WELLINGTON - A NEW ZEALAND man has sold his soul to hell - Hell Pizza, that is.
The New Zealand pizza chain said on Thursday that it had struck a deal with Mr Walter Scott, 24, to buy a deed to his soul, shortly after an online auction site that initially agreed to the sale withdrew it from the Internet because of complaints it was in bad taste.
Mr Scott offered his soul on the TradeMe site on Wednesday, saying he had not found it to be much use.
'I can't see it, touch it or feel it, but I can sell it, so I'm going to palm it off to the highest bidder,' Mr Scott, 24, said on the sale site.
The auction attracted more than 32,000 hits and over 100 bids before it was taken down.
TradeMe business manager Mr Michael O'Donnell said the company had received an 'overwhelming number of complaints from the TradeMe community.' 'A lot of people felt it was offensive even though we thought it was there for good fun,' he said. 'So the compliance team pulled it.' He said the auction had also attracted many bogus bids - while the last bid on the site was listed as US$3,799 (S$5,157), the last genuine bid was US$456.
Ms Rachael Allison, head of marketing for Hell Pizza, which has outlets across New Zealand and trades on a naughty image, said the company contacted Mr Scott shortly after the auction was removed and offered him US$3,800.
'The soul belongs to Hell, there is simply no better place for it,' Ms Allison said. 'He was pretty delighted.' Mr O'Donnell had said on Wednesday that Mr Scott's auction complied with TradeMe's rules because a physical object - the deed of ownership - would change hands.
In 2001, 20-year-old U.S. university student Mr Adam Burtle tried to sell his soul on eBay, but the auction was pulled after the company ruling that something tangible needed to be exchanged for a viable sale.
Ms Allison said she would fly to Mr Scott's home town of Wanganui on North Island on Friday 'to pick up the soul - or at least the deed of ownership.' The deed would be hung on a wall at the company's headquarters in the northern city of Auckland and an image of it posted on the company's Web site.
'We'd love to get his soul in the virtual world - to keep it immortal,' she said. -- AP
[Possible money laundering or other payment for criminal activity method.]