Column: For that kind of money, get a jetpack!
So if you've got that kind of money laying around in a drawer and an itch to play the collectibles market, here are the two most important things to know:
— The safest buys will always be stuff once owned or worn by those who, like those Brooklyn Atlantics, have passed into the great beyond. The highest-selling item ever bought on the memorabilia market was the earliest known Yankee jersey worn by Babe Ruth. It went for over $4.4 million just last May and is considered the likeliest contender to break the record if and when it's offered for sale again. Coming in at No. 2 was the original copy of the "Founding Rules of Basketball" written by the game's patriarch, James Naismith, in 1981; that document fetched just over $4.3 million.
— If you like controversy, make sure you have deep pockets and plenty of time on your hands. Cartoonist Todd McFarlane paid more than $3 million for the 70th home run ball disgraced slugger Mark McGwire hit in 1998, and he'd be lucky to get 10 percent of that sum for it today. But McFarlane also seemingly overpaid for some Barry Bonds-powered mementos, and he can afford to take a long range view of the value of his collection.
"I try to take the emotion out of this. We're in the eye of the storm of this controversy. But I'm thinking 20 years in the future, this doesn't matter," McFarlane said in an interview a while back. "You can bellyache all you want, public: it's still going to be in the record book. Get over it! It doesn't matter what you think; what matters is what is. There's not going to be an asterisk. There's going to be a number in a book. I know people who don't think Bush was really elected president, but there he is. You don't have to accept it personally. He'll still be in the history books."
Personally, I'd rather have the jetpack, but something tells me McFarlane is right. As another rich guy famously said once, "The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys."
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.
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