$500,000 will buy you a copy of Charlie Hebdo online

The first issue after the attack sold in record numbers.
The first issue after the attack sold in record numbers.
Image: Reuters/Luke MacGregor
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Today in awful human beings: online sellers trying to rake in cash from a tragedy that shook the world and left 17 dead.

Vendors on Craigslist and eBay are selling copies of three different issues of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine whose Paris offices were attacked by terrorists in early January. One vendor, posting on New York’s Craigslist suggests you hand over $500,000 for a controversial issue from 2011, featuring the prophet Muhammad on the cover saying: “A hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing.

The Village Voice identified the seller as Patrick Legrain, who lives in France. In an email to Quartz he said he posted the ad in New York because “New Yorkers don’t forget 9/11” and they have the money to buy the “collector” item. He said that he doesn’t think $500,000 is expensive, comparing it to postings in France, which are indeed even higher.  He added that what was expensive were the 17 dead.

Another pricey magazine is the one that features controversial French author Michel Houellebecq, whose new novel is set in a France run by Muslims, saying “In 2022, I will do Ramadan.” This issue, said to have brought on the recent tragedy, is going on eBay for $275,000. People are also trying to make money off of the first issue after the attack, asking in one case for $45,000.The newsstand price is $3.40 and seven million copies were printed (versus Charlie Hebdo’s regular circulation of 60,000).

To be fair, some of the vendors, most of whom are based in Europe, are tacking on a charitable cause to their moneymaking schemes (even if they’re still planning on pocketing most of what they make). Using eBay’s “Giving Works” feature, they say they will donate 10% of their profit to charities such as UNICEF or the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. One ad says part of the profits will go to the victims of the attack, and part for “two unemployed who will use the money to open their own small business.”Another says that the thousands a buyer spends on the magazine will be an ”investment” to “help people suffering in the world.”

While these outlandish asking prices are unlikely to attract buyers two weeks after the tragedy, people are actually willing to pay a significant amount. Many bid over $150 for the magazine that incited the attack.

And this ghoulish industry doesn’t end with magazines. Amazon is brimming with “Je Suis Charlie” T-shirts and sweatshirts, and Etsy with cufflinks, mugs and iPhone cases.