New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) Imagine shelling out Rs.100,000 for a used towel! A lot of people might, if the towel belonged to a celebrity. From clothes to cricket bats - Indians are fast opening up to the idea of bidding for celebrity memorabilia online.
'People have started buying such merchandise nowadays. And there are various reasons to it - some buy them for the resale value of an item, some go for it because they are a fan of the celebrity or some just want to give for charity,' Deepa Thomas, senior manager (Pop Culture) at eBay, told IANS.
Thomas says the craze among people for celebrity memorabilia started around 2005. A Salman fan paid as much as Rs.100,000 for his used towel.
Thomas says her company decided to cash in on the demand in 2005 only and the trend is now scaling high.
'The money people are ready to shell out for such memorabilia's depends on how rare the item is and also on the brand power of the celebrity. Between 2005 -2008, ebay has earned Rs.1.8 crore through sale of personalised celebrity auctions,' added Thomas.
Kolkata-based Riddhi Nair decided to bid for Olympic gold-medalist Vijender Singh's boxing gloves auctioned on choreographer-director Farah Khan's chat show 'Tere Mere Beach Mein' because she was moved by the way his mother brought him up.
She spent Rs.17,800 for the item and says she will treasure it like 'heirloom' forever.
'I happened to see the repeat telecast of 'Tere Mere Beach Mein' where Vijender's mother spoke about how she never bought a new sari for herself for a long time so that she doesn't have to compromise on her son's training. It left me very emotional.
'I was touched to see his rising - from a remote village to being a world champion. It's very thought provoking. It is the perfect example for my daughter that she must always do something big in life,' said Nair, a 33-year-old housewife.
Another motivation for Nair to bid was that the money will be transferred to Mumbai-based NGO Sneha, which works towards quality nutrition, education and health care of women and children.
Nitin Jain, a 39-year-old investor, bid for Priyanka Chopra's autographed Gavin Maguel designer dress auctioned on Farah's show. He paid Rs.50,000 for the outfit.
Jain says he often bids for items if the proceeds go for charity, but also had a special eye on Priyanka's dress as his 15-year-old daughter is a huge fan of the actress.
'Recently, there were several items that were auctioned on 'Tere Mere Beach Mein' - the chat show on STAR Plus. We had bid for many of them and were, in fact, the second highest bidders for Bipasha Basu's shoes. But my daughter is a Priyanka Chopra fan - so she also wanted it,' said Jain, who is based in New Delhi.
Other items sold through the show include Shahid Kapoor's cap for Rs.28,500, Kareena Kapoor's blue dress for Rs.22,300, Yusuf Khan's cricket bat for Rs.60,750, et al.
Selling celebrity memorabilia also makes business sense for celebrities themselves at times, says small screen actor Sachin Sharma, who launched a web portal called sbuy two months ago. TV and movie stars can auction their items through the site.
'There are many celebrities in India who don't get their due. And when they land in tough times and need money, they can turn to such auctions. I had a friend from the industry who wanted to sell his car but wasn't getting the right price from the dealer. But he struck a much better deal with a fan,' said Sharma, who was seen in 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii'.
Sharma's website has already had 300,000 hits in two months, he claims it is evidence to the demand of such items nowadays.
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at [email protected])