Author makes $23,595 bet on popular toy -- but gets burned by online auction rules
Sara Gruen (Facebook)

A bestselling author hoped to cash in on this year's toy craze -- but her dreams crashed against strict limitations on online auction sites.

Sara Gruen, author of the New York Times bestseller "Water for Elephants," correctly guessed that Hatichmals would become the next Cabbage Patch Kid or Tickle Me Elmo, reported the Philly Voice.

She bought 156 of the toys over four days after Thanksgiving, at a total cost of $23,595.31, which she planned to resell to raise money for a "Making a Murderer"-style documentary to free a man she believes is wrongly imprisoned.

The Asheville, North Carolina-based author told the newspaper she has already gone $150,000 into debt working on behalf of the man, whom she said would soon become well-known.

Her Hatchimals speculation proved accurate, because the manufacturer has been unable to keep up with demand, but instead Gruen is still sitting on more than 150 toys she cannot sell.

After listing just three Hatchimals on eBay, the website notified Gruen that, as a new seller, she would not be able to list another until seven days had passed since the last one she listed.

At that rate, the newspaper reported, Gruen would be able to sell nine Hatchimals by Christmas.

“It felt like I got hit with a freight train. I waited until the next morning to tell my husband that I’d completely ruined us,” Gruen told the Voice. “He should have murdered me. I ran up the credit cards for this. But he feels sorry for me, he feels bad that I feel bad. I married a saint.”

Gruen met similar responses from other websites, which limit listings of certain popular items to curtail counterfeiters and scammers.

She's got boxes of Hatchimals sitting on her front porch, with another 63 still on their way, and is hoping to sell some of them through a Shopify storefront -- although they're still marked up.