During his public appearances, Pope Francis regularly offers blessings, prays with visitors and even poses for selfies. Last week, he acquiesced to perhaps the strangest request yet, agreeing to trade his white skull cap for a newer, matching model.
The swap was initiated by the men and women behind “Le Iene,” a satirical Italian TV show, who planned to auction the old cap online to benefit charity, Time reported. Sure enough, the papal hat appeared on eBay, Sept. 17, and was sold this week for more than $130,000. The proceeds will go to “an Italian charity fighting child mortality in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Time explained.
Although it was a unique experience for Pope Francis, the auctioning of religious items of celebrities for large amounts of money is common. Here are four more items that inspired big bids on the auction block:
1. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Bible
Roosevelt’s personal Bible was sold by RR Auction House in mid-September during an auction of various presidential artifacts. Roosevelt, “an Episcopalian and quietly spiritual leader,” kept the book in the family living quarters of the White House while he was in office, the item description explained. The Bible sold for $21,250.
2. The Dalai Lama’s chair
In 2008, Colgate University’s Presidents’ Club sold a chair specially made for the Dalai Lama for $25,000 at its annual auction, the campus newsletter reported. The extra-wide armchair had been made to accommodate the Tibetan Buddhist’s typical cross-legged pose. Stickley Furniture, the company that designed the chair, continues to sell the model today for the bargain price of $9,999.
3. Elvis Presley’s Bible
The King of Rock and Roll is also king of the auction block. Sales of Elvis-related items continue to make headlines 37 years after his death. In 2012, The Christian Post reported on the incredible $94,600 winning bid for his personal Bible, which included margin notes made by Elvis throughout his life.
4. John F. Kennedy’s rosary beads
The late president’s well-worn set of rosary beads was one of the most publicized items of a 290-piece Kennedy family collection auctioned last year by RR Auction, The Boston Globe reported. Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of the auction house, told the newspaper that he expected it to attract the highest bids. The final sale price wasn’t disclosed.
5. Albert Einstein’s “God letter”
Although less about God than its nickname implies, Einstein’s “God letter” captured the imagination of believers and nonbelievers alike when it was auctioned in 2008 and again in 2012. In the letter, sent a few months before his death, Einstein explored “several philosophical and theological themes,” explaining to Jewish philosopher Erik Gutkind why he didn’t believe in God, The Huffington Post reported. Originally sold at auction for $404,000, the letter brought in more than $3 million when it was listed on eBay in 2012, the article explained.
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