The Underground Network for Very Important Memorabilia

Many of the most important pieces of sports memorabilia are sold privately and never make it to auction: Jackie Robinson's rookie jersey--arguably one of the finest pieces in existence--and his 1949 jersey; Babe Ruth's and Lou Gehrig's jerseys. These are just a few examples of artifacts I've bought and sold or brokered. If you rely solely on auction catalogs to provide you with material for your collection, you're at a disadvantage.
 
Why do some buyers and sellers prefer to work with me privately? The buyers typically own the country's finest collections--and they built them precisely by not relying on auctions. Rather, they make their wants known to one or two trusted dealers who they know will be aware when an important piece is discovered or when its owner first contemplates selling. They are willing to pay a preemptive price to keep it out of auction. And they get the first call. That's how you come to own Jackie Robinson's 1947 jersey before anyone else knows it even exists.
 
Sellers sometimes prefer it because it eliminates uncertainty; they know what they're getting. Anyone who has ever consigned more than a few lots to auction, particularly in a live format, knows that pieces can sell for much less than you expect. Ask the same seller how he feels about further reducing his proceeds by 20% to account for fees the buyer pays to the auction house (I'm assuming the item is so valuable that the seller is not charged a consignment fee, which is common for blockbuster pieces).
 
There are other times when a seller needs both certainty and speed. To meet their needs, we will often purchase the item directly from them. The whole transaction can often be completed in a few hours, including travel time, when necessary.

Auctions are a vital part of the collecting experience, but they can't meet everyone's needs in every circumstance. This is certainly true for the top collectors, who rely on a few dealers to source the items that they must have and that, as a result, you won't see.

3/11/2016