A 100-trillion-dollar bill, it turns out, is worth about $5. That’s the going rate for Zimbabwe’s highest denomination note, the biggest ever produced for legal tender—and a national symbol of monetary policy run amok. At one point in 2009, a hundred-trillion-dollar bill couldn’t buy a bus ticket in the capital of Harare.
But since then the value of the Zimbabwe dollar has soared. Not in Zimbabwe, where the currency has been abandoned, but on eBay.
The notes are a hot commodity among currency collectors and novelty buyers, fetching 15 times what they were officially worth in circulation.
Frank Templeton, a retired Wall Street equities trader, bought “quintillions of Zimbabwe dollars” through a broker from Zimbabwe’s central bank. On eBay, he now does a brisk trade in the bills from his home in the Hamptons, on New York’s Long Island. “I like to say Warren Buffett made a lot of people millionaires, but I’ve made more people trillionaires,” Mr. Templeton says. The dealer paid between $1 and $2 for each of the bills in several purchases over about a year, and now sells them for around $5-$6 apiece.