Mr Usher, 44, originally from Darlington, County Durham, has put his entire
life up for grabs on the online auction site eBay, with a starting price of
one Australian dollar. On offer, is his marital home, his Mazda car and a
140mph Kawasaki motorbike.
The successful bidder will also receive an array of gadgets enabling them to
enjoy his sun-drenched Australian lifestyle to the full, including a jet
ski, a set of kite-surfing gear, bodyboards and a mountain bike.
His three-bedroom, two-bathroom open-plan home is located in the leafy suburb
of Wellard, a half-hour’s train ride from Perth city centre. It boasts a
projector television with a 6ft screen that can be viewed from the garden,
which contains a courtyard and outdoor spa. Although such seemingly madcap
schemes always have an element of the hoax about them, Mr Usher claims he is
totally serious and hopes his job-lot will fetch at least $500,000
Mr Usher emigrated to Australia six years ago, and became an Australian
citizen in 2006. “My life here is absolutely fantastic,” he said
on his website. “But I just want to make a clean break and start again,
so I am selling everything, lock, stock and barrel, from the contents of my
wardrobe to my kettle, and from my cutlery to my car. Laura and I chose the
house together and intended it to be our family home. Despite my life being
busy and fulfilled, I still miss my wife so much. Everything around me is
simply a reminder of the wonderful past we shared.”
Mr Usher, who spent the 1990s living in Scarborough, will also provide the
person who buys his ready-made life with open access to his friends and
details of his favourite bars, restaurants and night spots. That person will
even be given a fortnight’s trial with his employer, a Perth rug retailer.
The 100-day countdown to the auction, which will begin on 22 June and continue
for seven days, began on Friday when Mr Usher’s website went live. Potential
buyers can get a preview of his life on a website, www.alife4sale.com, which
contains blogs and videos detailing what is on offer.
The homepage opens, cheerily, with the words: “Hi there, my name is Ian
Usher, and I have had enough of my life! I don’t want it any more! You can
have it if you like! No, I’m not contemplating suicide, I am going to sell
my life! I have my reasons. However, I am still not sure whether this is
inspired madness, complete foolishness, or just some sort of mid-life
crisis. Whatever it is, it’s all going up for sale in one big auction.
Everything I have and everything I am.”
Mr Usher said the idea had come from one of his friends, Bruce, who, during a
particularly black period, had come up with the notion of selling his life
through an advertisement in the Sunday papers. Though Bruce never actually
went through with it, Mr Usher was impressed with the idea and remembered it
during long hours mulling over his troubles while working 12-hour shifts as
a long-distance truck driver.
“My aim is to walk away at the end of the eBay auction with my wallet in
one pocket and my passport in the other.” he said on the website.
Mr Usher, who has no children, admitted he was “a bit vague” on what
he would do once the sale was made, but said he would probably return to
Darlington to visit his family for a while before travelling around the
world. “But I feel that Australia is my home,” he added.
Mr Usher, a bachelor of education, worked at a variety of jobs before leaving
England. He was an outdoor education teacher, and a second-hand car
salesman. He operated a jet-ski business for five years in Scarborough,
hired out bicycles, published magazines, ran wedding cars and fitted luxury
In the late 1990s he visited Australia with his partner, Laura. The couple
fell in love with the country, and after a second trip Down Under a year
later, decided to move there. They got married in 2000, sold up, and moved
to Perth in late 2001.
As he relates on his website: “I met and married the best girl in the
world. I loved her with all my heart and she loved me too.
“However, after over 12 years together and five years of fantastic
married happiness I was hit with a bolt from the blue.
“I often think of the line from The Sunscreen Song by Baz Luhrmann, which
goes, ‘The real troubles in your life are the kind that blindside you at 4
pm on some idle Tuesday’.
“I was blindsided at about 11pm on a Wednesday evening by a shocking and
awful discovery.” That discovery two years ago was that his wife had
found someone else.
“I worked away, did a couple of different jobs, then moved in to this
house. We’d bought the land and built it for both of us,” he said. “When
I moved back in I just thought, I can’t live here ? I really don’t want to
“This wasn’t a hasty decision, it isn’t a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve
thought about it.”
Mr Usher admits that after Laura left, he was uncertain what to do with all
their furniture and belongings. He considered selling them piece by piece,
in the local paper; sending them all to auction; offering them to friends;
or putting them in storage. But every other option seemed time-consuming and
emotionally draining. Then he remembered Bruce’s idea.
During the lead-up to the auction, Mr Usher plans to publish a longer version
of his life story in four online “books”, one every month between
now and June.
Part one, which is already available, tells of his life in the UK before
moving to Australia, and explains how he met and fell in love with Laura.
Parts two to four have yet to be written.
