4 People Who Bought Back What They Sold

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The saying goes, "If you love something, set it free. If it doesn't come back to you..." Well, sometimes you just have to buy it back.

1. Michael Birch

Bebo, come back! English tech entrepreneur Michael Birch sold his social networking site Bebo to AOL for $595 million back in 2008. (The acquisition would later be considered "one of the worst deals ever made in the dotcom era.") Since then, well... Have you ever used Bebo? Probably not. AOL didn't develop it enough to compete with Facebook. In 2010, AOL sold the site to Criterion Capital Partners for a fraction of what it paid. 

On July 1, Birch bought Bebo back (say that five times fast) for $1 million. He tweeted his reason:

2. Michael Dell

Companies regularly buy back their own stock to keep controlling interest, take advantage of undervalued shares, and meet earnings per share targets. Michael Dell founded Dell Computer Corporation in 1984. Four years later, the company went public with 3.5 million shares.

In February, Michael Dell announced plans to buy back over $24 billion in shares, making the company private. Fortunately, he's got plenty of cash, as well as backing from friends like Microsoft. There are a number of theories about why Dell wants to buy back his namesake company—and what the consequences could be. This month, shareholders will vote on the bid from Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Dell's largest external investor, has proposed that shareholders vote in a new board of directors that will offer them $14 per share instead of the currently offered $13.65. Those pennies really add up!

3. The Cleveland Indians

Sometimes Major League baseball teams trade a player away, only to realize they need him back in subsequent years. Such was the story of Kenny Lofton and the Cleveland Indians ... twice. Lofton was traded to Atlanta after being part of dominant, but championship-less Indians teams in the mid-90s. He spent a year there before Cleveland reacquired him. Lofton left the team again in 2002 to play for Cleveland's divisional rivals, the Chicago White Sox. But the on-again, off-again relationship didn't end there! In 2007, the Indians traded to acquire Lofton from the Texas Rangers. The player finished his career in the same city where he started.

The Indians had a similar relationship with slugger Jim Thome, who jilted the Tribe in free agency after the 2002 season and took his talents to Philadelphia. Thome was booed by Cleveland fans for years until the club pulled off a trade to get him back in 2011. A month after rejoining, the Indians revealed plans for a statue of Thome in the stadium. Thome (the person, not the statue) responded by mashing a home run to the spot where the proposed statue would stand.

4. Vincent Campbell

You can go home again. In 2005, Irishman Vincent Campbell sold his home and property in the Limerick village of Ballycummin for $3.9 million. The site was set to become a car dealership, but plans never came to fruition. In June, Campbell bought the home and property back at an auction for $279,580. He doesn't plan to move back in right now, but will relocate his cattle.

The dramatic fluctuations of the real estate market can be unbelievable. Also unbelievable: That a guy from a place called Ballycummin didn't have a name like Roddy McGillicuddy. (This example name is totally made up. Mad props to any actual Roddy McGillicuddy.)