In the city of Buraydah in Saudi Arabia, a merchant recently held a public auction to peddle what outsiders might think a peculiar, if not disgusting, commodity: locusts. According to a newspaper report from the nearby United Arab Emirates, the insect-wrangling entrepreneur actually attracted plenty of customers, who enthusiastically shouted out bids of up to &36;113 for 11-pound plastic sacks of the crop-eating pests. As it turns out, many Saudis like to dry locusts out in the sun and then eat them as a snack food, despite government warnings that they may be laced with pesticides [source: Emirates247.com].
But if you think locusts are the oddest item that's ever been offered for sale, guess again. In 1916, a 19-year-old Bayonne, N.J., man named Walter Schilling ran a newspaper classified ad offering himself as a slave for the right price, provided his new master would pay in advance. The servitude Schilling sought was barred by the 13th Amendment, passed 61 years prior, but he still got at least one offer [source: The New York Times].
Again and again, it's been proven that if someone has something to sell -- no matter how bizarre, disturbing or seemingly worthless it is -- there's probably at least one other person who'll see it as a must-have, if not a fantastic bargain. Over the years, price tags have been attached to an astonishing inventory that ranges from owl puke and amphibious car-boats to toast nibbled by a noted pop singer. One woman even auctioned off advertising space on her forehead.
So, without further ado, here are our nominees for the 10 weirdest things ever sold.
10: A Suit Made of Garbage
If you're worried about being called trashy, you wouldn't dare wear the dress jacket and boot-cut trousers ensemble first offered in 2009 by Debenhams, a fashion-forward department chain with stores in the UK and Ireland. The suit is made of garbage -- specifically, 50 plastic bottles diverted from the landfill, melted down, refined and spun into a soft but durable polyester fabric. The Mirror, a UK newspaper, reported that the suit, which was priced at &36;87, "looks far from rubbish and would not be out of place in the boardroom." Debenhams designer Elena Antoniou explained to the newspaper that attire fashioned from refuse makes an eco-friendly fashion statement. "It's on trend, and kind to the environment," she said. Mirror reporter Victoria Ward wisecracked that the outfit would "be ideal for blokes who think clothes shopping is rubbish" [source: Ward].
9: Justin Timberlake's Leftover French Toast
To venerate Padre Pio, a humble priest whom many believe bore the stigmata of the crucified Jesus, Italian Catholics stand in line at his shrine and contemplate a white linen sock stained with his blood [source: Padrepio.us].
Apparently some Justin Timberlake fans have a comparable yearning to meditate upon their idol's miraculous ascent from Mickey Mouse Club to a grown-up, urban-pop crooner. That fervor is exemplified by the woman who in 2000 reportedly paid &36;1,025 for two pieces of French toast left behind by the singer after he finished a breakfast interview at New York radio station Z-100. "I'll probably freeze-dry it, then seal it … then put it on my dresser," the fan, who won an eBay auction, told Entertainment Weekly. Why Timberlake chose not to partake of the slices of bread dipped in egg batter remains a mystery, though the new owner noted that they "look a little on the burnt side" [source: Takahashi].
8: The Amphibicar 770
The Amphibicar was manufactured between the years of 1961 and 1968 by a German company that mistakenly assumed there was a market in the United States for an automobile that owners could drive to the nearest lake or river and then use as a recreational boat. Unfortunately, the ungainly-looking vehicle wasn't that great of a car or a boat. It wasn't completely watertight, and required a bilge pump to keep it afloat, so it never quite caught on. In fact, Time magazine automotive critic Dan Neil once derided it as "the car that revolutionized drowning" [source: Neil].
Even so, many of the 3,878 Amphibicars made are still in existence, and Amphibicar Broker, a Web site for enthusiasts, offers them for sale at prices ranging from &36;19,000 for a 1967 vehicle in need of work to $45,000 for a fully-restored 1965 model [source: Amphibicar Broker].
7: Owl Puke
Like other birds, owls lack teeth, so they rip their small animal prey into pieces with their beaks and then swallow large chunks whole. The bird then slowly digests its meal, separating the softer meat from bones and other indigestible material like fur and feathers. It then regurgitates those indigestible materials in the form of pellets.
While the pellets might seem a bit disgusting to adults, they've become a prized commodity for budding elementary school-age naturalists, who dissect them and ponder the contents to learn about the owl's diet [source: Kidwings]. One Web-based seller of nature and science materials for kids offers a Copernicus brand owl pellet, wrapped in foil and complete with a bone guide and dissecting probes, for &36;7.49. The advertisement does warn that the small pieces are a "choking hazard," which conjures up a mental image worthy of -- you guessed it -- nausea [source: Nature Pavilion].
6: A Dorito Chip Shaped like the Pope's Hat
Food items that resemble religious figures have long been prized as collectors' items, if not as objects of veneration. Over the years, we've borne witness to a tortilla emblazoned with the face of Jesus, a grilled cheese sandwich seared with the image of the Virgin Mary, and a chicken breast that evoked the late Pope John Paul II.
