13 Quirkiest Items That Sold for Millions at Auctions
From royal undies to a banana duct-taped to a wall, here are some really strange things that have fetched major moolah at auctions.
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Albert Einstein’s theory on happiness
A Japanese bellboy received the tip of a lifetime when he made a delivery to physicist Albert Einstein in 1922. Einstein was in Tokyo on a book tour when he found out he’d won the Nobel Prize. Overwhelmed by the honor and attention, Einstein put some of his thoughts to paper, which he gave the bellboy when he couldn’t find change for a tip. “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,” Einstein wrote in German on a piece of hotel stationery, according to the New York Times. On the second paper, he wrote, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” The two papers, his take on happiness, sold at a 2017 auction in Israel for $1.56 million and $250,000, respectively. For a more budget-friendly way to put a smile on your face, try these 24 things happy people do every day.
A giant steel rabbit
And we’re back with some really expensive art. A three-foot stainless steel rabbit created by the artist Jeff Koons in 1986 sold at auction in 2019 for the breathtaking price of $91 million. It went to Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and it set the world-record price for a work by a living artist. The rabbit is considered one of the most iconic works of art of the 20th century, and a blow-up version of it appeared in the Macy’s Day parade in 2007. The work has influenced generations of artists, even the aforementioned Damien Hirst. And on a funny side note, when Koons was deciding on what animal to sculpt a likeness of, he almost chose a pig. It seems like the bunny paid off.
Truman Capote’s ashes
The author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood certainly did love an adventure, and so maybe it’s not that big of a surprise that his ashes continue to have a life of their own. Housed in a Japanese wooden box, the writer’s remains belonged to Capote’s longtime friend Joanne Carson—ex-wife of the famed late-night talk-show host Johnny Carson—until her death in 2015. (Capote died in 1984.) The ashes have had quite a ride, having been stolen once before and luckily returned, until they were finally sold for $45,000 in 2016, to an anonymous buyer who promised: “that Truman will continue his adventures.” Check out these true crime books that will keep you up at night.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester
While most people associate Leonardo da Vinci with his paintings, like The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, da Vinci was also a scientist and engineer whose notes about inventions and thoughts on the planet (its origin and end) were captured in a journal titled the “Codex Leicester.” In 1994, Bill Gates purchased the journal for $30.8 million at auction, a price that made it one of the most expensive books ever sold. Da Vinci’s ideas and musings in the Codex are written in his famous mirrored cursive writing, and it’s currently on loan to museums and schools across the country. Next, read through this list of rare books worth a fortune.