Q and A with Gary Cypres Part III: Why collecting must include selling off as well

The Gary Cypres Q&A continues:

LotQ: How does collecting involve the process of selling things as well?
Of course, that’s the other part of it. Everything is for sale, technically. That’s how things come to auction. The reality is, at some point, it’s for sale. Now, the question, I’ve sold my basketball collection for the most part, significant other items that don’t play into the Dodger-Yankee rivalry, so I definitely sell. If someone offers me the right price, it’s only a matter of : What can I re-invest it in? Sometimes, you get a crazy price offered, you take it, and something else comes up. It’s not like you’re liquidating. Sometimes you sell to buy, and sometimes you buy to sell. Every collection ultimately faces the day when they sell. I don’t wait for that day. I’ve sold a lot of things.

Q: If you’ve enjoyed something for a long time, it’s time to move on?
Yes, by the very nature of all this, it takes a while from an investment point of view to get price increments on something. Obviously, during the recession, no one was going to sell. In the last few years, prices have risen and I’ve sold into the market, as they say. I sell things perhaps don’t belong long term. I’m active.

Q: Is it part of a portfolio to buy and sell for their value rather than for sentimental reasons?
I think realistically age has something to do with this as I approach 70. That’s hard enough to contemplate. You face the issue of: What do I do with my collection? The answer: You begin to sell. I’ve sold a lot over the years and when’s the best time. In the industry, you buy, you hold, you sell. Like paintings or wine. Let me mature. There’s a lag of some significant years sometimes from a selling perspective. The economy has to be right, too. The last few years pricing is good, so we sell into it.

Q: This is a good time to be in the sports memorabilia business as far as having investments come to fruition?
Yes, this is a good time to be a seller, and a buyer. From a seller, you’re seeing substantial gains over things you’ve bought over the years. It’s a strong market. From a collecting point of view, from that standpoint, it’s also a good time to be out there. All of the sudden, price drives quantity out, quantity means it’s available and you can start building collections again. The dynamic between seller and buyer is there especially for expensive things, you need that combination.

Q: The market isn’t too saturated with too many things out there to buy?
No, in fact, I think it’s the opposite. For the first time, you see a lot of new buyers. All my friends in the auction business say there are new, younger, wealthy buyers. We saw a Babe Ruth uniform go for $4.4 million – that’s a milestone, like they’d have in contemporary art. Then we see millions for an item, that’s a different investor and you’ve broken through price-resistant barriers. You have to remember, it takes two to create auction prices. Only three or four bidders establish a more realistic auction  base. I monitor all this, especially in the iconic baseball figures, and we’re get unprecedented pricing. That’s good for the seller but as long as long as there are buyers, it’s good for them, too. Time will tell. Things are good now. The auction houses are having record years. More are coming in. It shows the industry is maturing and more collections comes up, with good pricing and time devoted to the providence and authenticity of an item now that we’ve ever had historically.


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