Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mike Eruzione Auction Results

To follow up on our story on Friday concerning the Miracle on Ice and our preview of the auction of Mike Eruzione's jerseys, stick and other equipment and clothing related to the 1980 Olympics, the sale took place in New York on Saturday evening and the results are in - with one huge surprise.

Mike Eruzione jerseys photo Eruzione-collection.jpg

We must frankly admit we were shocked to see the price that his white jersey worn when he scored the winning goal against the Soviet Union sold for only $550,000. With the buyer's premium added on, the final cost to the buyer does rise to $657,250, but it is still a far cry from the $1.27 million that Paul Henderson's Team Canada jersey worn when he scored a late goal in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

Perhaps the Canadians considered the Henderson jersey to be more of a national treasure and feared it falling into the wrong hands, such as those of one of the card companies who may have been tempted to cut it up into pieces and make trading cards out of it. Or perhaps there were simply two very well off people who really, really wanted Henderson's jersey and were willing to go to great lengths to acquire it. In the end, Henderson's jersey was secured by a benefactor, Mitchell Goldhar of Toronto, who obtained the jersey from it's American owner, and not only returned the jersey to Canada, but then sent the iconic jersey on a national tour of Great White North.

While there is no denying that Henderson's jersey is of the highest significance, arguably near to or even on par with Eruzione's jersey, there is no way we'd ever deem it to be worth twice that of Eruzione's. Case in point, the IIHF ranked the Miracle on Ice as the #1 story of the century and Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series as #2, which you would think would put both jerseys on relatively even footing, value-wise.

Eruzione goal photo Eruzionegoal.jpg
Eruzione's life changed with this shot, as he
scored the winning goal in the Miracle on Ice

We also would have assumed that there would have been a larger demand for the USA jersey simply based on the size of the population of the United States vs. Canada and with the auction having a fair amount of advance publicity as well as taking place in New York, rather than being part of an hockey related auction located in Canada.

Among the other items in the auction, the results were as follows:

The stick used to score the winning goal in the Miracle on Ice - $262,900
His blue jersey worn in the gold medal clinching game vs. Finland - $286,800
His warmup suit worn during the medal ceremony - $26,290
The gloves he wore in the Miracle on Ice - $53,775
The pants he worn in the Miracle on Ice - $26,680

Many of the other items Eruzione offered up for sale do not conclude until later today, such as his cowboy hat and jacket and sweater from the opening ceremonies, parka, other sweaters, knit caps, hockey socks, gear bag, pads and Olympic Team watch.

While the blue jersey went for more than it's $200.000 estimate and the stick surprised by going for more than twice it's $100,000 pre-sale estimate, there clearly must be a certain level of disappointment on the part of Heritage Auctions and Eruzione and his his family when the white jersey failed to even approach the pre-sale estimate of a million dollars, particularly with Henderson's jersey as a yardstick for such a significant, high end jersey, particularly in light of just how rare the jerseys are (a 20 man roster) and how few of them have been offered for sale - Eruzione's being only the third white one and fifth overall (counting his blue one sold today) in 33 years.

eruzione jerseys photo Eruzionejerseys.jpg
Eruzione with his 1980 jerseys and the stick used to score his famous goal

It's hard to figure. When dealing with high end items such as this, it's difficult to blame "the economy", as the buyers for items such as this, the "super rich" always seem to have the wherewithal to spend on items like this. Additionally, the other significant items, the blue jersey and the stick, performed as good or better than expected, so it wasn't like all the lots across the board were down.

Honestly, as we stated in our preview article, we fully expected this jersey to surpass the Henderson jersey and would not have been surpassed to see it reach the $2 million mark and didn't think $3 million was out of the question if two or more determined buyers just had to have it, which is all you need at an auction to turn heads, something this auction apparently did not attract.

With Eruzione's jersey having now sold for "just" $657,250 and Ken Morrow's similar one selling for $104,328 one year ago, perhaps the Henderson jersey is the anomaly and not the benchmark after all.

It will be interesting to find out who the buyer was, for not only the white jersey but the blue one as well, and what their intentions are for the jerseys.

In the end, we feel the white jersey still went for less than it should have, and so does Heritage based on their pre-sale estimate, and that some day in the not-too-distant future, the buyer of the white jersey will be able to realize a healthy profit from their apparently well timed purchase. Consider that Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall paid $451,000 for a Honus Wagner T-206 baseball card in 1991 and the card sold in 2007 for $2.8 million.

That's assuming the buyer does not donate the white Eruizone jersey to a hall of fame or museum and it survives being cut into pieces by a card company…

1 comment:

  1. In retrospect I am not hugely surprised that this jersey didn't fetch top dollar. Canadians are nuts about hockey. Hockey culture is their national culture. While the Miracle on Ice transcended hockey (and sports) in the US, I don't think it is something generally ingrained in our national consciousness. Hockey kids today know about it of course, but kids in general probably don't and overall nostalgia for the event has probably waned somewhat since the 2002 Olympics and the subsequent release of the movie Miracle. This jersey might have sold for a few dollars more 8 or 9 years ago. Yes, while any of us lower-level collectors would have thrown all our expendable income on this shirt, it somehow just didn't resonate strongly enough with the high-income crowd.

    I just learned something interesting about Eruzione when I read his Wikipedia page - In 1984 Alan Eagleson challenged the legitimacy of Eruzione's and Morrow's status as amateur Olympians. I never read that before:
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=DIoxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iaUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1078,2512420&dq=mike+eruzione&hl=en

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