Most of the top bids for the Year2000.com domain, including the $10 million high bid, turned out to be pranks, said Cliff Kurtzman, president and chief executive of Tenagra Corp., which registered the domain. Although a $2 million bid turned out to be legitimate, Kurtzman said the bidder withdrew it after the auction ended.
Several other bidders made offers in the $1 million range, but Kurtzman said Tenagra and its partner, Canadian consultant Peter de Jager, would not accept those offers. Instead of repeating the "the lengthy bidding process," Kurtzman said the partnership would sell its rights to the domain name through a private sale.
"We are disappointed that the bidding process on eBay was flawed for items of such large value, but we still believe that the domain name holds exceptional value for the right party," Kurtzman said in a statement.
eBay does not require sellers to sell to the next-highest bidder if the high bid turns out to be a fake.
eBay said yesterday that after investigating the top three bids, it had determined that two of them were pranks and one was withdrawn. eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the bidders who made the prank offers would have their eBay accounts suspended, but he said the company was trying other avenues to cut down on false bids.
"It's an issue of very real concern to our sellers," he said.
The Year2000.com partnership listed its domain name on eBay on Dec. 22 in a private auction, meaning that eBay kept the bidders' names confidential. The auction concluded on Jan. 1.
The Year2000.com partnership put its domain name rights up for sale on eBay because of eBay's name recognition and its low commission rates, Kurtzman said. Although the auction didn't end in a sale, the publicity surrounding the auction probably raised the value of the domain, he said.
"We're still cautiously optimistic that we can put a deal together," Kurtzman said in an interview with CNET News.com. "The auction was an interesting experiment."