A cryto-currency company spent £2.2 million on a book, thinking it included the rights to the story.
Spice DAO believed that when they bought the rare copy of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, they could eventually create an animated series based on the story.
When they completed the sale, paying 100 times the asking price, they bragged: “We won the auction. Now our mission is to make the book public, to the extent permitted by law.
“Produce an original animated limited series inspired by the book and sell it to a streaming service.
“Support derivative projects from the community.”
However they soon found out that the book was already online for free, and had been since 2011.
Garry Brannan, of the University of York’s Archives, said: “This is undoubtedly the stupidest thing I have ever seen… Absolutely baffling.
“We’ve got an original copy of the shooting script for Carry On Up the Jungle at work.
“Doesn’t mean that I can produce a gritty animated remake, no matter how tempting that might be.”
The book is numbered five of between 10 and 20 copies that exist, according to the auction house Christies.
Twitter had an absolute field day with this news.
One posted a picture of a can of Diet Coke, saying: “This is incredibly exciting.
“I recently bought the Coca-Cola corporation (pictured) and we would be thrilled to sponsor your project.”
Another commented: “Wow… I have 1978 calendar of the LotR! I can’t wait to reboot the movies!”
Arlan Hellison joked: “Thank you for helping to obliterate the myth that people with a lot of money earned it through skill and intellect.”