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.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 most ridiculous purchases people made in the past 12 months, from lowest to highest price paid.
1.A Colt revolver sold for $977,500
The most expensive single firearm ever sold at open auction
A Cali Paterson Colt revolver sold for $977,500 at auction in September 2011, surpassing the previous record firearm auction price of $920,000, also for a Colt revolver.
The buyer was described as a “Silicon Valley mogul.”
2.An Hermès Birkin bag sold for $203,150
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.
3.A woman paid $250,000 to have size 38KKK breasts
The world’s largest breasts
Twenty-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.
4.A Chinese businessman paid $328,000 for a pigeon
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.
5.A bluefin tuna sold for $736,000
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.
6.A photograph sold for $4.34 million
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.
7.A Babe Ruth Yankee jersey sold for $4.4 million
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.
8.A 900-year-old bowl sold for $26.7 million
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.
9.A Henry Moore statue sold for $30.1 million
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.
10.A Ferrari GTO sold for $35 million
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.
Cellphone 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.
11.Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, and Yellow” sold for $86.8 million
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.
12.Britain’s Park Place estate sold for $219.3 million
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.
13.A mega yacht sold for $300 million
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 rumored to be Yuri Schefler, a Russian vodka tycoon
14.A Saudi prince bought a private jet for $500 million
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.
15.John Lennon’s tooth sold for $31,200
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.