Monday, July 27, 2015

Bizzarre True Crime: Embezzlement, Fraud, and Collectible Comics

Description: A copy of "All Star Comics
#3" encased in a protective sealed cover.
It all started with the comic book pictured at left, as The Verge reports:

Published in 1940, it’s a milestone in what’s known as the Golden Age of comic books: the debut of the first bonafide superhero team, the Justice Society of America. There’s hardly a plot, only a meeting of some of DC’s biggest stars... So when an All Star Comics #3 surfaced at Heritage Auctions’ first big sale of 2012, collectors took notice. The copy was off-white, its condition ranked at 8.5 out of 10 by the Certified Guaranty Company. CGC knew of only two higher-ranked All Star #3’s in the world, one of which (a 9.6) had sold for $126,500 back in 2002. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide — the bible on such matters — estimated an 8.5 copy to be worth somewhere between $36,500 and $70,750. 

But someone bidding at the Heritage auction was willing to pay significantly more. The comic had been low-balled at first, going for $49,293.75 during the auction itself. But after the official bidding closed, private offers flooded in: $65,000, then $75,000. In the end, it sold for $200,000, putting it in the same class as a record-breaking debut Spider-Man that had sold a few years earlier.

At first blush, it just looks like maybe it was someone who really, REALLY wanted that issue? Or maybe it was a new-money collector who didn't really have a handle on how bidding wars worked and had more money than sense. The truth was even wilder: it was part of a scheme to hide 9 million dollars a lawyer had embezzled from the company he was director of legal counsel. The Verge has the whole sordid story in full.

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