Laws and Lawyers

Looking for a Hot Deal on Some Real Estate?

sun sold

When Maria Angeles Duran of Vigo, Spain started her real estate venture, she knew there was great demand to purchase property that gets plenty of sunlight. What better place than the source of sunlight, itself?

Finding that no one claimed ownership of the sun, due to a 1967 United Nations agreement prohibiting any nation from claiming exclusive ownership of celestial bodies, Duran claimed the star for herself and registered her ownership with a notary public in 2010. She based her right to ownership on the fact that the treaties say nothing about individuals owning celestial bodies; they only prohibit nations from staking a claim.

“There was no snag, I backed my claim legally, I am not stupid, I know the law. I did it but anyone else could have done it, it simply occurred to me first,” Duran said.

A page from Duran's notarized claim to the sun
A page from Duran’s notarized claim to the sun (click on photograph for a larger image)

Confident that her claim to the sun was valid, Duran began selling solar parcels at the low, low price of €1 per square meter. Granted, that is about the cheapest real estate you can find anywhere, but Duran can afford it. With 6,088,000,000,000,000 square meters available for sale (compared to 150,000,000 square meters of dry land on the entire planet Earth), she still stands to rake in a respectable profit.

Ms. Duran began marketing the real estate on eBay, with the promise “buy new object, unused, unopened, undamaged. Shipping is free.” Each buyer would receive a diploma of acquisition, verifying the purchase. Before long, Duran sold €1,200 worth of orders to 600 suckers customers before eBay stopped the sales. Citing their policy against sales that could not be touched or transported, and because they believed it could be a scam, eBay canceled the sales, thus preventing Duran from collecting the money from her customers. Ebay still charged Duran €128 as its commission on the canceled sales.

Believing that her starry-eyed business model had been improperly grounded by the company, Duran sued eBay for breach of contract, claiming €10,000 in damages.

In June 2015 a Spanish court cleared the way for the lawsuit to proceed, and as of this writing, the trial is scheduled for mid-July 2015.


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