Photo: Business Insider
The global economy has been taking a beating, but that doesn’t mean Russian oligarchs, Saudi princes and the rest of the .001% have stopped spending absurd amounts of money on strange, extravagant, and ridiculously cool items.In the second annual version of The Life 50, many of the most extreme purchases were made in auction houses. Others were simply tremendous displays of wealth by the world’s richest people.
From real estate to cars, jewels to live animals, here are the 50 most ridiculous purchases people made in the past 12 months, from lowest to highest price paid.
The most expensive hot dog ever sold
A hot dog in Little Rock, Ark. sold for $1,501, earning it the title of the most expensive hot dog ever sold.
The hot dog, from a vendor named 'Hot Dog Mike,' was made with a quarter-pound of premium beef and topped with lobster tail, saffron aioli, and gold flakes.
Four of the hot dogs were sold in May. The proceeds were donated to The One Inc., a non-profit organisation focusing on assisting the needs of the homeless in central Arkansas.
Best thrift store find of the year
In April, an Ohio man shopping at a thrift store paid $14.14 for what he thought was a framed poster of a Picasso work.
But the art turned out to most likely be an original linocut print that Picasso made himself for a 1958 exhibition in southern France.
A month later, the man turned around and resold the print to a private buyer for $7,000. Not bad for a thrift store find.
The world's most expensive chocolate egg
In the spirit of Easter, a huge egg made of chocolate sold for $11,200 at auction in March.
London-based designer William Curley's 110-pound egg was hand-made and hand-decorated. It took seven 'artisan chocolatiers' three days to build.
All that effort helped the egg break the Guinness World Record for most expensive non-jeweled chocolate egg sold at auction.
Most expensive tooth from the mouth of a Beatle
John Lennon's tooth--cavity and all--was sold at auction in November 2011 for $31,200, nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.
A Canadian dentist, Michael Zuk, purchased the tooth to display it in his office and to show to other dental schools.
Most expensive prehistoric tooth sold at auction
In December 2011, Bonhams Los Angeles sold a massive tyrannosaurus rex tooth for $56,250, well above its presale high estimate of $30,000.
The tooth was discovered in mid-2011 in Garfield County, Montana. It was one of the largest T. Rex teeth ever found, at just over five inches from base to tip.
The buyer remained anonymous.
The most expensive bottle of Glenfiddich ever sold at auction
A bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve was sold at a charity auction in New York in March.
The 1955 bottle was the third of 11 bottles from that vintage to be released to the public.
They buyer remained anonymous.
The most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold
In July 2011, private wine collector and sommelier Christian Vanneque paid $115,000 for a bottle of 1811 Château d'Yquem, making it the most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold. He purchased the precious bottle from the Antique Wine Company.
The 200-year-old bottle is widely considered to be one of the best Bordeaux wines and one of the best vintages in the world.
The wine earned 100 points from Robert Parker--the highest ranking possible--and another 100 points by the Wine Spectator's Per-Henrik Mason in 1999.
The rare bottle is securely and proudly displayed at Vanneque's restaurant in Bali, SIP Wine Bar. Vanneque said that he plans to drink the wine in 2017.
Most expensive Titanic memorabilia sold in 2012
In April 2012, almost 100 years after the ill-fated ship sank, the first-class passengers' menu of the Titanic's last lunch sold for $122,000 at an auction in London.
The multi-course menu featured everything from grilled mutton chops to salmon mayonnaise.
The menu came from the table of Titanic passenger Dr. Washington Dodge. Dodge was a banker travelling first class from San Francisco with his wife, Ruth, and son, Washington Jr.
Mrs. Dodge slipped the menu into her purse as a souvenir, unaware of how the evening would end. The entire family survived the accident and the menu stayed in the family until it was auctioned at Henry Aldridge and Son.
Most expensive concept work ever sold at auction
A poster advertising the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds are Forever sold for a record-breaking $129,495 at a Christie's auction in London June 2011.
The poster, with artwork by Robert E. McGinnis, set records for both the most expensive concept artwork ever sold at auction, and most expensive James Bond film poster memorabilia also sold at auction.
Most expensive toy in Britain
In April, a rare model battleship made in 1905 sold at an auction in Britain for nearly $140,000. It's believed to be the most expensive toy ever sold in Britain, according to The Daily Mail.
The model, called the HMS Terrible, was a replica of a Royal Navy ship used during the Boer war.
It was made by German toymaker Marklin and had belonged to Ron McCrindell, a collector who died in 2011.
Most expensive bottle of cognac sold at auction
A 153-year-old Cuvée Léonie sold for a world-record price of 1 million RMB (US$156,740) at auction in Paris in September 2011.
