Going once, going twice

“My name is Kevin and I want to sell you everything I own.”

On March 10, Kevin Boyle made his first post to his blog, “one lump sum” (onelumpsum.blogspot.com), where he announced to the world — or, the world wide web, anyway — his intention of selling his stuff. All of it.

Boyle, a 24-year-old living in Friendship, Pa., created a single eBay auction containing all his worldly possessions — save a 2001 Taurus and a handful of sentimental items, according to an article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“You’ll love this stuff,” Boyle wrote. “Seriously. I love this stuff.” What’s interesting about Boyle is that he’s not on some stoical quest for material detachment. Boyle’s aspirations are slightly less profound: He needs money.

Boyle aspires to take a 180-day break from his life, especially his job — mind-numbing desk work in a cubicle setting. He wants to tour the country via station wagon, hitting up all the usual sights (the Grand Canyon, etc.) with the hopeful addition of some spontaneous encounters. “I just want to drive around,” wrote Boyle, adding that “the idea of not experiencing this potentially idiotic adventure genuinely scares me.”

Local artist Nicole Addeo, who went to high school with Boyle, first found out about Boyle’s auction from an article in the Bucks County Courier Times. “It was … completely shocking,” said Addeo. “I think it’s admirable.” Though Boyle’s massive eBay auction came as a surprise, according to Addeo, the idea behind the “one lump sum” is somewhat in line with its seller’s personality. “He’s always been crazy,” she joked.

Despite the best-laid plans, Boyle’s auction hasn’t gone exactly as expected. According to the Post-Gazette, he received emails throughout the bidding period from buyers interested in buying some — but not all — of his life.

As a result, Boyle’s “lump sum” received but a single bid, which amounted to $6000. The winner, however, was one of those loathsome eBay deviants; claiming insufficient funds, she reneged on the bid after the auction had closed.

Disillusioned but not broken, Boyle is preparing to launch his auction in its second incarnation. All of his possessions are now divided up into several distinct auctions, and Boyle has added another commodity to the mix: his time.

“Yes,” he wrote, “you can buy me and my stuff.” Boyle created 16 buy-it-now auctions, each of which guarantees its buyer one week of his services. According to his blog, Boyle hopes to explore some new career possibilities through these buy-it-now endeavors, “as I’m rather directionless right now,” he added parenthetically.

“I think the whole thing is working out,” Addeo said. Since March 10, Boyle has earned a decent amount of press, including newspaper articles (the Associated Press even picked up his story), in addition to exposure on both TV and the radio. Boyle’s “one lump sum” tag helped attract attention, Addeo explained. Now, he can split up his possessions into multiple auctions while still capitalizing on his “one lump sum” fame.

Indeed, Boyle’s become something of an online celebrity. On his blog, he wrote of receiving both love and hate mail, from readers either claiming to be “soul mate” or insisting he seek psychological help. According to the site, Boyle’s auction accumulated 10,000 hits in under two weeks, and the blog itself received almost 50,000.

Maybe all of this is attention well-deserved. In light of Lent, let me put it this way: Boyle isn’t the kid that gave up broccoli — he’s the kid that gave up chocolate. Boyle loves his stuff, perhaps a little more than he should. “He’s such a collector,” Addeo said, explaining that Boyle collects everything from Muppets to books to DVDs.

“Parting with all these things will be genuinely hard,” Boyle stated in the Post-Gazette. “I’m unbelievably materialistic.” According to the article, in addition to his full-fledged collections, Boyle’s possessions for sale include a taxidermy alligator, a fire hydrant taken from Beaumont, TX, and a book of Astroturf samples, among other accoutrements. Boyle continued, “Not to sound too Dr. Phil-y, but this is so radical, I can’t think of a better way to force yourself to learn something.”

Anyone who's ever felt “directionless,” or heard the alluring call of the open road — or just wanted a 24-year-old to do his bidding for a week — should check out Kevin Boyle’s auctions on eBay. Wanderlust: It’s a worthy cause.