With economic problems in the news it’s no surprise that one of the hot sellers on eBay this week are collectibles related to disgraced investor Bernie Madoff. Some people are selling off company swag they received as employees or investors, hoping to make back a little bit of cash they lost in this huge Ponzi scheme. Other are opportunists looking for a quick buck. As a memorabilia collector, what should you look for and what should you avoid?
Guide Continued Below…
Naturally, you should look for official Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities items. There are people out there trying to cash in by creating unofficial or fake items. For example, it wouldn’t be too difficult to print up some official looking stationary or stickers. As with any other collectible item, make sure that the seller is reputable and can back up the origin of the item in question. Be wary of skimpy listing with little information or sellers who don’t answer emails or are vague about the item.
Madoff’s investment firm was pretty generous with the trinkets they gave out to investors and employees so there are a wide variety of items available. I guess that’s where some of the $50 Billion went to. What are some items you should consider as long term collectibles and which should you avoid?
I’d recommend avoiding generic Madoff T-Shirts so far as collectible value goes. There are some funny ones that people created about the Ponzi scheme but they are unlikely to hold value. If you do go for an official Madoff t-shirt or other clothing item, look for one that has a specific date and event on it, like a company meeting, instead of a generically branded piece of clothing.
As for other items, such as flashlights, tote bags and beach chairs, look for those that are in new condition. People often put these items to use and, as with many other items, wear and tear is a concern. Make sure you ask about the condition if the seller doesn’t list it along with details on the history of the item.
How collectible are Madoff items and how collectible will they be in the future, say 20-50 years from now? That’s a good question and it probably depends on how severe our current economic downturn becomes. Many depression era items do sell well because of the impression it made on a generation but you won’t see too many Ford/Carter 70’s economic downturn items up for sale. Collectibles like this are a gamble but sometimes you can pick a winner.
What are your thoughts on Bernie Madoff memorabilia for sale on eBay?