The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Want to buy a celeb' Try Bush at $6.16

No one is betting on Saddam Hussein winning the war, but on the virtual market for celebrities, the Iraqi President is quoting at $5.06, not too far behind President George W. Bush’s $6.16.

Were you to buy Atal Bihari Vajpayee — well, he’s going cheap: at $1.25, but still over General Pervez Musharraf at $1.06.

World leaders, evidently, don’t command much on the market, but then the price for these fat cats is not in USD, it’s in Fatdog dollars.

Websites for buying and selling virtual shares in politicians and celebrities have been hot for a while. But spurred by their success, real-time players have also jumped on to the bandwagon. The Celebdaq site, floated by BBCi, has become such an “obsession”— with over two million hits a day and 70,000 registered users across the globe — that a television show discussing the movement in “stock” indexes has been started on BBC Three, the network’s digital channel.

So, while Celebdaq is restricted largely to screen and sport celebrities — much like the tech-centred index Nasdaq, has a wider range on offer, from international politicians to actors, companies to global alliances, along the lines of the more traditional New York Stock Exchange.

Shares pay dividends — in virtual currency. The valuation of those listed goes up and down according to how much it was traded over the given period, just like on real stock markets. But on Fatdog, dividends depend on how much the person, agency or company in question was in the news. With the World Cup factor at work, Sachin Tendulkar has overtaken media darling David Beckham, but the notoriety factor seems to have spun Shane Warne over Sachin’s head.

Fatdog players lean towards the blue chips. At the top of the list is Bush with Saddam hot at his heels. But both paid out the same dividend of FD $0.25. They are currently delivering the same profits to “shareholders” as the three big ‘Ns’ — Nato, Nasdaq and Nasa.

Arsenal beat Manchester United, both in value ($3.36 vs $2.86) and dividends ($0.24 vs 0.22). Last week, the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, cost a mere $1.67 and bore fruit of $0.01, though Microsoft cost $4.06 and paid up $0.24 on the virtual market. The only ‘soft’ stock at the top is the ever-bankable Tiger Woods. And fully aware of the fact that producers, not screen stars, are the money mills in Hollywood, Disney beat out all the prima donnas at $1.70.

Just as sensitive is the ‘pop’ mart Celebdaq. R&B Ms Dynamite exploded on to the scene, trading at £23.31 after bagging two Brit music awards and singing her way to the top with an anti-war protest song. Her nearest competitor for the week was scandal-riddled Michael Jackson, at £18.35. Here Beckham did not have to contend with Sachin, so rested at a cosy number three at £10.70. Locked in cross-continental combat, queens of oomph Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Minogue were neck and shapely neck.

To better understand such bulls and bears, the weekly TV show launched last month on BBC takes a look at the fluctuating fortunes of the personalities listed on Celebdaq, giving advice to potential investors.

The only complaint: most “scrips” are sold out. As Robert, a UK-based “trader” wrote on the BBC site: “I think it’s a healthy sideways glance at the oversold idea of celebrity. I’ll bet celebs sneak a peek at it.” But he also raised one fundamental question: “Do they (the celebrities) have to be delisted when they’re dead' Or is that when they’re at their most valuable'”

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