May 29, 2013 at 5:11 PM ET
There are some things that are never for sale, not even on eBay. A place in heaven is among them. A New Jersey man posted such a listing as a joke, he says, but was inundated with bids that reached $100,000 before the listing was pulled by the online auction giant.
"I didn't think anyone would take it seriously," Ari Mandel, who put up the listing, told NBC News.
"It's gotten way more attention than I expected. I really didn't expect it to blow up and go crazy the way it did."
Mandel, an Army veteran and student at New York University, said with school now done for the semester, he decided to post the "low-burning idea" he'd been kicking around on eBay Tuesday.
Little did he realize that 181 people would not only bid on it, but he would get hundreds of emails, phone calls and Facebook messages. Many were from people asking him what the heck he was doing, but he also got equal numbers of responses from those who thought the listing was funny.
But the listing was removed the same day it went up. An eBay spokesman told NBC News the offer of heaven was in violation of the auction site's "No Item" policy. That policy, spelled out here, says: "We don't allow listings that aren't offering anything for sale or those that have intangible items (generally things don't physically exist)."
Under "listings with no items," eBay goes on to say that intangible items are "things that people won't be able to use or be able to confirm whether they've received the items."
Other intangibles including the selling of one's soul: "Listings that offer someone's 'soul' or a container that claim to have someone's 'soul' are not allowed." And, forget about trying to sell magic potions, spells and curses: those intangibles are cursed as sale items.
Mandel posted "My Portion in Olam Habaah (Heaven)" with bids starting at 99 cents. Among the bidders' comments, he said, were these:
need to know more b4 I can bid on it . What's the approximate square footage , with what amenities does it come with , and what's the location? Is it in the prime area or more in the back?
Can you tell me where in heaven this portion is? For the price you are asking, I want to make sure I am in prime real estate somewhere over a rainbow, right between the lord and a few angels.
"I really didn't expect it to blow up and go crazy the way it did," said Mandel, 30, who said he has received calls from around world, including from a reporter in Israel. "It was a goofy little joke."