Solyndra Hard Hat Sells for $400

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Solyndra has long departed both the solar panel business and the news cycle, but it had one last gasp of commerce on Wednesday and Thursday as thousands bid on high-end industrial equipment, extra solar panels, and company swag. About 1,000 bidders showed up in person, reported The New York Times, and another 2,500 participated online. People love a fire sale. But among the bargains (an electron microscope for less than half price!), there were some oddly pricey collector's items. The way people spent money at Solyndra's auction tells us something about how they think of the company: As an industrial concern, it's run-of-the-mill but as a symbol, it's priceless (or at least way overpriced).

"We sold a hard hat for $300 or $400," Ross Dove, a managing partner at Heritage Global Partners, told The New York Times. "We had bidding wars. We had items with 40 or 50 bidders. As auctioneers, we had a lot of fun." This is the hat:

A few hundred bucks seems pretty steep for something the president didn't even wear on his visit to the company:

A company banner went for $400. "That's a piece of Americana right there - that was the banner that welcomed Obama," buyer Scott Logsdon told the San Francisco Chronicle. Pretty impressive:

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"The highest-price single item was a scanning electron microscope that went for $270,000," The Times reported. That may seem like a lot, but one solar executive told The Times it's actually a steal. "Before the auction, AQT Solar’s chief executive, Michael Bartholomeusz, told us that electron microscopes that retail for $600,000 to $1,000,000 can often be bought at auction for $250,000 to $750,000." The auction house posted this glamour shot:

The highest price for one lot of items was $1 million for spare solar modules. As The Times points out, "although Solyndra has been dogged by controversy and financial difficulties for years, it actually sold quite a lot of its products," including more than 500,000 of these things in three years:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.