It seemed unbelievable when bids to buy a heartbroken man’s life in Australia reached A$2.2 million (US$2.1 million) — and it was, with the bemused seller aware his life was only worth a quarter of that amount.
Ian Usher, 44, announced in March he was auctioning his life on eBay with the package including his A$420,000 three-bedroom house in Perth, Western Australia, a trial for his job at a rug store, his car, motorbike, clothes and even friends.
His decision to sell his life followed the breakup of his five-year marriage and 12-year relationship with his wife Laura, with whom he had built the house.
Usher, originally from County Durham in Britain before moving to Perth in 2001, said he hoped to raise up to A$500,000 to fund a new life. On the first day of the week-long auction, bids skyrocketed to A$2.2 million.
But Usher knew his life was not worth that much and was quick to realize there was a glitch in eBay’s system that allowed offers from non-registered bidders. The problem took a day to sort out.
“Apologies to all, but I guess there are a lot of bored idiots out there,” Usher said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters that was to be posted on his Web site www.alife4sale.com.
“Anyway, after a long day on the computer, I have decided to pull all bids back as far as the first registered bidder, and the price is back to A$155,000 as I write this … we are back in the land of common sense and reality, so it’s over to you.”
After 21 bids, the amount had risen to A$245,100.
A spokeswoman for eBay, Sian Kennedy, said Usher had to verify all the bidders before the auction to check they were genuine buyers, and he could delete any he believed were hoaxes.
She said this was his responsibility, as the bids were not binding because the fact that Usher’s house is the main asset in the sale, his life is being sold under the non-binding real estate section on the site.
“The real estate category on eBay is a non-binding section because of the real estate laws in Australia. You need a special license to sell real estate,” Kennedy said.
“You need to get in contact with him and he has to verify you are a genuine bidder before you can bid,” she said. “If he doesn’t think you are genuine, he can remove your bid.”
Kennedy said Usher is not the first person to put his life up for sale but could be the first to offer it in this package.
Australian philosophy student Nicael Holt, 24, offered his life to the highest bidder last year in a protest about mass consumerism.
American John Freyer in 2001 began a project to sell everything he owned on eBay, later visiting the people who bought his things.
Adam Burtle, a 20-year-old U.S. university student, offered his soul for sale on eBay in 2001, with bidding hitting $400 before eBay called it off, saying there had to be something tangible to sell. Burtle later admitted he was a bored geek.
Usher’s auction closes at noon on June 29.