You Know It's Bad When: Saddam Hussein Memorabilia Isn't Selling

A bizarre cottage industry born out of the war in Iraq carries a few lessons about humans and the economy. One, Saddam Hussein was one of the most iconic tyrants of the 20th century. Two, even the niche dictator memorabilia market is not immune from the recession.


The fascination with all things Saddam began immediately after the Iraqi dictator was deposed in 2003. In the days following his brutal regime, a number of items made the rounds online including dinar notes bearing Saddam’s likeness and a fork from one of his palaces, both of which sold for over $100 on eBay. Chunks allegedly from Saddam's statue in Baghdad’s Fardus Square appeared soon after shoe-slapping Iraqis and US soldiers yanked his likeness down. The statue bits were later revealed to be fake.

George W. Bush got in on the fun snapping up the pistol brandished by Hussein when he was captured by U.S. forces. After this, Saddamerobilia soon began to fetch obscene prices. Saddam's diamond-encrusted Rolex was sold for $150,000; his favorite Dior sunglasses garnered $12,000; and a Cartier pen used for execution orders saw a $5,000 price tag. There was no word on how these items made it from Iraq to the collectibles market, but the mini-industry stalled when the motherload went up for sale last year.

The Iraqi government hoped to get $30 million for a 270-foot luxury yacht, the Ocean Breeze, once belonging to Saddam but rarely used. In a recession-pinched auction market, the ship didn’t see any bids and eventually sailed back to Basra. It looked like buyers had realized the tackiness of Saddamerobilia and demand for the items would abate. But in retrospect, it was most likely the global economic downturn that kept Hussein’s pleasure vessel without an owner.

The dinars with Saddam's portrait are still up for auction but only sell for a few dollars now, as is a random document signed by Saddam, which hasn't received any bids yet but is looking for a winning offer of $510. As with overall the decline in the art market, Saddam-themed collectibles--we can't really call them art--have taken a hit. Will an upswing in Sadaamerobila mean the economy is back on track or will the recession quench the taste for all things dictatorial?

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

22 months of war - condensed in a 1-minute video

No, the Syrian civil war is not over. But it might be soon. Time for a recap

Strange Maps
  • The War in Syria has dropped off the radar, but it's not over (yet)
  • This 1-minute video shows how the fronts have moved – and stabilised – over the past 22 months
  • Watching this video may leave you both better informed, and slightly queasy: does war need a generic rock soundtrack?
Keep reading Show less

Bespoke suicide pods now available for death in style

Sarco assisted suicide pods come in three different styles, and allow you to die quickly and painlessly. They're even quite beautiful to look at.

The Sarco assisted suicide pod
Technology & Innovation

Death: it happens to everyone (except, apparently, Keanu Reeves). But while the impoverished and lower-class people of the world die in the same ol' ways—cancer, heart disease, and so forth—the upper classes can choose hip and cool new ways to die. Now, there's an assisted-suicide pod so chic and so stylin' that peeps (young people still say peeps, right?) are calling it the "Tesla" of death... it's called... the Sarco! 

Keep reading Show less

How to bring more confidence to your conversations

Entrepreneur and author Andrew Horn shares his rules for becoming an assured conversationalist.

content.jwplatform.com
Videos
  • To avoid basing action on external validation, you need to find your "authentic voice" and use it.
  • Finding your voice requires asking the right questions of yourself.
  • There are 3-5 questions that you would generally want to ask people you are talking to.
Keep reading Show less