updated 5/5/2007 4:22:40 PM ET 2007-05-05T20:22:40

The government has ordered an Internet auction site to remove an advertisement in which a Brazilian man offered to sell his wife for about $50.

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The Secretariat of Public Policies for Women announced late Friday it had ordered Mercado Livre, partially owned by eBay Inc., to remove the ad and warned it was violating a law banning the offer or sale of “human organs, people, blood, bones or skin.”

The advertisement was no longer visible on the site Saturday.

It was posted by a man who gave his name as Breno and said: “I sell my wife for reasons I prefer to keep short ... I really need the money.”

The described his wife physically and listed her qualities as a homemaker and companion. He reportedly said she was 35 and “worth her weight in gold.”

The Estado news agency said it wasn’t clear if the ad was meant as a joke. It said Mercado Livre told it the ad hadn’t been noticed earlier because of the large number of products offered on the site — nearly 1 million.

There was no answer Saturday at phone numbers for Mercado Livre or its public relations agency.

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