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'Second Life' mints a millionaire?

It may be hard to believe, but apparently, the virtual world Second Life has produced its first millionaire.

According to a press release from Second Life real estate mogul Anshe Chung, also known by her real-world name, Ailin Graef, an initial $9.95 investment into an account in the virtual world has now been parlayed into a million dollars' worth of in-world assets and currency.

"Anshe Chung's achievement is all the more remarkable because the fortune was developed over a period of two and a half years from an initial investment of $9.95 for a Second Life," Graef wrote on her Web site. "Anshe/Ailin achieved her fortune by beginning with small-scale purchases of virtual real estate which she then subdivided and developed with landscaping and themed architectural builds for rental and resale."

Not everyone is convinced the news is true. Rob Hof, the Business Week reporter who wrote a cover story on Chung, is skeptical. He writes this morning that he finds it hard to believe someone could make a million dollars in a virtual world.

Me, I'm not so sure. Second Life is big business, and like any market, the few dominate the many. And there's no doubt that Chung is dominant there.

As to whether she's really worth a million, well, we'll probably never know. But she is certainly a master of public relations, and that's worth a lot in and of itself.