That price included not only the liquor, but also a diamond- and gold-encrusted bottle.
The bottle was reportedly given to the great-granddaughter of Leon Croizet, the firm's founder, as part of her wedding dowry in 1892.
Most expensive handbag ever sold at auction
An Hermès handbag encrusted with diamonds officially became the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction when it was purchased for $203,150 at a Heritage Auctions sale in Dallas, Texas in December 2011.
The bag, which is officially called the Hermès Exceptional Collection Shiny Rouge H Porosus Crocodile 30 cm Birkin Bag with Solid 18K White Gold & Diamond Hardware, sold to an anonymous buyer.
The most expensive item sold on eBay Mobile in 2011
An undisclosed eBay user purchased a Mercedes Benz S-Class on eBay's popular mobile app for $212,000 last year. It was the most expensive item sold on eBay Mobile in 2011, the company revealed in December 2011.
For years, eBay has helped people purchase unique hard-to-find items, but the popular app eBay Mobile has helped buyers take their mobile shopping to a whole new level.
The world's largest breasts
20-two surgeries and $250,000 later, Sheyla Hershey now has the world's largest breasts, measuring at a staggering 38KKK.
Hershey broke the record by putting 85 fluid ounces (comparable to a six pack of soda) of saline in each of her implants. She increased her breast size from a B to a KKK, and was featured on TLC's 'My Strange Addiction' in February 2012.
The world's most expensive pigeon
In February a Chinese shipping magnate, Hu Zhen Yu, paid a record-breaking amount--$328,000--for a Dutch fancy pigeon of the Dolce Vita breed.
The bird had been auctioned off in a group of 245 pigeons on the Belgian website Pigeon Paradise, or PIPA.
Hu Zhen Yu bought the bird for breeding, not racing. The sale far exceeded last year's purchase of a similar pigeon for $200,000.
Record price for a Ducati at auction
In May, RM Auctions sold the race-winning GP10 machine ridden by world champion Casey Stoner in the 2010 season at its Monaco sale.
The bike, which went for nearly $400,000, still sold for below its presale low estimate of $470,000. It was sold by the Ducati factory; it was the first time the factory had offered such bikes at public auction.
The priciest .xxx domain name
In December more than 100,000 .xxx domain names went up for sale, and Gay.xxx was purchased for a record-breaking $500,000 by a private buyer.
For comparison, the most expensive domain name ever sold was Sex.com, which sold for $13 million in 2010.
Most expensive tuna ever sold
A 539-pound bluefin tuna caught off the coast of northeastern Japan sold for $736,000 at a Tokyo fish auction in January.
It was a record price for a tuna and also set a record per-pound price at $1,238 per pound.
The winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of a sushi restaurant chain, who said at the time he wanted to help the country recover from economic stagnation associated with the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
One of the first pennies ever minted in the U.S.
A one-cent copper coin sold for $1.38 million at auction in Florida this past January. The coin dates to 1793, the first year that America minted its own coins.
Considering this coin's age, it's virtually flawless.
Most expensive Muhammad Ali memorabilia
At a charity auction in February, casino owner and co-owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship Lorenzo Fertitta dropped an astonishing $1.1 million on a pair of boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali.
Ali wore the gloves 46 years ago during his first Las Vegas title fight. They were sold at a gala and 70th birthday celebration for the boxer to raise money for Alzheimer's, Huntington's, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, which Ali has battled since 1984.
The most expensive original comic book art ever sold
A hand-drawn 1932 Tintin comic book cover of 'Tintin in America' sold for $1.6 million at Paris auction house Artcurial. It was bought by a private collector in June 2012.
The original art, drawn by the Belgian comic book writer and artist Georges Prosper Remi, depicted Tintin, dressed as a cowboy, sitting on a rock with his trusty sidekick snowy at his side, while menacing-looking Native Americans sneak up behind him.
The most expensive mobile home in America
In September 2011, a Malibu mobile home in Paradise Cove sold for $2 million in cash. The real kicker is the $2 million only covered the house, not the land the mobile home sits on.
The sale was the most expensive for a mobile home in 2011, according to AOL Real Estate.
This beauty is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 2,330 square foot movable home.
The most expensive camera ever sold
A very rare 1923 Leica camera sold at auction for $2.8 million in May in Vienna, making it the most expensive camera ever sold.
The German camera still functions and is one of around 25 test versions of Leica 0-Series cameras produced in 1923. Only half of the units made still remain.
The most expensive Oldsmobile ever sold at auction
An unknown buyer bought the immaculately restored, century-old car at an auction run by RM Auctions in late February.
The car, which was part of a collection of classics being auctioned by the Milhous brothers of Florida, was estimated to sell for between $1.4 and $1.6 million.
