Thursday, September 20, 2007

eBay halts sale of Belgium

Internet auction website eBay today withdrew an unusual second-hand sale item, the country of Belgium, which had attracted an offer of 10 million euros ($A16.68 million).

"Belgium, a kingdom in three parts" was posted on the Belgian eBay site as offering "plenty of choice" despite the caveat that it comes with "300 billion of National Debt".

Offered in three parts - Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia - the accompanying blurb said the kingdom "can be bought as a whole (not recommended)".

The vendor also included as added extras "the king and his court (costs not included)".

EBay spokesman Peter Burin said the site could not host the sale of anything virtual or "unrealistic", the Belga news agency reported.

The 'vendor' was named as a former journalist, Gerrit Six. Offering his lot at an initial price of one euro ($A1.67), he saw 26 subsequent bids culminating in the 10 million euro offer today before the auction was halted.

The spoof sale was offered while Belgium is mired in a political crisis which has led to discussion over the country's future as a federal state.

Tomorrow marks 100 days since the country's general election with no sign of a coalition government being formed by the political parties in Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia.

According to the eBay spokesman, it wasn't the first time Belgium had been put up for sale.

"But the last time it wasn't a Belgian who made the announcement and it wasn't as well done or as amusing," said Burin.

www.theage.com.au

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