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Whale Week: This Whale Is In Search of a Real Whale Skeleton

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Here at Racked, we're dedicating this week to the kind of fantastical shopping that most of us only get to experience in dreams (or at 80%-off sample sales). Taking a page from casino parlance, we'll be talking a lot about "whales," those big spenders who feel perfectly comfortable dropping tens of thousands of dollars every night on roulette, or, in our case, on Cartier. Welcome to Whale Week 2013.

Photo by Aubrie Pick

As luck would have it, just as we were about to embark on Whale Week 2013, we encountered a unique type of Bay Area whale who just so happens to be about to depart on a whaling expedition.

Photo by Aubrie Pick

Don't get upset, the whale he's hunting died of natural causes a long time ago. During the last week in February, Michael Phillips Moskowitz, founder of Bureau of Trade, and two friends will set out on a hunt for a whale buried on a beach in a secret location. Why?

"I'm obsessed with the natural world," Moskowitz says. "God's artifice, not man's labored constructs. They'll look stunning as exhibition pieces—like nothing you've seen in another home. It's also a clever catalyst for conversations about and around conservation."

That obsession is partly what led to his current endeavor, Bureau of Trade. He and his operatives sift through online reselling sites for super-unique merchandise for men, including vintage timepieces, clothing, classic cars, furniture, and petrified lightning.

"No one was celebrating or lending editorial coverage to the world's two largest, richest repositories of merchandise: Craigslist and eBay," Moskowitz says. "Ebay in 2011 sold $535 billion worth of tchotchkes—that didn't include cars, motorcycles or seafaring vessels. Just stuff. If they did a better job of making the stuff sexy and appealing, they could have pierced the trillion-dollar threshold."

That's exactly what Moskowitz aims to do with Bureau of Trade (the sexy part), which is undergoing a major redesign and will re-launch February 15. Stay tuned!

Photo by Aubrie Pick

Moskowitz, pictured here at his home in Oakland, was previously a Middle East analyst, later served a seasonal stint as KT the Bear, Squaw Valley's mascot (we're not kidding), and was the voice behind the now-defunct What Would Matthew McConaughey Do. Apparently he is sometimes presumed to be gay. He calls himself a "closeted heterosexual," as evidenced by the naked lady in the literal closet.
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