Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Ultimate Veblen Good

Curtis Eaton (here), myself, (here and here) and many others have written on Veblen goods: goods that are valued largely as symbols of social status. Perhaps this is the ultimate Veblen good:
Los Angeles Times (Aug 25, 2009): It was a day of ups and downs when the online bidding ended Monday for the crypt above Marilyn Monroe.
Elsie Poncher, whose husband Richard Poncher is entombed in the crypt at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park, said she wanted to sell it to pay off the more than $1-million mortgage on her Beverly Hills home.
A bidder from Japan appeared to be the winner of the EBay auction, with an offer of $4,602,100 -- $100 more than the next highest bid.
In addition to being above Marilyn Monroe, it was once owned by Joe DiMaggio and the tomb next to it is owned by Hugh Hefner. My favorite quote from the article:
Elsie Poncher, who is in her 70s, plans to move her husband's remains to the crypt designated for her, and when the time comes, she'll be cremated. She said that when her husband was dying, he made a request. "He said, 'If I croak, if you don't put me upside down over Marilyn, I'll haunt you the rest of my life.' "

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