Winter Olympic Memorabilia Can Command Top Dollar
Another Olympic Winter Games has come and gone. By all media accounts, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should be happy with the results of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics. The organizers did well insuring the safety and security of the world’s attending athletes and spectators. Viewership and ad revenue for NBC didn’t break any records but delivered solid numbers none-the-less.
Most importantly, the games themselves delivered some competitive drama across multiple sports. Despite the American’s not faring as well as they have in other Winter Games, they still managed to rank 4th overall (at the time of this writing) in the total medal count. The U.S. team won 23 medals in total; nine gold, eight silvers and six bronze. Many of these medal winners have autographs in the previously discussed 2018 Topps Winter Olympics Trading Cards.
Unlike the five major sports of baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer, the periodic nature of the Olympics can dramatically influence memorabilia prices. Most savvy auction houses time the sale of Olympic memorabilia to coincide with an Olympic Games to capitalize on the spotlight and maximize potential profits.
While baseball will always reign supreme in terms of the most valuable sports memorabilia of all-time. Some unique pieces from past Winter Olympic Games have certainly held their own at the auction block, specifically those being hockey related. Here is a look at some notable sales of memorabilia in recent years.
The Miracle on Ice
In February of 2013, the acclaimed Heritage Auctions house featured the personal memorabilia of Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. hockey team.
This year marks the 38th anniversary of one of the most dramatic moments in Olympic competition in history. At the 1980 Winter Olympics, which took place in the tiny upstate New York town of Lake Placid, a group of college kids faced off against the heavily-favored Soviet Union Red Army men’s hockey team. With legendary broadcaster Al Michaels calling the game, those old enough to remember can still hear the momentous call of, “Do you believe in miracles? . . . . YES!!!!” as the U.S. beat the Russians 4-3 to advance to the gold medal game which they won.
The era was marked by hyper-inflation, high unemployment, the Rust Belt and the constant fear of nuclear Armageddon at the height of the Cold War. That game, played by boys against men, raised the spirits of a country mired in collective depression. As a result of the deep and meaningful memories tied to that epic competition, memorabilia from that game tends to sell at a premium.
The jersey Mike Eruzione wore during the “Miracle on Ice” game. The gavel dropped at an astounding $657,250.
In February of 2013, the acclaimed Heritage Auctions house featured the personal memorabilia of Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. hockey team. Headlining the sale was the jersey he wore during the “Miracle on Ice” game. The gavel dropped at an astounding $657,250. Other highlights from that auction included the sale of Eruzione’s game-used “Miracle on Ice” stick which realized $286,800. Interesting to note is that the stick was sold this past week on Feb. 22, 2018, in a private sale. The sale was brokered by SCP Auctions who said that the price paid was $290,000.
Some people make the mistake of thinking the U.S. beat the Russians for the gold medal. In fact, the team had to refocus themselves and take on an equally talented Finnish team to win the gold. Eruzione’s jersey from that game sold for $286,800. Even less glamorous items commanded good money, including the warmup suit he wore during the gold medal ceremony ($26,290), his game-used Team USA gloves ($53,775), and worn pants ($26,680).
The late coach of the 1980 U.S. hockey team, Herb Brooks.
The warm-up jacket Coach Brooks wore during the gold medal ceremony sold for $27,584.
Even the late coach of the team, Herb Brooks, who was played by Kurt Russell in the 2004 film Miracle, garnered interest in some of his personal items. Most notable of which was the warm-up jacket he wore during the gold medal ceremony which sold for $27,584.
What future treasures will memorabilia from the 2018 Winter Olympics produce? Only time will tell.
Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 25 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been involved with multi-media content development for several sports collectibles websites. Currently the Senior Marketing Manager for Sports & Entertainment at the hobby distributor GTS Distribution, he is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live streaming and nationally broadcast web show, Go GTS Live – The Hobby’s Web Show. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.
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