You may think of eBay as a glorified online garage sale—and really, there’s no better place to off-load that treadmill you never used or the rack of clothes you’ve not worn in years. But some things listed on the online auction site won’t exactly fit in your garage. Of course, for some bidders, neither money nor garage space is an issue.
5 Apocalypse Getaway
What to do with a decommissioned missile base? At one point, the federal government sold these to private citizens. One such base, deep in the Adirondack mountains, was converted into a secure and isolated vacation retreat—complete with its own private airstrip—and put up for auction on eBay. When the first auction failed, the individuals selling the property lowered their minimum bid, and the property was snapped up by an anonymous couple for $2.1 million.
4 Bought the Town
You could say the tiny town of Albert, Texas is an eBay success story—or at least for one eagle-eyed real estate flipper. In 2004, the town had only five residents, and was sold to insurance broker Bobby Cave on eBay for the bargain-basement price of $216,000. Three years later, Cave re-listed the town on the website after making roughly $500,000 worth of improvements and sold it for $2.5 million. Most flippers dream of making a more-than-200-percent return on their investment, but Cave and eBay made that dream a reality.
3 Let’s Do Lunch
In 2010, Warren Buffett was the third wealthiest man in the world. He decided to create a listing on eBay to benefit Glide Memorial Church and the Glide Foundation, an organization that feeds the hungry. For $2.6 million, an anonymous bidder and seven of his best friends got to pick the Oracle of Omaha’s brain over the course of a power lunch. This was eBay’s most expensive charity auction.
2 I Believe I Can Fly
In 2001 eBay was a fairly new online venture—but that didn’t stop Tyler Jet, a Texas charter-jet company, from putting a Gulfstream II up for auction. The luxury private jet can seat up to 12 passengers in style and comfort, and was ultimately sold to an African charter company for $4.9 million. Ten years later you could pick up a G2 for a quarter of that price, but who’s counting?
1 What’s Bigger Than a Mega-Yacht?
Back in 2005, when it was still considered acceptable to spend massive amounts of money on such things, a 405-foot yacht was listed on eBay. Designed by Frank Mulder, the massive boat dwarfed mega-yachts—and so, the term giga-yacht was born. The winning bid was reportedly placed by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who laid out a 50 percent down payment of $85 million for the lavish vessel. Amenities included a movie theater, a helicopter garage and landing pad, eight guest rooms and 10 multi-level VIP suites.