The collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and its surrounding states made a lot of people rich. It also made a lot of already-wealthy people around the world feel even wealthier by giving them the chance to purchase things that only governments could previously afford. Today, nearly 15 years after the fall of the U.S.S.R., the market for high-end property formerly owned by the state is showing no sign of cooling. Last week a Chinese businessman bought an airworthy Czech MiG-21 fighter jet on eBay for $24,730. Yes—for less than the cost of a nice car, a private citizen now owns one of the most successful and widely produced military fighters of all time.
“I like to collect valuable items,” the buyer, Zhang Cheng, told the Associated Press. “I have the buying power, and my company has an empty space where I can display the plane,” he added. While Zhang might just want something cool to look at in the lobby every morning, others have had more extensive plans for former Soviet military hardware. This page documents the fascinating life of a Russian Buran space-shuttle test vehicle (look familiar?) that has changed hands—and countries—several times as a potential tourist attraction and is now parked in a Bahrainian desert.
So before buying your next car, it could pay off to make a quick sweep of the Aircraft category on eBay first. And don’t forget to pick up an ejection seat—those are often sold separately. —John Mahoney