25 Unusual and Rare Items That Sold at Auction for Serious Money

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Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
Flowing Hair Silver Dollar by National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History (CC BY)

To the Highest Bidder

Auctions have a tendency to elevate the prices of even the most mundane items. Sure, you might expect an art auction to get out of hand and send prices skyrocketing by millions of dollars, but even far lesser items tend to take on added value when there are competing parties trying to outbid each other. We took a look at recent auctions and found items in various categories that set records with the help of passionate bidders. You don't need a rare car to start a bidding war when a tooth or stamp will do.

Cadbury Chocolate Bar

117-Year-Old Cadbury Chocolate Bar

Price: $687
Sold: 2001

While not as expensive as some of this other items on this list, it's not less valuable. This more than 100-year-old Cadbury's chocolate bar accompanied Capt. Robert Scott's first expedition to the Antarctic from 1901 through 1904. The 4-inch bar, wrapped and uneaten in a cigarette tin, was part of 3,306 pounds of cocoa and chocolate Scott took on the trip.

Ruby Roman Grapes

A Bunch of Grapes

Price: $11,000
Sold: 2016

This price is for a bunch, mind you: 30 grapes, at $360 apiece. Ruby Roman grapes were developed over 14 years and bred for minimal acidity and maximum sweetness. The supermarket owner who bought them gave customers a taste of his prize; in a previous grape auction in 2011, the purchasing chef threw them right into a dessert.

Hand-Cut Jigsaw Puzzle

Hand-Cut Jigsaw Puzzle

Price: $27,000
Sold: 2005

Rachel Page Elliott hand-cut this wooden puzzle to benefit the The Golden Retriever Foundation and sold it during a charity event at the Eisenhower Conference Center in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The author of a book and video on canine anatomical structure and movement, Elliott created a work consisting of 467 interlocking pieces, with many cut in her unique designs of birds, cats, horses, and golden retrievers. Elliott died in 2009, and this puzzle has since resurfaced on eBay for a more manageable $6,000.

Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese

Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese

Price: $28,000
Sold: 2004

Floridian Diane Duyser made a sandwich but couldn't eat it when she saw an image of the Virgin Mary in the bread — so she held onto it for 10 years, untouched. An online casino bought and resold it, with at least part of the proceeds going to charity. How does a grilled cheese not get moldy in that time? Well, according to Slate, if you keep moisture out, use fatty margarine to cook it, and use high-calcium American cheese to boost acid content, a grilled cheese can remain in a pristine state for years.

Yubari Melon
Yubari Melon by Captain76 (CC BY)

2 Japanese Melons

Price: $29,251
Sold: 2018

The president of a fruit and vegetable packaging company paid this amount for just two melons grown in Yubari, Japan. It easily beat the previous record ($27,423.28) set in 2016, and more than doubled the amount ($13,711.64) paid for a similar pair last year. Shinya Noda, the president of Hokuyu Pack, wanted to set a record to celebrate his company's 30th anniversary and planned to cut the melons into pieces and give them to customers.

Frank Wilson Vinyl
The Men Of Motown Records/facebook.com

'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)' 7" Vinyl Record

Price: $33,861
Sold: 2009

Motown singer Frank Wilson released one single, in 1965, and only 250 copies were ever pressed — with most destroyed when Wilson decided to switch to writing and producing. The song, however, became a huge hit in the U.K. when the 7-inch vinyl was stumbled across in the late 1970s. The seller, Kenny Burrell, meanwhile, says he parted with it only to enhance his credibility as a record expert.

John Lennon
John Lennon by Nationaal Archief (None)

John Lennon's Tooth

Price: $36,857
Sold: 2011

It's already kind of weird that Dr. Michael Zuk, a Canadian dentist, dropped this much on a molar reportedly belonging to John Lennon. That the molar has its own website hawking tooth-related merchandise is a bit more bizarre. But the assertion that the tooth can be used to clone John Lennon himself is likely where this molar's brief run of fame should end.

Oldest Postcard

World's Oldest Postcard

Price: $41,758
Sold: 2002

This may also be the most expensive practical joke ever sold at auction. The card was sent in 1840 to a "Theodore Hook Esq, Fulham," a playwright and novelist noted for his "wit and drollery." Hook sent it to himself as a joke, but its discovery in 2001 was historic: Before then, it was believed that the postcard was invented in Austria, Germany, or the United States some two decades later.

Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA)

A Kiss From Sharon Stone

Price: $50,000
Sold: 2003

Fan Joni Rimm paid for a 45-second kiss with the "Basic Instinct" actress 15 years ago as part of a charity initiative. The proceeds went to Project Angel Foods — a Los Angeles based charity providing free meals for people with HIV and AIDS.

Endurance final sinking in Antarctica
Endurance final sinking in Antarctica by Royal Grographic Society (CC BY)

Dr. Alexander Macklin's Diary

Price: $153,573
Sold: 2001

That isn't the biggest name in history, but it's one of the most significant. Macklin served as a surgeon to Sir Ernest Shackleton during his exploration of Antarctica from 1914 to 1917. The diary and archive that Macklin compiled was deemed so historically important that the United Kingdom's National Heritage Memorial Fund paid the cost itself.

Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe Baseball

Baseball Autographed by Joe DiMaggio … and Marilyn Monroe

Price: $191,200
Sold: 2006

The iconic actress married and divorced New York Yankees Hall of Fame center fielder Joe DiMaggio in 1954, but by the time they reconnected at the Yankees' spring training in Florida in 1961, they were trying to reconcile. That's where this ball from the estate of late Associated Press photographer Harry Harris was signed, and that's what makes it one of the most rare finds in baseball memorabilia.

