Merchant Innovation

O.J. And The Mysterious Marketplace For Memorabilia


In something that felt like a throwback to the 1990s, O.J. Simpson was, once again, all over the news. This time, the news-worthy event was his parole hearing last week for the armed robbery and kidnapping of a sports memorabilia dealer in a Las Vegas hotel room more than a decade ago.

The motivation of said robbery? “Reclaiming” Simpson’s sports memorabilia he maintains was stolen from him a decade earlier and being sold by said dealer, Bruce Fromong. To get the job done, Simpson enlisted the help of two armed gentlemen to “negotiate” the return of that memorabilia without paying for its return. The rest, as they say, is legal history.

Fromong, for his part, testified he has forgiven Simpson for the robbery, that O.J. never personally held a gun on him and that the two men remain friends.

Which might sound a bit hard to believe at first, though it’s worth noting that — as a sports memorabilia dealer with O.J. Simpson merchandise to sell — Fromong might now be feeling very grateful to Simpson. After all, the value of his O.J. inventory just went up considerably.

“Anytime somebody’s in the news, [you’re] always going to see an initial spike for a few days for those few people that hope to get lucky, or think that it’s going to be something relevant and in-demand,” said Las Vegas-based sports memorabilia dealer Jeremy Brown. The bump, he noted, is usually pretty short — more than a week, but not much more than ten days.

Kieta and Victor Moreno — online memorabilia traders — noted the bump will be present for the next few days, particularly with items more relating to O.J.’s more scandalous post-football career life. After all, according to the duo, O.J. is still fairly frequently sought out by sports memorabilia collectors whose interest stems from his football career.

But, no matter what happens after the surge in interest, according to Brown, memorabilia and creating more of it (in the form of autographs or other personal items) are more or less about to be O.J. Simpson’s full-time job. The 70-year-old felon’s career opportunities are otherwise rather limited.

“I guarantee you he’s going to have a residency at some shop,” Brown said. “That’s going to happen.”

It’s something of a strange end to the story, what with Simpson potentially supporting himself by selling the very stuff that got him thrown into prison in the first place.

But memorabilia, its collectors and its sellers comprise a unique market. How unique?

We’re so glad you asked.
Charlie Sheen Wanted To Sell You A “Winning” Ring

Actually, that subheading is a little unfair — the ring is question doesn’t deserve the scare quotes that go around the words “Charlie Sheen” and “winning” anytime they’re written in the same sentence. The ring that Charlie Sheen sold was actually a winning ring — because its former owner was Babe Ruth.

Sheen auctioned off two pieces of precious Ruth memorabilia — his 1927 World Series ring and the original copy of the document selling Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the Yankees in 1919. Precious and pricey, the ring went for $2,093,927 and the contract for $2,303,920. That, incidentally, destroyed the previous record held by Julius Erving’s 1974 ABA championship ring’s price of $460,741.

Sheen, when asked why he was selling the items, noted that after having enjoyed them for the last twenty years, he felt it was time to let them go on to someone who would love and treasure them as much as he had.

“Whatever price it brings is gravy,” Sheen quipped.

Looks like he found himself a lot of gravy there.

Madonna’s “Intimate Items” No Longer For Sale

Even the “Material Girl,” it seems, has a right to privacy.

A slew of “intimate Madonna array” that was set to go up for auction has, for the time being, been kiboshed through a preliminary injunction by a New York Supreme Court judge. That injunction will halt the sale of 22 items Madonna told the court were “extremely private and personally sensitive.”

Among items up for sale? “Personally worn” satin underwear and a note from her one-time boyfriend, Tupac Shakur.

Madonna filed a suit claiming she had only just learned the property was part of a 128 item auction on, saying she had believed all of the items were in her own possession.

Darlene Lutz, described in auction materials as “Madonna’s art consultant” and “a long-time personal friend of Madonna’s from her innermost circle, knowing her for over 20 years,” is reportedly the person behind the auction.

Madonna’s filing indicates that though Lutz had been granted access to her property, the singer had “never sold, gifted or otherwise transferred title or a possessory interest in any of the Madonna Memorabilia to Ms. Lutz.” The filing also mentions Madonna would “suffer irreparable harm” caused by the “unauthorized display, disclosure and dissemination of highly personal information, including her, her friend’s and former boyfriends’ confidential mental thoughts and impressions.”

“I understand that my DNA could be extracted from a piece of my hair,” Madonna added in a statement to the court reported on by The New York Times. “It is outrageous and grossly offensive that my DNA could be auctioned for sale to the general public.”

Lutz has responded by calling the complaint “completely baseless and meritless,” adding that “Madonna’s allegations will be vigorously challenged and refuted in a court of law in due course. We are confident that the Madonna memorabilia will be back listed in a future Gotta Have Rock and Roll online auction once the legal proceeding is concluded.”

Lutz went on to argue that even if she did technically steal the stuff, the statute of limitations for any alleged theft of the items would have already expired. She further noted Madonna had released her claim in this case as part of a settlement in a previous action.

“This lawsuit is pretext for Madonna’s personal vendetta against Ms. Lutz, whom she already has sued once, over a decade ago, following a personal falling out,” Lutz’s lawyers wrote. “If Madonna truly wanted privacy, then mailing her lingerie was not the way to go.”

And finally, in music memorabilia you can actually buy, we have…

The King And His Contract

Seeing how Babe Ruth’s contract fetched more than $2 million, it is perhaps not entirely shocking that another famous contract copy has gone on the market.

“Elvis Presley’s first music agency contract is part of a large batch of Elvis collectibles that U.K. residents will have access to today,” the Henry Aldridge & Son auction house said in a release.

That contract was with the William Morris Agency and was signed by Elvis in 1956. According to reports by Henry Aldridge & Son, Elvis put his name to the paper one day after he recorded “Blue Suede Shoes.”

“This was the start, the beginning of an incredible relationship between Elvis and the William Morris Agency that would continue throughout Elvis’s career,” explained Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, in an email to Fox News.

The signed contract will be sold alongside an accompanying rider and copies of two photos of the signing.

So far, the contract’s estimated sale price is between $32,465 and $38,958 — but stay tuned.

Babe Ruth’s contract was supposed to go for less than $500,000.


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