According to Jalopnik, it was a previous class winner at Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and is the only 1912 Oldsmobile Limited known to have survived the past century.
The most expensive photo ever sold
In November, an anonymous buyer paid a record-breaking $4.34 million for Andreas Gursky's photograph of the Rhine River, called Rhein II.
The snapshot, which sold at Christie's impressionist and modern art auction in New York, beat out Cindy Sherman's Untitled #96, which sold for a whopping $3.89 million at a Christie's sale in May 2011.
Gursky's print, made in 1999, was expected to sell for between $2.5 million and $3.5 million. It depicts a stunning panorama of Germany's most famous river. The sale price includes the buyer's premium.
The most expensive Porsche ever auctioned
A 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am raked in $4.4 million at a Florida auction in March, making it the most expensive Porsche ever sold.
Porsche only built four of these cars, which can go faster than 240 miles per hour. The model was featured in the 1971 Steve McQueen film Le Mans.
The Porsche, which sold at Gooding & Co.'s Amelia Island auction, was never raced and belonged to the collection of the late Porsche collector Matthew Drendel.
The most expensive sports memorabilia ever
Babe Ruth's New York Yankees jersey from 1920 sold for $4.4 million at auction in May to an anonymous buyer.
'New York' is plastered across the front of the jersey, and the inside collar reads 'Ruth, G.H.'
The jersey had been on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore before it was put up for auction.
The most expensive Breguet & Fils watch ever sold at auction
The piece is a rare 18K gold precision watch with two movements. The watch was part of a sale that brought in a total of $32.7 million.
The most expensive ruby ever sold at auction
In May, billionaire heiress Lily Safra sold off a portion of her jewelry collection for charity, bringing in a total of $38 million.
The highlight of the sale was a 32-carat, cushion-shaped Burmese ruby and diamond ring, which sold for $6.7 million.
Amer Radwan, of Dubai's Radwan Diamond and Jewelry Trading, purchased the ring.
The most expensive pearl jewel ever sold at auction
La Peregrina, an enormous pearl set in a necklace of pearls, diamonds, and rubies, was the top lot at a major sale of actress Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry at Christie's in December, selling for $11.8 million to an unnamed buyer.
It had been a gift from Richard Burton, who purchased it at auction for $37,000 in 1969. The pearl was discovered in the Gulf of Panama in the 1500s and later became part of the crown jewels of Spain.
In addition to breaking the auction record for most expensive pearl jewel, it is also the most expensive historic pearl ever sold at auction.
World record for a yellow diamond sold at auction
An anonymous telephone bidder paid a record-breaking $12.4 million, including buyer's premium, for a 110-carat, fancy vivid yellow diamond at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva in November 2011.
It was sold by New York-based Cora International and had been expected to sell in the range of $11 to $15 million.
The stone, known as the Sun-Drop diamond, was one of the largest diamonds to appear at auction in recent years, and its colour makes it even more rare.
It was discovered in South Africa in 2010 and had been on display at London's Natural History Museum.
The most expensive single-family home ever sold in Brooklyn
Dan Houser, co-creator of the uber-successful Grand Theft Auto franchise, purchased Truman Capote's former townhouse in Brooklyn for a record $12.5 million, in March 2012.
Capote rented the garden apartment in the five-story, double-width, high Greek-Revival four-bay townhouse from 1955 to 1965.
This marked the most expensive sale of a single-family home in the increasingly hot borough.
World auction record for ormolu-mounted porcelain
Hotelier Steve Wynn went on an art-buying spree in July, picking up four Chinese vases at a Christie's auction for the record-breaking sum of $12.8 million.
The hotel and casino mogul bought the vases to adorn his new property in Macau, which is slated to open in 2015. He paid far more than the pre-sale estimate of $1.6 million for the set.
The four vases, which are from the Jianqing period (1796 to 1821), set a world auction record for ormolu-mounted porcelain, according to Christie's. They were sold by a private collector.
Most expensive price ever paid for a Stradivarius
In late June 2011, an unidentified bidder paid nearly $16 million for a well-preserved 1721 Stradivarius violin at a London charity event to raise money for victims of the tsunami in Japan.
The final sum was a world record for the price paid for a Stradivarius, beating the old record by over four times, according to auction house Tarisio.
The rare violin was once owned by Lord Byron's granddaughter, Lady Anne Blunt, and carries her name as the 'Lady Blunt' violin.
The largest pink diamond ever sold at auction
The diamond, sold by an American collector, is nicknamed 'The Martian Pink.' It weighs in at 12 carats, and crushed pre-sale estimates of $8 million to $12 million.