But perhaps the most perplexing of all is a Nacho Cheese Dorito-brand corn chip whose shape -- if one squints slightly -- brings to mind a mitre, the rounded, pointed tall hat traditionally worn by Roman Catholic bishops, cardinals and popes [source: Catholic Enclopedia]. The "Pope Hat Chip," as it came to be called, drew 41,000 visitors to its eBay page before it was purchased for &36;1,209 by Internet casino GoldenPalace.com. In a press release, casino chief executive Richard Rowe described the chip's resemblance to the papal headgear as "phenomenal," and added, tongue-in-cheek, that it would make a "prefect addition" to the casino's collection of oddball artifacts [source: GoldenPalace.com].
5: A Used Nuclear Missile Silo
You've probably heard of beating swords into plowshares. But repurposing a massive remnant of the Cold War arms race, an underground nuclear missile silo, seems like a more difficult proposition. Nevertheless, two men in Saranac, N.Y., converted an unused Atlas F missile silo into a three-bedroom luxury home and are offering it for sale on their Web site for $2.3 million [source: Silohome.com].
Co-owner Bruce Francisco told an Associated Press reporter said that the remodeled home was not only the most secure home one could imagine, but afforded potential buyers unparalleled privacy and peace and quiet [source: Esch]. Nevertheless, they're still waiting on an offer.
4: Hitler's Paintings
Sure, he was one of the most murderous despots in human history, and today is almost universally reviled as the personification of evil. But Adolf Hitler apparently also had a sensitive artistic side. As a penniless young man in Vienna and Munich, he painted scores of miniature watercolors -- sometimes as many as three a day -- and sold them in taverns in an effort to support himself and his roommates.
Though Hitler's subsequent effort to conquer the world necessitated putting aside his paintbrushes and easel, the dictator continued to nurture a sentimental attachment to his amateurish depictions of architectural landmarks, World War I battlefields, flower vases and the interiors of houses. He even directed Nazi officials to buy back all of his paintings, with the intention of eventually preserving them for posterity in a museum in his adopted Austrian hometown of Linz [source: Snyder].
Hitler's defeat in World War II put the kibosh on that dream, but many of his works somehow did survive. A 2002 Washington Post article noted the existence of "a busy and lucrative trade" in Hitler paintings among private collectors, and today, works such as a 1914 depiction of Munich's Arch of Triumph -- asking price &36;69,999.99 -- are offered for sale on the Web [source: Fisher, Snyder's Treasures].
3: Advertising Space on a Woman's Forehead
In 2005, a 30-year-old Utah woman named Kari Smith turned herself into a billboard by offering advertising space on her forehead, which a local tattoo artist reluctantly had agreed to decorate [source: Falk]. The price was &36;10,000, which Smith said she would use to send her son to a private school.
Smith got 24,000 hits on her eBay page, and reportedly received several corporate offers before accepting a bid from GoldenPalace.com, whom you may recall also purchased that curious papal-hat Dorito. For the online casino, buying promotional rights to a person's skin was nothing new. Jon Wolf, an official in GoldenPalace.com's marketing department, told reporters the company had already paid to have its name emblazoned on more than 100 arms, legs, chests and backs -- and even another forehead. Smith, however, was the first woman who'd agreed to a tattoo in such a conspicuous spot.
2: William Shatner's Kidney Stone
At the beginning of each episode of "Star Trek," William Shatner's character Captain Kirk pledged to boldly go where no man has ever gone before. In 2006, the actor achieved just that, at least in a figurative sense: He passed a kidney stone, then sold the deposit, formed from minerals in his urine, for &36;25,000. The purchaser? You guessed it: GoldenPalace.com, which upped its initial bid of &36;15,000 after Shatner turned that down. (He reportedly rationalized that since his costumes from the show have garnered more than &36;100,000 apiece from memorabilia collectors, a piece of himself should be worth at least a quarter of that.) In its customary wisecrack-laden press release, GoldenPalace.com touted the acquisition and Shatner, saying that he had passed the kidney stone "at warp speed," even though it caused him "more discomfort than a Klingon pain stick" [source: GoldenPalace.com].
1: An Entire Nation
A nation with a price tag? Well, sort of. The Principality of Sealand, which exists on a 10,000-square-foot World War II-vintage Royal Navy pontoon base in the North Sea, considers itself to be an independent country, even though most other governments don't recognize its sovereignty. Paddy Roy Bates, a British-born pirate radio broadcaster, moved to the platform in the late 1960s and subsequently established his own government, complete with a flag, a national anthem, a small military, passports, and a national motto, E Mare Libertas ("From the Sea, Freedom").
Sealand's founder, who conferred upon himself the Prince Roy of Sealand, ruled the manmade island for several decades, before appointing his son Michael as head of state in 1999. In 2006, Sealand suffered a devastating fire that did extensive damage to the aging base. The following year, the Sealand regime announced that it would entertain offers to buy or lease the self-styled nation. So far, the price sought by the royal family -- reportedly in the eight figures, or more -- seems to have deterred potential buyers [source: Sydney Morning Herald].
Do I hear a bid, GoldenPalace.com?