published Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

The high price of celebrity worship

How much would you pay for a piece of history?

I suppose that depends on what it is, doesn't it? To some people, "historic" could mean a suit worn by one of The Beatles for the cover shoot for "Please Please Me," a revolver owned by Wyatt Earp or one of James Dean's motorcycles.

As a perennially poor writer, investing thousands of dollars in anything short of a house strikes me as borderline lunatic, but there's certainly an argument to be made for memorabilia as financial investments.

That being said, I think even the most-ardent collector would do a double take at the bidding war that has erupted for Miley Cyrus' film camera. With five days left in the eBay auction, 161 bids have been made for her Nikon N80, and the current top dog is willing to pony up $95,200 -- plus $18.35 shipping -- to take it home.

What makes this camera special? Was it used on-set during the "Wrecking Ball" shoot, does it spew rainbows or include dinner with the mentally teetering starlet?

Nope. For $1,000 more than the going rate of a brand new Jaguar F-Type convertible, you get ... a camera. The same model used, albeit not by the hands of Hannah Montana, sells for just $49 on Amazon.

To be fair, Cyrus wasn't out to make a lot of money, at least not initially. The auction doesn't list her name anywhere, and the minimum bid was just $20. It wasn't until the singer reached out to her more than 14 million Twitter followers and mentioned the auction -- in a since-deleted post -- that the price skyrocketed.

I don't get it -- as I said, I'm poor -- so to me, the whole situation seems staggeringly idiotic, but eBay is a strange place, and many bizarre things are for sale there. Such as:

* Haitian voodoo priest Rene Mingo will perform a voodoo spell -- any wish! -- for a mere $8.97, with free expedited shipping. (Only three remain, though, so act fast.)

* For $150,000, a man is offering his entire back as a space for a tattooed advertisement.

* If you want a 19-year-old, petrified orange, it can be yours for $9,000.

With enough patience and a large enough bank balance, you can pick up almost anything online. In Amazon's newly opened fine arts section, for example, you can buy a Norman Rockwell original oil-on-canvas, "Willie Gillis: Package From Home," for $4.9 million.

Compared to that, Cyrus' camera seems like a steal, but then again, the Rockwell comes with free shipping.

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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