Verdict Puts Squeeze on O.J. Collectibles
Editor’s Note: Has the market for O.J. Simpson collectibles disappeared since his recent conviction on 12 felony counts? Or will there always be interest in this fallen sports hero?
I have to admit, it took me awhile to decide whether I should write this article. Most people are sick of the name O.J. Simpson, and frankly, I don’t want to give the guy any more attention. However, since this is a sports-collectibles blog, it’s necessary to discuss the most recent developments in Simpson’s controversial life.
After the “Trial of the Century” in 1995, the country was divided on O.J. Simpson. Many people felt O.J. got away with murder, and as a result, no one would touch his once-popular collectibles with a 10-foot pole. Whether it was a rookie card or a signed football helmet, collectors had no interest in most things with the name O.J. Simpson on it.
O.J. Simpson rookie card
However, through all the controversy, his rare pieces still remained valuable. While you might not be able to get much for his football cards, a rare piece like the suit he wore when acquitted for murder could fetch anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000, according to memorabilia experts. Other rare personal effects were still gaining high-price bids on eBay and other online shops.
These unique personal belongings were the types that Simpson was “trying to get back” during the now-infamous confrontation in the Las Vegas hotel room. The question today is this: In light of the recent prison sentence, will O.J.’s rare personal items lose all their worth?
O.J. Simpson pleads his case at the sentencing hearing after he was convicted of 12 felonies in connection with an armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel. Simpson maintained he was trying to recover collectibles that were legally his. (Pool photo by Isaac Brekken)
In the mainstream world of sports collectibles, it appears this is the final nail in the coffin for Simpson memorabilia. Most shops stopped dealing his pieces years ago, but now virtually all interest in “The Juice” has vanished. Controversy might help some athletes gain popularity, but for Simpson, it has made him a nationally despised ex-athlete.
For the typical sports collector who buys cards and game-used items, O.J. cards will no longer be bought because of his impressive athleticism but rather because they are needed to complete a set. As the Washington Post puts it, “Simpson makes Michael Vick’s gear look upscale.”
But what about that small sect of collectors who were bidding on Simpson’s personal items before this most recent case? These collectors don’t care about his athletic achievements. Instead, they’re fascinated with the celebrity surrounding his off-field controversy. So, will they continue to scour the Internet for rare memorabilia of the incarcerated ex-star? Or will even this market dry up?
eBay sales vanish
Just one day after the O.J.’s sentencing, I checked eBay to see if there was any action on his collectibles. As expected, his normal sports collectibles were getting no bids. This isn’t anything new as true sports fans stopped collecting these pieces years ago. However, what I found interesting was that the rare pieces (i.e. original courtroom sketches of O.J., collectibles of O.J. and his attorney, Johnnie Cochran, from trial of the century) were also getting no bids.
So, has this niche market of ambulance-chasing collectors finally lost interest in Simpson? For now, the answer is unclear. I expect there will always be those few collectors caught up in the controversy of this once-revered athlete who continue to buy his rare, sometimes disturbing, memorabilia. But it seems that even this market is shrinking quickly.
Eric Brantner is a baseball fan and freelance writer living in Houston.
Other stories by Eric Brantner:
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Antique Baseball Gloves
Red Sox Collectibles
Brett Favre Collectibles
Olympic Baseball Collectibles
Sports Collectibles Memories
Yankee Stadium Legacy Cards
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Mannings Spawn NFL Collectibles
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