Boston Marathon Bombing ‘Memorabilia’ Hits eBay

Apr 18, 2013 6:45am
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Credit: eBay

In the wake of the Boston marathon bombing Monday, people who have turned to eBay to sell race memorabilia and other “support Boston” merchandise are already facing backlash.

Marathon participant jackets and shirts, volunteer jackets, a medical volunteer jacket still in its original packaging, pins, beer openers and mugs, posters, car decals, even medals are among the 2013 Boston marathon memorabilia items being auctioned off on the online marketplace.

Some items, like the car decals, are going for about $5, but the jackets, which have a handful of bids, are going for $50 to $90. The medals, which are given to participants who finish the race, are selling for over $100.

One medal, advertised as “brand new,” is selling for $306 and had around 25 bids.  Another user’s medal is going for $266. The user wrote on his profile that he has run the Boston Marathon several times and sells his medal every year.

“I hold the memories, but I’m not a momento/souvenier [sic] type person. If I keep it, it ends up in a shoebox so I hope someone will buy it that will find it interesting or even inspiring,” the user wrote on the post, adding that he plans to keep $120 of the profit to pay for his entry fee for next year’s marathon and the rest will go to a “first responders or victims fund.”

One user is selling “a participant’s” used souvenir property storage bag for $31. “Also included are wrappers from two protein bars consumed by the runner prior to the race,” the item description said. It currently has two bids.

A YouTube video, which was posted on Monday after the bombing and surfaced on Reddit, showed a clip of news cameras capturing dozens of people taking marathon jackets out of boxes at a race tent. The video has sparked a huge online debate over whether the people were looting or collecting jackets for runners and victims.

Dozens of eBay sellers are also auctioning off local Boston newspapers from this week with headlines about the bombings. Some of the newspapers, including the April 16 edition of the Boston Herald with the “Terror at the Finish Line” headline and the Boston Globe’s “Marathon Terror,” are being sold for around $10.

Some online retailers are using eBay to turn a profit off of the tragedy. Many are offering t-shirts with the phrases “Pray for Boston,” “Prayers for Boston,” “Boston Strong,” “We Remember” and “Never Forget” printed on them, similar to the messages seen on 9/11 memorabilia.

But one t-shirt seller out of Romania, whose eBay username is tshirtart2.0, is advertising a “RARE Martin Richard Boston Marathon bombing support” t-shirt on eBay for $22.89 – Martin, 8, was one of the three victims killed in the bombing.

A photo of Martin taken in his classroom before he died, which showed him holding a handmade sign that said “No More hurting people Peace” in his child scrawl, made the rounds on social media this week. The t-shirt features those words in Martin’s handwriting on a white background.

ABC News reached out to multiple sellers to ask about the items for sale, but none immediately responded.

In an email to ABC News, eBay said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the Boston tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected. Out of respect for victims, eBay does not allow listings that graphically portray, glorify or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering. eBay’s teams are monitoring related listings to ensure they comply with our policies and also taking into account reports from our community members. When a listing is brought to our attention that may go against our guidelines, we carefully consider the context and all of the details, and decisions to remove items are made on a case-by-case basis. Anyone can report an item to eBay for review by clicking the ‘Report Item’ link on the listing.”

Hundreds of people have taken to Twitter, saying they are disgusted with those selling marathon memorabilia on eBay. Here is just a sampling:

Some eBay sellers have said they are auctioning the items to donate the money to charity, such as the One Fund Boston,  the official charity set up to raise money for families of bombing victims. Others don’t specify. The  Department of Homeland Security issued an unclassified bulletin cautioning the public against scammers looking to profit off the tragedy, saying some had created fake fundraisers.

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