The diamond was originally owned by Harry Winston, who named it to honour America's landing of a robot on Mars in 1976.
The most expensive Song dynasty ceramics ever sold at auction
A 900-year-old bowl from the Song dynasty sold for $26.7 million at auction in April, smashing previous auction records.
Bidding for the piece, known as the Ruyao Bowl, went on for 15 minutes before a Sotheby's auctioneer brought down the hammer.
The bowl came from a Japanese collector; the buyer remained anonymous.
Most expensive Henry Moore work ever sold
A large, scale semi-abstract statue of a human figure, made from bronze in 1951 by artist Henry Moore, sold for $30.1 million at Christie's last week. The statue, called 'Reclining Figure: Festival' was the most expensive Henry Moore ever sold.
Cologne-based dealer Alex Lachmann purchased the statue at the London-based auction.
The most expensive car ever sold
An apple green Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 sold in June for $35 million, making it the world's new most expensive car.
mobile phone industry tycoon Craig McCaw purchased the car from current owner Eric Heerema, owner of a vineyard, who had originally bought the car for $8.4 million.
The GTO was originally commissioned for race car driver Stirling Moss.
The most expensive Lichtenstein work ever sold
Roy Lichtenstein's 'Sleeping Girl' was one of the top lots at Sotheby's Contemporary Art sale in May, hammering at $44.8 million and setting a record for the artist.
The painting, which went to an unknown buyer, surpassed the presale estimate of $30 million.
Most expensive home sold in California in the past year
In July, Petra Ecclestone, daughter of Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, purchased the famed 56,000-square-foot Spelling Manor for $85 million--a bargain compared to the original $150 million asking price.
The home had been on the market since 2009, and even with the discount it was one of the most expensive homes ever sold in California.
The house features 123 rooms, three gift wrapping rooms, a gym, a bowling alley, a 100-car parking lot, and much more.
Auction record for any Post-War and Contemporary work of art
Mark Rothko's 'Orange, Red, and Yellow,' a 1961 oil painting, sold at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in New York this May for $86.8 million.
The painting, which sold to an anonymous buyer after a 7-minute bidding war, went for well above its high estimate of $45 million. It also set an auction record for the artist.
The work had come from the collection of David and Gerry Pincus, prominent Philadelphia collectors and philanthropists.
The most expensive apartment ever sold in New York City
The buyer remains unknown.
So what do you get for $90 million? Amazing views of Central Park and 23-foot ceilings.
The most expensive painting ever sold at auction
The buyer of the painting remains anonymous.
The most expensive home in Britain
In August, it emerged that an unnamed Russian tycoon had paid £140 million ($219.3 million) for Park Place, a 300-year-old estate in the village of Remenham, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxon.
The property includes 200 acres of the parklands, listed monuments, a main house, cottages, stables and a boat house, the Telegraph reported at the time.
It was sold by Mike Spink, a developer who bought the property in 2007 and spent several million dollars renovating it.
The most expensive piece of art ever sold
The art world shook this spring when it was revealed in Vanity Fair that the tiny nation of Qatar had purchased Paul Cézanne's painting 'The Card Players' for more than $250 million.
The price is more than double the previous auction record for a painting, and makes the work by far the most expensive piece of art ever sold.
The painting, which 'father of modern art' Cézanne completed at the turn of the century, is one of five in a series. The rest are in museums and major collections including the Museum of Modern Art. It had previously belonged to Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos, who died late last year.
The acquisition was actually made in 2011, but under a veil of secrecy, as so many art purchases are made in Qatar, which has become a leading collector of modern art in recent years.
The ninth-largest yacht in the world
In August 2011, an unknown mogul took delivery of the brand-new Serene, a 440-foot yacht that is believed to be the ninth-largest yacht in the world, for $300 million.
Features include two helicopter landing platforms (one with a hangar), storage for a large submarine, and a huge indoor seawater pool.
While the buyer remains unknown, he's rumoured to be Yuri Schefler, a Russian vodka tycoon.
The most expensive private jet ever sold
Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bought an A380 double decker private jet from Airbus for $500 million.
This is the most expensive private jet ever sold.
Ordered in 2007, this luxury floating palace will reportedly include a garage for two Rolls Royces, a stable for horses and camels, a pen for hawks, a prayer room that always points to Mecca, and seating capacity for 460 passengers.
The most expensive sports team purchase ever
Though sports teams tend to cost millions (and even billions) of dollars, a new record was made in March 2012 when Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for $2 billion.
The sale was finalised in May 2012, making it the most expensive sports team purchase ever.
Before this, the most expensive sports team purchase was Manchester United, which was bought by Malcolm Glazer in 2005 for $1.47 billion.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.