Since Pope Francis was elected to that office in 2013, he has made a reputation for himself as a very active decision maker. He has publicized bold stances on things like economics and gender equality, and has become known as a “cool” pope, something that few people probably expected from the office before he took over.
Cementing that “cool” status is the fact that he owned a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which he’s auctioning off for charity. The motorcycle was a gift from the manufacturer as a celebration of the company’s 110th anniversary. Since then, it is unclear whether or not Pope Francis has ridden the motorcycle, but considering his willingness to eschew bulletproof Popemobiles and his image as a sort of “pope of the people,” it’s not out of the question.
The motorcycle is signed “Francesco,” and was auctioned off by Britain’s Bonhams, one of the oldest auctioneers in the world. They expected that the motorcycle to fetch somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 euros, or about $16,000 to $20,000. When it sold it went for $275, 551. Another motorcycle, signed by Pope Benedict, only sold for $52,651 a year later.
Pope Francis auctioned the bike in order to raise money for charity, specifically to help renovate Caritas Roma, a soup kitchen and hostel found in the Termini railway station in Rome. The motorcycle signed by Pope Benedict was also sold for charity, this time to benefit the Friendly World Association, based in Poland.
Selling material goods in order to raise money for charity is a good way to go about things. Celebrity signed items being sold for charity is common enough, especially on the internet, but experts suggest selling goods and donating the sales instead of donating goods even for less famous donors. This is especially helpful in situations where established charities donate gifts in kind, but where individuals doing so won’t accomplish much.