What is the most valuable item in the world?

I know this question could be taken a few ways, such as “Love is the most valuable item” even though love isn’t technically an item. That aside, I was wondering what actual object is the most expensive, valuable item in the whole world, and what makes it so valuable?

Hey cool, I get to be first in this thread to

[quote the Master]

Probably woulda gotten more if they sold it on eBay…

Jeremy’s Twin, you are truly evil. My first thought on seeing the thread title with only one response to the OP was to link to the Perfect Master. You beat me to it! {mentally insert various remarks here which would cause the Moderator to warn me to take it to the Pit} :smiley:

Oh dang…Cecil has already answered my question.

Still, WHY is californium-252 so valuable and expensive?

Oh, the vanity. With a half life of 2.64 years, somebody pays that kind of money to enjoy it only briefly before it is polluted with declasse Curium …

(Actually, Cf and Am are notable as artificial elements that actually have commercial applications - Cf is used in moisture guages for oil well drilling. They make a whole 2 Kg of Am per year, most of which goes into smoke detectors, and Am is probably a comparative bargain. I wonder what some of the even higher elements would go for, if they were practical to use (quickly) for anything.)

If this might arguably be the most expensive sale of a substance by weight (Coke dealers selling “Peruvian Flake” notwithstanding), it might be more interesting to use a different measure, like the most expensive single artifact.

[Time Bandits reference]
Yes, folks, Moderna Designs present the latest in kitchen luxury. The Moderna Wondermajor all-automatic convenience centerette.
[/Time Bandits reference]

a.k.a “The most fabulous object in the world”

I guess you could also make an argument for something from the field of Intellectual Property (if you accept it’s an ‘object’) – ownership of the Microsoft logo, for example.

Because you need an expensive particle accelerator and exotic techniques to make the stuff. Fortunately, the commercial applications only require very tiny quantities.

Cecil is a little out of date, too (I didn’t notice the age of that article). The 1998 CRC says that Oak Ridge National Labratory sells it for $50/microgram (Cf-249 costs $160/ug):


What’s the second most valuable? Tritium?

In sheer cost since the earliest days of man, the most valuable item would be political power. It is the only item that has enough power that man would consider destroying the earth to keep. The value of any material object is zero compared to it.

How about the most valuable item that can be purchased that won’t potentially kill its buyer?

How about commercial time during the Super Bowl?

How about antimatter? I believe they’ve only managed to produce a few atoms of the stuff at any one time.

Hmmm, so much for not killing the buyer, though.

Anything can potentially kill its buyer if handled incorrectly.

I’ve never used Californium-252 but I have a bit of Americium 241 in my lab. No big deal. Even if I accidentally leave it on my desk in front of me for an hour, I’d guess the radiation exposure will be less than from a single chest X-ray. Of course if I grind it and swallow it, that’s a completely different story.

I doubt it. I don’t have a price, but tritium is widely used in gun sights which only cost a few hundred dollars so it can’t be too expensive.

Another way to phrase the question would be “What is the most valuable insured item in the world?” Anything (at least in the West) that is owned and valuable will probably be insured. I suppose this could just be judged by premium. Life insurance probably shouldn’t count, although I can’t imagine one person holding the record. What is the biggest insurance policy held?

For instance:
Was the WTC insured? Will the insurance company have to pay out?

I’m not convinced that everything owned and valuable is insured. I’m thinking about the major artworks owned by great museums. They’re probably amongst the most valuable items (though being owned by a museum, it’s probably impossible to assess them a value), but are they insured? Would an insurance company accept to insure the content of a major museum?

Following their destruction, it was widely reported that they were insured and the general assumption was that the underwriter would have to pay up. IIRC the sum involved was of the order of a few billion dollars. Large, but not outrageous by the standards of the market. The more memorable oddity (at least in hindsight) of the policy was that it only covered one tower; nobody had conceived of any eventuality involving the loss of both.

And to follow up on clairobscur’s point, I don’t think there were any insurance payouts for events like the disappearance of Raphael’s Portrait of a Gentleman (taken from the Czartoryski in Krakow during the Nazi occupation of Poland, with fate unknown). Similarly, I doubt the French government has tried taking out “third party, fire and theft” for the Mona Lisa.

Most valuable CURRENTLY?

  1. OJ’s bloody knife
  2. The aging portrait of Dick Clark
  3. Opal
  4. Britney Spears’ bathwater
  5. Cecil’s memoirs

There is a gemstone that was found in a county in California I think. Big deal, except that there are only three known specimens in THE ENTIRE WORLD. I think rarity greatly influences value. Another example would be the double headed eagle $20 gold coin, of which there are less than a dozen in the world. One is going (went) up for bid at Christies (?) and is expected to fetch the most money ever for a coin.