Alexander McQueen, eBay and the Wages of Grief

[Trendzilla] Not all online tributes to the late designer have been of the ambulance-chaser variety

Now that it’s been a few weeks, let’s take a step back: It’s not rare for an artist’s items to go up in value—and in demand—after his or her (often) untimely passing. Fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who was found in his home on the morning of Feb. 11 after an apparent suicide, is no exception.

But people sure respond to grief in funny ways.

McQueen’s demise occurred at the peak of his career—the last time this happened, it was Gianni Versace’s murder in 1997—and so the impact is hitting the world even harder than anyone could have imagined.

coup.etsy.com

Many storefronts reported an almost-immediate increase in sales after McQueen’s death (his iconic skull-motif scarves being the most requested item), with final calculations coming in at something like a 1,400 percent spike.

But the Internet responded in a different way. I almost immediately took to eBay, where I noticed a surge of bids on merchandise. The most notable thing? The auction of domain name www.InMemoryOfAlexanderMcQueen.com at a $1 million asking price—or best offer. (And, uh, free shipping?)

The auction was listed at approximately 10:11 a.m. PST on Feb. 11 by eBay seller Boxer1727, just hours after reports of McQueen’s death.

The questions-and-answers section, where potential bidders pose questions to sellers, is the highlight of the auction, though:

“Q: You are dispicable [sic]. If you are such a huge fan of his, you certainly have sick way of showing it. A: My goodness—isn’t jealousy a terrible thing.” And “Q: A vulture is what you are. A: I will take that as a compliment. The vulture is one of my favorite birds.”

Amazingly enough, two other auctions exist for similar domain names, AlexanderMcQueenMemorial.com and RememberingAlexanderMcQueen.com—both for sale by eBay user rockmebritney (really?) at a $5,000 Buy It Now price.

But not all of the online response has been of the ambulance-chaser variety. As with what happened after the passing of Yves Saint Laurent in 2008, many tribute T-shirts have popped up. We might not be able to afford actual YSL and McQueen pieces, but we can still show our respect for their work.

Among the art prints, clothing and tote bags is New York City-based Etsy seller coup (coup.etsy.com), who has produced two T-shirt designs (each priced at $30). One reads, “Long Live McQueen,” and both are peppered with images from McQueen’s always-eccentric, always-unorthodox runway shows: the armadillo shoe, oversized sex-doll lips, the umbrellas worn as hats, the theatricality.

vchang@ocweekly.com

 
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