An attempt to sell the Heene family's balloon falls a little flat

Richard and Mayumi Heene were prohibited by a judge from making money off the Balloon Boy story until 2013, but they've still floated a few trial balloons. In late spring 2011, they put the balloon at the center of the hoax up for auction online — for $1 million. At the time, the couple said that the money would go to help victims of the tsunami. But the wording and tenor of the website they used at the time, (which now appears to be a Japanese porn site), and the five-minute-long video they'd posted there seemed to indicate that they were more interested in keeping their names in the news than raising money for charity.

After all, they pointed out, "This is your chance to own a piece of documented media history" — a documented piece of media history that the Heenes wrote themselves with their hoax. If the winning bidder paid $50,000 or more, the Heenes promised to throw in photos of the construction of the balloon. But first, a potential buyer had to fill in a questionnaire that included such questions as "Do you believe flying saucers have been around for many years?" and "Would you like to see people travel every day in flying saucers?"

Ultimately, Michael Fruitman, who runs Mike's Stadium Sports Cards in Aurora, got the balloon with a not-so-high-flying bid of $2,502, and collected it from the Heenes' California attorney. He then struck a deal with Topps, the New York-based sports and entertainment card company, to use pieces of the Mylar balloon on individual trading cards, released last summer as part of the 2012 Topps Baseball Allen & Ginter Relics Set.


Richard Heene

One of the cards sold this past September for 99 cents.

Don’t miss these other stories from our Heene family archive; find them all at

•“Balloon Boy balloon flying high at an Aurora store,” July 22, 2011

•“Six great Colorado hoaxes,” February 17, 2011

•“Balloon Boy’s band needs a name. Allow us to, uh, float a few suggestions,” December 17, 2010

•“Heene family fly to Florida: Our favorite videos to remember them by,” September 30, 2010

•“How America’s favorite crime dramas will tackle Balloon Boy,” October 29, 2009


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