The book details Klare's research into the rather morbid topic of how much the human body is worth to insurance companies, federal health schemes, and yes, the black market. For his film, also called Was Bin Ich Wert and released last month, Scharf travelled around Europe to explore these questions himself. The results are about as uplifting as you'd expect - especially when the research reveals significant shifts in percieved value depending on where you're from.
So first-off, what if you wanted to buy all the molecular components of your body so you could rebuild yourself from scratch? According to Jan Vollmer at Motherboard, Scharf found that you'll need to pay your local pharmacist about $1,900 to source all the ingredients. The most expensive part of this exercise will be funding all the carbon in your body - it makes up about 20 percent of you, and would cost at least $1,000.
Think your kidney is worth more than a French bulldog? Think again. While filming, Scharf was able to locate three men in a Moldavian village who sold their kidneys and got just $2,292 each. Yikes. Hopefully they didn’t find out that if a person wants to receive an illegally transplanted organ, they’re going to have to pay anywhere between $80,000 and $200,000 for the privilege. (And they’d better hope their body doesn’t reject their new kidney afterwards, because no refunds!)
And it’s not the shady surgeon who will pocket the majority of the doe - the even shadier characters who facilitate the transaction will be the ones eating money sandwiches at the end of the day.
All up, says Scharf, your organs would net you $2.1 million if sold on the black market.
But it's unlikely that any of you are interested in either giving or receiving an illegal kidney, so if you want to make some money by legally selling off your biological wares, Vollmer says, hair dealing in the Ukraine nets you about $76 for 100 grams, and donating your blood and plasma often will net you almost $1,000 per year.
How much does the government think you're worth? Scharf found that after the 9/11 attacks the US government compensated the victim’s families, paying out a total of $5.5 billion. That sounds pretty generous, until you hear how the money was split up - $5.5 million for the family of a deceased banker, and $197,000 for the family of a deceased dishwasher, based on how much each man was expected to earn in his lifetime.
More than 10 years prior, the average compensation for people who died in Eschede, Germany in 1998 because of a train accident was around $19,101.
Watch the rather unsettling trailer for Was Bin Ich Wert? below, and head to Motherboard to read Vollmer's interview with Scharf about his unusual project.