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AOL discs heat up on eBay auctions

Those persistent CDs that seem to never stop arriving in your mailbox make the jump from junk to jewel, as special celebrity-designed versions see bids of more than $75.

AOL's program discs--those persistent CDs that seem to never stop arriving in your mailbox--are making the jump from junk to jewel.

Touting the launch of version 8.0 of its online service, AOL has released a series of collectible discs sporting designs by celebrities such as movie star Tom Cruise and fashion designer Donna Karan. The discs--and the original artwork behind them--are now showing up on eBay and selling for $36 on up.

But even AOL's plain-Jane discs are for sale on eBay, with one bidder offering $5.50 for a set of five sealed tins containing the program discs.

One bidder who won an auction for an AOL disc designed by Karan and another one signed by actresses Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, said he bid on the discs for his girlfriend who was interested in the "designer theme."

"I personally don't have much interest and collect other things," said the bidder, who agreed to pay $150 for the two discs.

eBay has seen its share of strange or unique collectibles. Earlier this year, for instance, a pair of guitars once owned by Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia were put up for auction on the site. Other sellers have tried to offer everything from pieces of the Mir space station to the U.S. presidency.

AOL produced eight different designer CDs and printed 1,000 copies of each, a company representative said. The company distributed the collectible discs at Bloomingdale's retail store in New York on the day it launched the new version of its service.

In a series of auctions that closed over the weekend, sellers bid on a collection of the designer CDs. Karan's disc proved to be the most valuable, with a winning bid of $77. Basketball star Magic Johnson's disc brought in the smallest winning bid: $36.

Meanwhile, AOL has begun offering the original artwork used to design the discs on eBay as part of a charity auction. With bidding scheduled to end on Friday, pop singer Enrique Iglesias' artwork appears to be the most in demand, with a current high bid of $405. In contrast, bidding on accessories designer Kate Spade's artwork is currently at a relatively modest $102.50.

Proceeds from those auctions will go to charities designated by the celebrities. Karan, Spade and actress Elizabeth Hurley have chosen the Breast Cancer Research Foundation as the beneficiary of their auctions.