May 7, 2005 Good fortune it seems, comes in many different ways. When a young German, Benjamin Halbe, bought a second-hand 1999 Volkswagen Golf six months ago, the car’s former owners were not even a consideration. The car had clearly been well cared for and was in excellent condition. But when one of the former owners, one Josef Ratzinger, became Pope Benedict XVI with a billion Catholic followers, the young German decided to put the car up for auction on EBay Germany. His 9500 euro investment returned a handsome dividend earlier this week when the auction closed at 188,938 euros (US$245,000). The publicity associated with the vehicle being auctioned focussed massive attention on the auction, and helped the auction page get viewed a massive 8.4 million times. Such was the congestion at the eBay server as the minutes ticked down towards the end of the auction that news sources in Germany now suggest that the auction price might have gone much higher had several bidders been able to get through to place much higher bids. The winning bid was reportedly placed about one minute prior to the end of the auction at 7.30pm Berlin time on Ascension day, May 5.
The winning bidder was an on-line casino based in Antigua.
“GoldenPalace.com is delighted to own this holy vehicle,” said GoldenPalace.com CEO Richard Rowe. “We have amassed a collection of what many consider to be holy artifacts. It seems only natural to get a blessed vehicle to carry these items. We are planning to showcase our acquisitions by bringing them on tour and allowing people to enjoy the experience of sitting in the divine car, in an effort to raise as much money for charity as possible.”
One final note - subsequent to the auction it became known that Pope Benedict XVI had never owned a drivers license, so whilst he may have owned and travelled in the Golf, he certainly didn't drive it.