Keith Moon Drumset

Keith Moon's Drum Kit

Price: $252,487
Sold: 2004

This five-piece 1968 Premier drum kit was used by The Who's Keith Moon until 1970. With The Who logo on it in orange and black, the kit was used at The Rolling Stones' Rock N Roll Circus, The Who's U.S. tour, Woodstock, the Isle Of Wight Festival, and the concert at Leeds University that led to the "Live At Leeds" album. A private U.S. bidder paid nine times the presale estimate of $26,740.

Pink Diamond Barbie
If It's Hip, It's Here

Pink Diamond Barbie

Price: $302,500
Sold: 2010

Designed by Australian jeweler Stefano Canturi, this model of the classic doll wears a black evening dress and a one-carat pink diamond necklace with three carats of white diamonds around it. Proceeds from the auction went to breast cancer research.

German Enigma Machine

M4 Enigma Coding Machine From WWII

Price: $547,500
Sold: 2017

Germany's formerly uncrackable coding device from World War II resurfaces occasionally around the globe, but fewer than 100 of 15,000 of this late-model version still exist. Built with four rotors instead of three to thwart Allied codebreakers at the end of the war, the M4 was cracked by mid-1943 and both German and Allied forces destroyed the machines toward the end of the war to preserve state secrets.

Macallan Decanter

Macallan M Whiskey Decanter Constantine

Price: $628,205
Sold: 2016

Crystal maker Lalique produced 40 of these 2-foot, 6-liter decanters, but only four survived the process. All four were named after Roman Emperors, with each taking 17 craftsmen more than 50 hours to complete. The whisky comes from a handful of casks dating from the 1940s to the early 1990s. Where are the other three bottles, you ask? One was sold privately, while the other two sit in Macallan's library.

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, 1938
Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, 1938 by David (CC BY)

Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

Price: $660,000
Sold: 2000

The Smithsonian claims there are five pairs of ruby slippers from the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz" kicking around, but they have a habit of disappearing. The first pair offered for sale wasn't until 1970, but considering that the Smithsonian has a pair on display and shelled out to restore them, any other pairs that crop up are going to be incredibly valuable.

PM Modi
PM Modi by Narendra Modi (CC BY-SA)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Suit

Price: $693,174
Sold: 2015

Diamond baron and private airline owner Laljibhai Tulsibhai Patel bought this suit to support the Namami Gange Fund, a project to clean the Ganges River. The suit itself cost less than $1 to make, but Modi wore it during one of President Barack Obama's trips to India.

Romanee-Conti Wine

Romanée-Conti Wine

Price: $1.6 million
Sold: 2014

This 114-bottle superlot was already a big deal when it went up for bid in October 2014. But with a final price reaching $1,700 a glass for 912 glasses, this impressive cellar should be reserved for special occasions. With vintages running from 1992 to 2010, it's a decent sample of the offerings from one of Burgundy's most prestigious vineyards.

666-666 Number

666-6666 Phone Number

Price: $2.75 million
Sold: 2006

Qatar Telecom in Doha offered this number during a charity auction and got eight interested bidders. The bidding war narrowed eventually to two competitors, each of whom really wanted those digits. While that might sound like the most metal number ever here in the U.S., there is a far less sinister meaning behind that many sixes elsewhere in the world.

Vostok Space Capsule

Vostok Space Capsule

Price: $2.88 million
Sold: 2011

This spherical space capsule was flown with a cosmonaut mannequin named Ivan Ivanovich in March 1961, just 18 days before Yuri Gagarin's first space flight. An exact twin of Gagarin's Vostok 3KA-3 capsule, this ship not only paved the way for Gagarin, but was used by other cosmonauts in training exercises. It served as the model for Russian spy satellites but, after this sale, became the only Vostok spaceship outside of Russia and the only one that is privately owned.

Leica No.122 Camera

Leica 0-Series No. 122 Camera

Price: $2.97 million
Sold: 2018

This is a 1923 prototype produced before this German-made line of upscale cameras went to market, and it's pricey whenever it goes on sale. Another version sold for $2.6 million back in 2012, but this one hit the block with a starting price of just $492,000. A private collector in Asia made the final phone bid for this camera, which was in pristine original condition.

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett by USA International Trade Administration (CC BY)

Lunch With Warren Buffett

Price: $3.5 million
Sold: 2016

For more than a decade, Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett has auctioned off a lunch at a Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York to raise money for the Glide Foundation, which helps the homeless in San Francisco. In 2016, however, an anonymous donor won the eBay auction with this numerically sequenced bid. While gaming companies and hedge fund managers have paid more than $2 million for this lunch in previous years, this bidder did without the publicity.

British Guiana stamp, 1856

1856 1-Cent Magenta Stamp From British Guiana

Price: $9.5 million
Sold: 2014

This is the only known example of the rarest of stamps, and it sold for nearly $1 billion times its face value. Printed on a newspaper press brought over explicitly for this purpose and rediscovered by a 12-year-old Scottish boy living in South America in 1873, it has set records each time it's changed hands since 1900. In 1932, it sold for $32,500. In 1970, $280,000. During its previous sale in 1980, it fetched $935,000.

Flowing Hair Silver Dollar
Flowing Hair Silver Dollar by National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History (CC BY)

Flowing Hair Silver Dollar Coin

Price: $10 million
Sold: 2013

Why $10 million for just one coin? Well, considering that it was struck in 1794, it is believed to be the first from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Though it was sold several times before, this version depicting Lady Liberty on one side and an eagle on the other is in incredible condition and has historic value far outweighing its features.

1943 Patek Philippe Watch, Ref. 1518

1943 Patek Philippe Watch

Price: $11 million
Sold: 2016

A 13-minute bidding war pushed the price for this steel-cased, perpetual-calendar chronograph into eight digits. Since it's one of only four in existence, you'll forgive the bidders their urgency.