30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Profiting Off the Death of an Individual

I just read a great post over at The Card Chop that talked about a topic I find to be very interesting: Profiting Off the Death of an Individual.

This topic has been debated for years... with reasonable arguments from both sides.

Like most things in life... selling sports memorabilia comes down to supply & demand... and for one reason or another demand goes up when people pass away. Which is why some sports card enthusiasts (especially the ones who make a living off of selling cardboard) find the passing of an athlete the opportunistic time to sell their cards.

On the flipside... some find it to be "immoral", "disgraceful", and/or "disrespectful" to make money off of something so heavyhearted.

Until recently... I would have indubitably sided with the latter. Just saying... "profiting off the death of an individual" sounds wrong.

But a friend of mine is going through some very tough times financially and there are months when he has to sell off portions of his collection to pay the bills.

On Thursday, we talked about Gary Carter and his impact on the game & our childhood, along with his pieces of cardboard in our collections. He has a few autographs of Mr. Carter that he's picked up over the years and was considering putting them up on eBay.

I'm not sure if he has or not... but knowing his current financial situation... I wouldn't look down upon him if he did.

Personally... I have never tried to sell anything of a person in the wake of their passing, and although I can't say for sure... I'm fairly certain, I never will. But I understand why some choose to do so.

What's your take on this topic?

Happy Saturday everyone. Sayonara!

Extra Edition!

The Card Chop's post covers Topps' recent decision to open up the Topps Vault and sell some one-of-a-kind Gary Carter items... in which they plan on donating 10% of their proceeds to the Gary Carter Foundation.

I think it's pretty cool that they're willing to give collectors the opportunity to purchase these cool treasures... but agree with The Chop Chop 100%.

Topps... if you're reading this... please consider giving more than 10%. The fact is... you're not a struggling collector... you're a corporation that has vaults filled with assets. Give 100% of the proceeds to the Gary Carter Foundation and use it as a tax write-off.


  1. I generally get a chuckle out of dealers who do "load up" when an athlete passes and display a lot of the decedents game-used/autos, etc.

    Those are the tables that I usually walk by pretty quickly when I'm at card shows. No card is needed THAT badly.

    As far as Topps only giving 10% to charity, I see them as one of the dealers I would walk by as described above. It is a shame...

  2. I'm not against making a profit on an investment. Also, as you point out sometimes people will sell even personal items out of need. What I don't like (and those who responded disagreed with me) is something like this:

  3. The knee-jerk reaction is to scold the dealers who try to make a profit off recently deceased celebrities. And there are some really disgusting examples.

    But I was thinking: in the case of Gary Carter and of Whitney Houston, when they died, there was a natural feeling of admiration for these people's talents. And, for me anyway, I wanted to honor their time on earth by going back and seeing how many cards of Carter I had, or by adding a couple Whitney songs to my ipod (and I never cared much for her music). It is almost in acquiring that we are honoring. We want something connected to them because we suddenly appreciate them more in their passing (why that is is another topic entirely).

    So the demand for Carter's cards might go up -- not really for seedy reasons but reasons of respect and appreciation. And why wouldn't a dealer want to sell to someone like that?

  4. It really depends on how the person selling goes about doing it. I don't judge most of them - but some just get so tacky with the way they hype their merchandise, it's hard not to.

  5. When I first read about it, I didn't like it. But the more I thought about it, it's supply and demand. With the death of Carter, his demand has gone up so why shouldn't people sell his cards. What I do hate, is when they jack the price up hoping to get someone who doesn't actively collect cards and doesn't know better, but wants to pick one up. That is taking advantage of the situation.

    Now what Topps is doing, why even donate the money. The whole reason they are selling those cards and then advertising that his foundation gets 10% is to make a profit. Otherwise, they would give more if not all of the money to the foundation. I understand them releasing the cards for sale. But seriously, 10%. To me, that's using his name and foundation to make a profit. And that I don't like.

  6. Whenever a ball player passes away, I usually don't even think about selling his cards, but I might go out and try to buy some of his cards (which obviously means someone has to sell them). So as long as it's done tastefully, I good with it.

  7. I was about to post about the same topic, as I sold a few Carters the other day.

    You're not profiting off of an individual you're profiting out of news, any news is good news in the sports card world.

    even if it is very sad news.

  8. I agree with what most have already said. If you're going to sell a card, you want to do it when you can sell it for the highest amount. It's no different than selling a card after a player wins the World Series or Slam Dunk Contest. It can seem a little sleazy at times when it comes to a tragic murder or things like that, but in the case of Gary Carter people knew that he was sick for a while now and anyone picking up his autograph within the past couple of years was doing so with this event in mind whether it was for profit or just to get it before it was no longer available.

    I completely disagree with what Topps has done though. Donating just 10% is a slap in the face because these cards will currently sell for more than 10% higher than they would have before Carter passed. So, if something would normally sell for $100, but then the price rises to around $150 due to the player's death and you donate 10% of that, you really aren't giving anything up at all. 50% should have been the minimum that Topps donated and a handful of items at 100% would have been a great PR move for Topps. Unfortunately, Michael Eisner hasn't had the same magic at Topps that he had when he first arrived at Disney. This seems more like his unsuccessful final few years there.

  9. is capitalism.

    Buy the rumor, sell the news.

    It's kinda morbid, but the stock market does it all the time and that has a lot more effect on the world than autographs of Gary Carter or MP3s of Whitney Houston.

    As far as the Topps thing goes, I specifically avoid companies trying to hawk their wares by using a charity push. Want to support a charity? Donate money or resources to that charity and shut up about it. Putting a picture of the charity's logo on your product to move more units is just sleazy whether you're selling dish soap or yogurt or autographs.

  10. thanks for all of the feedback... love the variety of responses.

    hackenbush - funeral cards? i can understand a die hard santo collector wanting to add this to their pc (especially a super collector). what i can't grasp is that someone who attended santo's funeral had the nerve to sell this card. imho... that's crossing the line.

    night owl - thanks for the positive spin on this. i'll try to keep this perspective in mind the next time this discussion comes up when i'm hanging out with my card buddies.

    martyn - interesting way of putting this information. i think most news is good news for the sports card world... but i'm not sure i'm ready to say "all" news. ;-)

    offy - we're on the same page

    dayf - i'll be using your stock market analogy in the future... great comparison. & i agree w/you 100% on the companies supporting charities.