016. The seller also offloaded a pair of queen Victoria’s underwear for $16,250. This is the world, kids.
A Big Pile Of Whale Puke (Or Possibly Poop)
Ambergris, a bodily fluid only found inside sperm whales, is the intestinal gold of the auction business. It’s unknown what exactly ambergris does for the whale but it’s thought to be involved in the process of expelling difficult irritants from its stomach and throat. When something it ate gets stuck in the whale (often a squid’s beak) they cover it in a greasy substance and cast it out. That greasy substance might just be ambergris, and it might come out of the whale’s mouth or its butt. We don’t know! I’m team butt.
Perfume makers use ambergris to make perfume stay on human skin longer. The ingredient is banned in the U.S. due to the Endangered Species Protection Act of 1973; however, it remains in high demand in Europe. Because it's a well known fact that Europeans aggressively despise whales.
Mmmmmmm. Cr- OK, I'll stop.
Since farming them for their awesome vomit is prohibitively expensive, perfume makers have to wait until a whale eats some bad clams in the wild and naturally throws up. The resulting ball of puke solidifies and eventually washes up on a beach somewhere. In 2015 a beachcomber in North Wales made $17,000 off a 2.4 pound lump of whale barf. The anonymous bidder was from France and paid $5,000 over the predicted sale price of $11,000.
A Super Duper Old Condom
You know that classic joke about a guy who carries around a decades old condom in his wallet? Good news! There’s a point at which that unused condom becomes so ancient it’s actually pretty valuable.
In 2016 a 200 year old condom made from sheep intestines sold during an online auction for $556. A bidding war resulted in the condom being sold for twice its estimated value. It was thought to be from the 18th or 19th century and was an unusual 19 cm long (most of the condoms from the same time period were around 15cm).
We call this "The Saddest Date".
Back then, condoms were difficult to make and therefore pretty expensive, so when people bought them they typically used them. That's why there aren’t many around today for the world's classic condom collectors to enjoy. Most of the surviving dong bags from this time period are in one of our many fine boner museums. This one is currently in Amsterdam. Because of course it is.
A Dorito Shaped Like The Pope's Hat
An obvious must have for the collector who has always wanted to eat the pope's hat. Reading about the pope hat chip is a great reminder of what pre-recession America was like. EBay was hitting the peak of its popularity in 2005, and people were just picking up anything they found in a gas station parking lot and auctioning it online for $1,000.
The pope hat chip was just a messed up, rounded Dorito but some lucky rogue looked into a bag of chips and saw a world of potential. The auction for the chip received 34 bids and achieved Internet fame before GoldenPalace.com won the auction with a bid of $1,209. They had previously won an auction for a grilled cheese sandwich with the likeness of the Virgin Mary seared onto it. Apparently the Golden Palace is now the #1 vacation destination for dairy based religious messages? Wait, are Doritos considered dairy?
We'd draw a little pope face on our thumb and make pope finger puppets.
Not only did the seller get the money from the auction, they also set up a website called PopeHatChip.com to capitalize on the chip's popularity even after they sold it. Sadly PopeHatChip.com is no longer a functioning website, but if God wants to communicate with us via a bag of Doritos again, they'll be there.
The Worlds Largest Cat Painting
I realize you might be thinking, “A cat painting? That’s not that weird. I have a ton of those in my house right behind the mummified corpse of my mother.” At first a really big cat painting might not seem comparable to an edible pope's hat, but we feel that giving equal time to both cats and hats is important on The Modern Rogue. We're big Seuss fans. Also, this particular cat painting weighed 227 pounds and was sold for $826,000.
That’s right, some cat loving billionaire paid $826,000 for enough cat painting to crush a man to death. The painting is so heavy it must be displayed on a specially reinforced wall. It’s not just a heaping pile of cat sass that’s weighing the painting down, either -- it’s just really big. 6 feet by 8 1/2 feet to be precise.
Dudes not included.
Kate Birdsall Johnson, an eccentric aristocat who owned 350 cats at the time, commissioned the painting in 1893. Only the 42 best cats were featured in the painting, including "Sultan," the centerpiece of the artwork who was a $3,000 purebred. Johnson’s husband named the painting “My Wife’s Lovers” which was his nickname for the cat harem that his wife kept. And strangely, that phrase is actually creepier than owning 350 cats.
Ted Bundy’s Christmas Card
Merry Christmas! I am innocent of all those murders. I’m scheduled to be executed next month, so I guess I’ll wish Jesus a belated happy birthday when I see him. That’s the basic content of the Ted Bundy Christmas card that went up for auction in 2017.
"Fa la la la laaaa, la laa laaa laaaaa."
Bundy was one of the most well known serial killers in the world. He confessed to 30 murders across seven states in the 1970s, but it’s thought there were probably more. He was so widely hated that when he was executed, over 500 people gathered to cheer, dance and shoot off fireworks in the wake of his death.
With the rise of online auctions, the sale of “murderabilia” became much more commonplace. When eBay banned the sale of murderabilia in 2001, several sites dedicated specifically to the sale of criminal collectibles popped up. The Ted Bundy Christmas card sold on one of these auction sites for $800 to a woman in France who thought she got a great deal on it. She told the Daily Mail “It was a unique opportunity, I never saw a Bundy item for this price, and never will again.” Hopefully.
In August of 2010, a toilet that belonged to John Lennon sold for $14,740, which was ten times what the auction house had estimated for it. John Lennon allowed the workers who replaced the toilet in his English estate Tittenhurst Park to keep it, saying they could “put some flowers in it or something.” This actually makes sense when you see the toilet. It’s pretty cool looking and would make a great addition to any toilet garden.
The purveyor of John Lennon’s toilet was most likely inspired by a man who a few weeks earlier had listed J.D. Salinger’s toilet on eBay. The "buy it now" price was one million dollars, but he did offer free shipping. The toilet received numerous bids but for some reason no one was willing to shell out the requested million dollars for it. Cheapskates, all of them.
Perhaps the low-ballers on eBay might have been more inclined to throw cash at the toilet if it had been the one he used while writing The Catcher In The Rye. However, the toilet in question was mainly used by Salinger later in life, which auction experts feel lowered its value. Also probably lowering its value: the fact that the seller advertised it as uncleaned.
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