Let’s assume that we have found a way to genetically modify a horse in order to create a unicorn. How much would this unicorn be worth? Well, we can go about this pricing predicament in a few different ways.
If we only breed one of these unicorns before letting them fall back into nonexistence, we could set up the sale of the unicorn as an auction format and see how high the bidding wars got. One-of-a-kind items often auction off for very high dollar amounts, an old piece of gum, chewed by Britney Spears sold in 2004 for $14,000 on eBay (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,692094,00.html). You can buy an entire pack of unused chewing gum for around $1, so this rare piece that contains some celebrity DNA makes buyers open up their wallets, as do most rare things. So although it requires more maintenance and care than chewed gum, one could safely assume that a unicorn would surely sell even higher.
What if we decided to produce more than one unicorn to sell? First we would need to secure a patent on our unicorns that way we can keep a monopoly status on unicorn production while the idea is in its infancy. We would also have to make sure that we sold only unicorns that had been neutered or all unicorns of the same sex, in order to prevent buyers from breeding their own unicorns and entering the market which would naturally cause the price to go down.
In a monopolistic industry we would be able to charge pretty much whatever price we wanted to, but what price would attract the most buyers? A unicorn would be an incredibly rare pet, so we could price it according to other exotic pets which sell for a premium. Perhaps the closest available substitute to the unicorn experientially would be a horse, so we could also consider pricing it based on horse prices. Horses are priced based on many factors, some including their lineage, breed, age, and overall desirability.
Having a unicorn would be such a rare experience though one might even consider pricing it in comparison to some other extremely rare and limited experience such as a space shuttle trip. Space trips go for $250,000 according to Virgin Galactic’s website. The big difference here is that the unicorn will require care for its entire lifetime; the space trips ends when you land back on Earth. The longevity of the unicorn experience may be viewed positively and as a value addition by some, but others, perhaps looking for a unique story rather than a unique project, might value the pet less.
Contrary to popular belief, a traditional unicorn doesn’t fly, so buying it as an alternate means of transportation doesn’t really seem logical or efficient and once you got to your destination you would have the issue of where to “park” the unicorn. You could make some money off your unicorn by selling rides and/or photos with him, just be sure to file for a sales tax permit!
Personally I am a big fan of unicorns, and I think that owning a real one would be priceless. I honestly don’t even know how to really put a price tag on the joy I would derive from brushing my unicorn’s flowing mane and taking him for long rides on a sandy beach somewhere far far away from Chicago.