luxury phone manufacturer Vertu is auctioning its $20,000 phones for cheap

Most people never owned a Vertu handset the cheapest models typically cost several thousand, making them exclusively the preserve of the ultra-wealthy. The Vertu replica signature Touch, for example, started at 7,500 (roughly $10,000).

Amusingly, in 2014, Vertu launched a budget line. The Vertu Aster cost just 4,500 (roughly $6,000). While significantly cheaper than its stablemates, it was way more expensive than anything the average smartphone buyer could afford.

But now, with the company’s assets on the auction block, you can pick up a Vertu phone for a (relative) bargain. One of its Signature brand feature phones, which comes encased in 18 karat gold and black alligator leather and originally retailed for 14,700 ($19,000), currently has bids in the 1,150 mark ($1,500).

The liquidators have also listed the company’s phone museum, which contains 105 iconic Vertu phones from the company’s long history. Some of these are concept devices, while others are fully-working models. The opening bid for this is 20,000 ($26,000).

Other collectibles under the hammer are a little more left-field.

The most unusual thing I found in the auction is a large bronze statue of a horse-mounted soldier, holding the Vertu copy logo like a weapon. At the time of writing, the current bid for that is 775 (roughly $1,000).

It’s a staggering fall from grace for Vertu. This was a brand that once saw its phones flogged in the most extravagant of boutiques, like London’s Harrods. Now its assets are sold to the highest bidder at an online auction for a fraction of their retail cost.

I feel sad for them. As a Brit, it’s bitterly sad to see our only domestic phone manufacturer collapse in such a way. And most of all, I’m sad for the nearly 200 people who have lost their jobs.

If you want to get yourself a piece of tech history, hurry: depending on the item, bidding concludes either today or tomorrow.

We’re hosting an AMA-like session with Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde TODAY: Post your questions here!