Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hell fails to sell

LOS ANGELES - No one was buying hell on Friday -- or at least its red-hot Web address.

HELL.com was among hundreds of Internet domain names up for auction in Hollywood, Florida, by domain asset management provider Moniker.com, a unit of marketing services firm Seevast Corp.

The owner put a minimum price of $1 million (£527,000) on the underworld's domain, confident of high interest after the salacious address, Sex.com, sold for about $12 million earlier this year. But there were no takers with bids failing to reach the reserve price.

"The world is still alive and well. Nobody is going to hell right now," Seevast Chief Executive Lance Podell said, adding that the domain would now be part of a silent auction.

Moniker was selling HELL.com on behalf of a group called BAT Flli LLC, whose founder Kenneth Aronson registered the name in 1995.

It's not the first time that Aronson has tried to sell HELL.com. He put the address on the auction block in April 2000, at a starting bid of $8 million.

In an interview with Reuters in 2000, Aronson said members of The Final.org, an enigmatic collective of digital artists and creative visionaries, were using HELL.com as a private destination for their work.

According to the site, HELL.com is a "private parallel web" not accessible with a Web browser.

The auction on Friday included a list of domain names such as cameras.com, which pulled in $1.5 million. Sexeducation.com that sold for $120,000 and babies.net which went for $26,000.

Flowers.mobi, an address with the new extension for mobile devices, went for $200,000, while fun.mobi pulled in $100,000.

A boom in Internet advertising driven by companies such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have sent prices for sought-after domain names soaring.

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