Fake Bill Russell Rookie Card Sells On eBay For $5,841

And Authenticity Is Not Guaranteed

Several people made me aware of this listing on eBay last week:

An iconic, classic card of a GOAT, and it’s in amazing condition. Gem Mint 10 condition, in fact. It was at $570 at the time.

My friend Oliver was one of those people. “This can’t be real, right?” he asked. No, it can’t be, and it’s not. But Oliver reached out to the seller to ask about it. The seller told him that it was in a collection he acquired and he knew the slab was worthless, but he didn’t dare crack it and submit it to a legitimate grading company.

A legitimate grading company would likely tell him what he doesn’t want to hear: that the card is a counterfeit.

The card received 68 bids, and why not? Even if it’s not a 10, a PSA 8 last sold publicly for over $200,000 on Memory Lane Auctions. Even a 6 would return a tidy profit; the most recent public sale — also at Memory Lane — was almost $12,000.

And where’s the risk? eBay has an Authenticity Guarantee, right?

Wrong. At least not on this card. In February I wrote about loopholes in eBay’s program, and I missed this one. Cards must be graded by a legitimate grader, and eBay has named the same four I would: PSA, SGC, CGC, and BGS, or it must be raw (ungraded).

That leaves a pretty gaping hole for scammers: fake slabs that are easily obtained on Etsy (same with fake PSA slabs) as user I Am Meatballs points out on Twitter:

Meatballs later clarified that the Etsy seller will not counterfeit the card for you. So you’re on your own there. But for $12, they will create the label you need for your card, real or counterfeit. And the eBay Authenticity Guarantee is none the wiser, as are uninformed buyer.

But are they all uninformed? My friend Oliver certainly isn’t. And this Matt guy on Twitter doesn’t seem uninformed, either:

I was unable to find that listing on eBay, but the calculus is the same: you pay a small fraction of what it’s worth, assuming it’s authentic. But it’s not, and smart people who know better think they’re going to get an amazing deal and that the risk is worth it.

Back to the Russell: is spending $6,000 worth the risk? What percent of those cards in those slabs are legitimate? I’d guess close to 0%, if not actually 0%. And the people who have the money for, say, a PSA 8, are just buying a PSA 8. Which tells me that the likely situation here is that people who don’t have $6,000 to spare are throwing it away.

eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee is a great program, but it has serious loopholes, and scammy sellers will always take advantage of loopholes when big money is involved.

Be careful out there, friends.

No Newsletter Next Week

I’m taking a family vacation out west and will be away for eight days. My YouTube will either be a barren wasteland, or I may have a card shop video or some pre-recorded videos! I haven’t decided yet.

YouTube Comment Of The Week

I had a banner week for weird and wild comments. Here’s a taste, both from my video talking about my biggest card sale ever:

I’m greedy for selling too early and not getting more money?

If someone buys a card, they got ripped off. Got it.

It should be noted here that I ignore these comments, and you should too. I do respond to constructive criticism, but these are not that.

And the actual comment of the week, on my Attic Find Friday video, because it made me laugh:

If You’re Selling A Vintage Sports Card Collection (Sponsored Segment)

Last year, I tried buying collections and turning a profit on it and found it to be too time-consuming for my busy schedule. Plus I hate shipping cards and dealing with customer service issues.

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Upcoming Videos

Same exact planned videos as last week, since I didn’t get to any last week:

I have a fun video coming soon about the Sports Card Nonsense Facebook group.

A non-sports story about a wild find that was put up for sale on eBay without the owner knowing the value. I’ve spoken with the seller and think it’s interesting.

An overview of a vintage collection I was dying to buy from Facebook Marketplace, but it sold the same day it posted./Plus I finally received my big March purchase, so I have a short video coming about that one.

Channel Highlights From the Past Week

I talked about how eBay is acquiring Goldin Auctions, but I thought an interesting behind-the-scenes story might be fun for my newsletter. I somehow managed to get a really well-placed, connected source at some point over the winter. I actually strangely feel like we’ve become friends, despite the vast differences in who we are and what we collect. On the morning of the news that SGC was acquired by Collectors (PSA’s parent company), I was surprised my source hadn’t told me about this. I was 100% sure they knew about this acquisition. So I texted to ask why, and they immediately called me. They gave me some more details behind the sale, that I shared on a follow-up video, and also dropped the bomb on me that eBay was buying Goldin.

I think my jaw literally dropped. “Wait, Collectors is selling Goldin?” My source gave me a bunch of details, including the ones I shared on Saturday in my video.

I knew it was true; this person is extremely credible. But I couldn’t just share it as fact without confirming it elsewhere. Getting my first big scoop wrong in some way would destroy my credibility. So I reached out to other sources, all of whom had also heard that eBay was buying Goldin, but who also had been unable to confirm it. I wanted to be the first, which would have brought tons of exposure. So I posted on Twitter to see if I could get any bites:

Note the date on that. And note that Ken Goldin, who is very active on Twitter and follows me and responds to my tweets sometimes, ignored it.

After this other YouTubers started talking about it. But no second source emerged.

Until late Friday night:

I texted my source, “How does a meme account break this news?”

The response? “Because you didn’t have the guts to do it.” And this is correct! I didn’t want to destroy my credibility by releasing something from one source.

My theory is this:

By the time you read this on Monday morning, the “scoop” may be live on Cllct’s website. And my guess is there are several more parts to this deal that are not yet public.

My Pickup Of The Week


Subscriber Pickup Of The Week

Allon sent this to me a little while back, but I wanted to include it now:

I wanted to put my newest pickup for subscribers pickup of the week. I added a 1955 Sandy Koufax RC to my collection - my first grail card. At Christmas I decided to finally focus my collecting to bigger grail-type items. It only takes discipline to save which I had never done. Well two and a half months of savings resulted in the best card in my collection. Allon (Boston Fan)


To nominate your card for next week, reply to this email and include why it should be included and a photo. Please don’t be offended if I don’t reply.

When Courtney Recklein writes for Hobby News Daily, I link it. I have never spoken with Courtney, and I don’t always agree with her, but she’s such a great writer.

PSA Magazine did a feature on Alexis Ohanian collecting his wife’s — Serena Williams, by the way — cards and memorabilia. Unfortunately I don’t think PSA posts the articles in a linkable way online, but here is an excerpt.

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