In just three days, Mr Usher’s plan has attracted attention. On a newspaper
website, a Melbourne woman asked: “Can a woman purchase your life or
would that make for a different dynamic in any respect? Secondly do you
expect to walk away with your copyright royalties along with your passport?”
He replied: “Yes, my life could be purchased by anyone, man, woman,
couple, family ? location, house, lifestyle, etc would suit anyone. I
haven’t deliberately targeted it at single males.”
Mr Usher, who said it had not occurred to him that his plan could form the
basis for a book, although “it would be marvellous if Hollywood came
knocking on the door”, added to his reply: “In terms of copyright,
I guess my story is my story, and if anyone was interested in using it, I
would expect to have control over that.
“However, the new buyer would have their own story to tell, after all,
they would be the first person to do this, and would obviously have control
over their own tale. Interesting questions… at such an early stage!”
Mr Usher is not the first person to auction his life on eBay.
Last year another Australian, Nicael Holt, offered his existence to the
highest bidder, in a package that included his name, phone number, worldly
possessions, circle of friends, and eight “potential lovers”.
Mr Holt, a 24-year-old philosophy student, also offered a repertoire of six
jokes, a broken relationship with an ex-girlfriend, and a four-week training
course in “becoming me”, including his fashion sense, food tastes
and “style of seduction”. He offered to teach the buyer his
skills, including surfing, skateboarding and handstands.
The possessions offered included Mr Holt’s collection of 300 CDs, childhood
photographs, and a collection of body piercings. An unknown buyer eventually
bought his life for $7,500 (£3,470).
Also last year, a 24-year-old man put one of his kidneys on eBay, with bidding
starting at £60,500. His ad was spotted by website regulators and removed,
but not before dozens of people had replied.
On Mr Usher’s breezily eccentric website, he extols the delights of the Perth
lifestyle to potential bidders. “The weather here is fantastic, hot and
sunny all summer, and cool and mild in the winter,” he writes.
“This encourages an outdoor lifestyle, and life in Perth revolves around
the beaches, the river, the parks and the cafes, and of course the many
public BBQs freely available all over the city.”
In case the reader is not suitably impressed, he includes links to reviews of
Perth, and also videos showing Mr Usher visiting the beach and walking his
The website also contains footage of him skydiving, jet-skiing, snowboarding,
kite surfing, riding his motorbike and kart racing. In the coming weeks, the
website will feature YouTube video clips of his close friends, who ? he
claims ? are prepared to transfer their allegiance to the person who buys
These friends include Melanie, Em, Paula, Jo, Monique and Rani. None was
available for comment at press time.
‘Soul for sale, slightly scratched’ ? the oddest online auctions
*Kyle MacDonald, a 26-year-old Canadian, realised his dream of owning
his own home by using the internet to swap 14 separate, increasingly
Starting with a red paperclip, he traded up through a novelty doorknob, a
camping stove, a snowmobile, a recording contract, and an afternoon with
rock star Alice Cooper. The idea was inspired by a child’s game called
Bigger and Better, but Mr MacDonald created a website devoted to the project
and promised to visit potential traders wherever they were. By July 2006 he
was preparing to move into a house in Kipling, Saskatchewan, a place he had
never visited before.
*Adam Burtle, a US university student, offered his soul for sale on
eBay in February 2001, warning bidders: “I make no warranties as to the
condition of the soul. As of now, it is near mint, with only minor scratches.”
Bidding hit $400 (£197) before eBay called it off, prompting Mr Burtle, 20,
to concede: “I’m a geek. Any time I’m bored, I go back to the internet.”
An eBay spokesperson said: “You have to have a piece of merchandise a
seller can deliver to a buyer.”
*Diane Duyser, from Florida, staged an auction of a 10-year-old image
of the Virgin Mary on a toasted sandwich, which she claims had brought her
luck, including $70,000 in gambling winnings. The auction was viewed 1.7
million times before GoldenPalace.com, an online casino, paid $28,000 for
the sandwich in November 2004 to take it on tour.
*Rosie Reid, an 18-year-old Bristol University social policy student,
tried to cut her debts by auctioning her virginity in January 2004. She
received 400 offers before eBay halted the auction. Reid continued it on her
own website and claimed to have accepted £8,400 from a 44-year-old BT
engineer. She said she would rather sleep with a stranger than face poverty.
*In December 2002, Joe and Elizabeth Lapple used eBay to auction
Bridgeville, a largely-uninhabited 82-acre town 260 miles north of San
Francisco. It drew almost 250 bids, including a late offer of $1,777,877
from a buyer who did not appear. The land, including a post office and a
cemetery, had been owned by the Lapples since 1985. It was the first town
offered in an online auction
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