It won't last long, so act now!

What would you pay for an item on eBay that's a bit out of the ordinary but has a colorful history and still oozes tradition and charm? OK, full disclosure: If it became yours, regular maintenance would be necessary, which you might well find tiresome. Still, you'd be in exclusive company; no one else could match your new purchase. OK, enough suspense: Are we talking about a rare breed of show dog? An antique car? Yankee Stadium? No ... Belgium. It was put on offer last weekend by teacher and onetime journalist Gerrit Six, who said he'd throw in King Albert II and his court at no extra charge. "I wanted to attract attention," Six explained. The buyer would be expected to assume more than $300 billion in government debt. But there would be trade-offs, too. Brussels, the capital, is the headquarters of NATO and the European Union. Medieval Bruges is a UN World Heritage site. Antwerp has the world's fourth-largest seaport and is the home of the diamond trade. And then there are the lace and luscious chocolates for which Belgium is renowned. So why offer it for auction? Because of politics. The struggle for power between French- and Dutch-speaking parties has left the country without a government more than three months after voters went to the polls for the last election. Six, claiming to speak for "millions" of Belgians, said he's exasperated at the situation. As for eBay, a spokesman called the listing "really fun," even though "it would be a shame to sell it." Thus, two days after accepting, the online auction site took it back down – "just to avoid confusion." It's not known how many people had bid, but the best offer at the time was $14 million.

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