In three separate auctions on eBay, bidding has hit over $100 for stock certificates from the now defunct Webvan and the struggling Drkoop, which closed at a measly 14 cents a share on the over-the-counter market Wednesday.
"My investment disaster is now a piece of history," the seller of one of the Drkoop certificates wrote in a note to potential bidders. "This is an authentic canceled stock certificate. Here's your chance to own a page of history."
David Van Middlesworth, the high bidder on the auction, said he was trying to do just that. Van Middlesworth, who works for a start-up software firm in Santa Monica, Calif., said he wanted to buy the Drkoop certificate for his 1-year-old daughter.
"My wife and I are pretty heavily involved in the Internet economy, so we wanted her to know what it was like," he said.
The auctions have become a sort of art form in themselves, drawing huge numbers of gawkers. A ticker on the Drkoop auction showed that 15,000 people had stopped by to look, while the Webvan auction drew nearly 20,000 page views.
With two days remaining in the auction, there were 18 bids on the Webvan stock certificate, with the price reaching $127.50. Webvan stock traded at less than 10 cents per share when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 12.
Drew Warmington, the current high bidder on the auction, is the managing partner of Newport Beach, Calif.-based start-up iLeads.com. He said he wanted to buy the certificate as a reminder for him and his company.
"I thought it would be a really good reminder to me of what you could do with a billion dollars and no discipline," Warmington said. "I thought I would frame that thing and put it up on my wall and remind myself that overhead still matters."
One of the two Drkoop certificates drew a high bid of $49.25 on Wednesday while the other languished at $20. Van Middlesworth, who is vice president of operations at Strategic Data, acknowledged that it would have been cheaper to just buy a share of Drkoop on the stock market.
"I have a feeling that the price (of the certificate) is going to go much higher if it catches on," Van Middlesworth said. "If somebody really wants it, then it will probably end up costing more than I want to spend."
Although eBay prohibits the sale of stock on its site, the company permits sellers to auction expired stock certificates or certificates from defunct companies. The Securities and Exchange Commission allows the sale of stock certificates as art or for prices that are at least twice their actual value--a safe bet for Webvan and Drkoop certificates.
The sellers and eBay representatives did not return calls seeking comment.