5 things that (implausibly) sold for $1

What can one dollar buy you? Newsweek, apparently, but also the rights to the Terminator movies, an Ohio hospital, and a haunted lighthouse in Connecticut

Newsweek recently sold for $1 to 91-year-old Sidney Harman
(Image credit: Newsweek)

Newsweek, the venerable if struggling news magazine, has been saved from collapse by businessman and philanthropist Sidney Harman who told the staff, "I'm not here to make money, I'm here to make joy." The audio-equipment tycoon, 91, reportedly bought Newsweek from The Washington Post Company for the nominal sum of $1 — while taking on tens of millions of dollars in liabilities (the magazine lost over $70 million in 2008 and 2009). But the news weekly is far from the only major asset to have changed hands for a single dollar. Here's a quick list:

1. TV Guide

Another cash-strapped magazine, TV Guide, was sold off to private equity firm OpenGate Capital for a dollar in October 2008. "If you want to buy TV Guide on the newsstand it will cost you $2.99," said the New York Daily News. "But for one-third the cover price you could have bought the whole business."

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2. A 17th century farmhouse in Massachusetts

It may sound too good to be true, but a farmhouse built by one of the earliest settlers in Norfolk, MA was one of four historic Massachussetts houses put on sale for $1 each in June 2009. The catch? If you wanted to actually live in your purchase, you would have had to move the bricks and mortar from its location to a new lot. History does not record whether or not the four houses found buyers.

3. An Ohio hospital

A group of developers bought Doctor Hospital in Perry Township, OH for a single George Washington this June. The 272,000 sq. ft. hospital sits on a 9.27 acre plot of land, and had been valued at $6.8 million. But upkeep of the empty hospital, including real estate taxes and insurance, will reportedly cost its new owners $1 million a year — and even demolishing it would require an estimated $600,000 to $700,000, reports The Massillon Independent.

4. The rights to the Terminator franchise

Though a hedge fund recently bought the rights to the Terminator movie franchise for $29.5 million, Hollywood powerhouse James Cameron originally sold the rights for a single dollar back in 1984. The director claims he practically gave them away to producer Gale Hurd in exchange for the opportunity to direct the first movie. "If I had a little time machine," Cameron told The Toronto Sun, "and I could only send back something the length of a tweet, it'd be 'don't sell'"

5. A haunted lighthouse

The Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Long Island Sound, off the coast of Fairfield, CT, must have sounded like a bargain when the U.S. General Services Administration put it up for sale for $1 in July 2007. But the lighthouse had its drawbacks: Namely, an urgent need for renovations, and the persistent ghost of Frederick Jordan, a keeper who drowned in 1916 and has peskily haunted successive owners ever since. The non-profit Beacon Preservation shelled out ten dimes in 2008, with plans to to use the spooky property as an aquaculture research facility.

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