The eBay listing: Saddam Hussein Palace Christofle Soup Ladle Malmaison. Starting price: $100.
The French-made silver serving piece had already racked up six bids. The item, according to the eBay seller in Alabama, had been found in the lost luggage of an American soldier, lifted perhaps during a 2003 palace raid, or sold to the soldier by an Iraqi looter. The auction would end in 32 minutes. My family, though, had just begun a long evening of blessings and chicken soup. I scanned the bid history, now up to $150. I placed a bid of $157 and ran downstairs.