A man in Wales has struck gold after auctioning a frozen rock of whale vomit for a whopping sum of $16,700, according to reports emerging in the media. The man found the highly-prized piece of whale vomit last week when walking his dog early morning on an Anglesey beach in Wales.
Ambergris, or whale vomit that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, is a highly sought material in the perfume industry. Scientists believe it is used to coat objects which could possibly irritate a whale’s intestines when they eat metals or plastics. According to Micro Finance Monitor, whale vomit is used to enhance the scent or prolong the duration with which a fragrance lasts, thus making it indispensable to the high-end perfume manufacturers.
After the discovery, the man took the lump of yellow and black ambergris — measuring 20 centimeters in length and weighing just over 38 ounces — to the British auctioneer Adam Partridge, who admitted to whale vomit being the weirdest item his company has ever sold, according to the Economic Times.
“[The dog walker] brought this smelly waxy rugby ball-shaped lump to us and asked us to sell it. There are many things which can be mistaken for ambergris – fat, rubber and palm oil among others – but after doing some research and consulting the authorities on such things, we found out that what we had was indeed very valuable. We’ve had lots of unusual items pass through the doors over the years, but this is by far the weirdest.”
According to the Daily Post, the bidding for the frozen piece of whale vomit was fierce. Two bidders, neither of whom were present in person, bid ludicrous sums for the prized possession, but it was an anonymous phone bidder, who is believed to be representing a high-end perfume manufacturer from London, who finally bought the lump for a sum of $16,700.
Oliver Hancock, a representative of Adam Partridge, said a lot of people had turned up for the auction.
“It was pretty busy with about 50 people and two TV crews in the room. A lot of people were bidding and a lot of people wanted to see it sell.”
Though the man who discovered the frozen piece of whale vomit has not been reached for comment, it is understood that the man had a fair idea about the value of the substance when he discovered it.
Ancient Egyptians burned whale vomit as incense, and it is also used by tobacco companies in cigarettes to give to scent to tobacco smoke. In ancient China, ambergris was called “dragon’s spittle fragrance.”
During the time when Europe was suffering from plague in the 14th century, people believed that carrying a ball of ambergris or whale vomit could help prevent them from getting the plague, as its smell overpowered the smell of the air due to deaths of plague.
This is not the first time that whale vomit has fetched such a massive bid from perfume making companies. Two years earlier, the Inquisitr reported about a man who sold a piece of whale vomit for $65,000.
[Photos via Wikipedia and Daily Post]