EBay launches celebrity, charity destination

NEW YORK (AP) ? The online auction site eBay has learned from experience what kind of excitement a lock of Justin Bieber’s hair can cause.

Earlier this year, a bit of Bieber’s famous bangs raised $40,668 for an animal rescue organization in an eBay auction. Such bidding has become increasingly commonplace on eBay, where the stray objects of celebrities can fetch high prices.

On Monday, eBay is launching eBay.com/Celebrity as a gathering place for such auctions. Beginning participants include Brad Pitt, Katy Perry, Sienna Miller, Cher, Jeff Bridges and Hayden Panettiere, all of whom will auction off items to raise money for their individually chosen charities.

A chance to meet Pitt will be auctioned for Make it Right, the Hurricane Katrina home-building organization. A private acting workshop with Robert Duvall will benefit the Robert Duvall Children’s Fund. A red sequined dress worn by Katy Perry will raise money for the American Red Cross.

Richelle Parham, chief marketing officer of eBay North America, says eBay’s charitable arm, eBay Giving Works, has raised more than $51 million for charities this year and $278 million altogether.

“We know that our customers have been coming to eBay specifically to look for and connect with their favorite charities and celebrities,” says Parham. “For many years, the eBay platform has been the choice for celebrities who are looking to raise funds for their charities.”

EBay won’t take a percentage of these charity auctions, but the site does benefit from the generated traffic. The Bieber auction, for example, more than doubled searches for Bieber on the site and boosted revenue for Bieber-related merchandise by 36 percent.

Celebrities will have individual pages that highlight their charity of choice, as well as a “shop like a star” feature that leads to handpicked products for sale on eBay. Katy Perry, we now know, collects cat-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers.