For vintage memorabilia enthusiasts, auction houses are the be place to discover the rarer of finds. Anyone with a sizable pockets book, and the willingness to spend upwards of millions of dollars, can walk away with a truly one of a kind piece of history.

While houses like Juilen’s offer celebrity costumes and other miscellaneous items of the stars to their loyal bidder, Heritage Auction in Dallas, TX has lots of the best of the best when it comes to just about anything you can imagine. From practically untouched comics from as early as the thirties to Eric Bank’s Hall of Fame ring, there’s something for just about everyone.

The History of Heritage

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The story of Heritage opens with two competitors: Jim Halperin and Steve Ivy. Back in the 70’s, these two were found a great success deal of success by selling rare coins. Only just entering their twenties the two were regarded as the biggest coin salesmen of their time, with Halperin operating in his Boston based store New England Rare Coin Galleries and Ivy bringing Heritage to Dallas in 1976. They were two college dropouts who were taking over the rare coin industry . . . that was until the American silver rush ended.

The eighties saw the value of the coins that the young entrepreneurs were selling plummet 50%. Halpern’s business wasn’t doing so well, but Ivy’s was moderately holding up. This lead him to sell New England Rare Coin Galleries an associate named Dana Willis in 1982 (though it ended up going bankrupt five years later when Willis was charges with fraud). Halperin moved down to Dallas in 1983 to join forces with Ivy at Heritage.

“I have no idea what sealed the deal,” Halperin told the Dallas Observer, “It was the sweep of history. I like Steve and trust him and hope the feeling is mutual, but it wasn’t an easy decision. I never had to answer to anybody till then.”

Halperin’s  Controversy

Though Heritage was doing much better the the addition of Halperin, gaining foreign offices it had not obtained beforehand, there were certainly some bumps in the road to becoming the premiere auction house it is today.

From the earliest days of his career, Halperin had a habit of getting into unethical business. For instance, at just thirteen, he took out magazine adds and cajoled people to join his fake sales network. When postal inspectors found out about his scheme, he was forced to pay back the $100,000 in dirty money he obtained.

He retuned to his shady dealings in 1987 when he created a new coin grading agency called Numismatic Certification Institute. While this seemed like a reasonable venture, it shed a rather telling light on the more nefarious money making schemes that Halperin. He was giving highly inflated grades for the coins he sold, making his consumers pay twice as much as they would at another shop. His luck ran out when the FTC caught him red handed and made Heritage pay back $1.2 million in restitution, according to Forbes.

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Though one of their biggest and final business mishaps came in 1997, when a Louisiana based dealership, Blanchard & Co filed a lawsuit against them. The dealership, who Forbes states had a $2.5million loan with Heritage from 1992, was reportedly being forced to pay higher prices for coins than other customers. While an arbitration panel required Heritage to pay the dealer  $23 million, Blanchard ended up settling for less than that amount.

A New Day For Heritage

As all things much change, Heritage isn’t the same auction house it was when it first started out. It made it’s first comic sale in November 2001, with Halperin selling his personal collection of Mad magazine art and other selections for his house. They sold for around $500,000. They soon found their newest cash cow as their continued comic auctions brought in $3.5 million annually until reaching an astonishing $79 million in 2020.

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Nowadays, Heritage sells a very vast selection of items, from ancient, Chinese figurines to Orson Welles’ jacket form Citizen Kane. Their immaculate stock of one of a kind items brings in people from all across the country who are willing to spend a fortune. Heritage Auction has been breaking auctioning records for decades now. Just recently, it broke the record for most expensive video game sale twice in span of only two days! The first was an auctioning of an extremely limited edition copy Nintendo’s 1987 Legend of Zelda NES for $870k.

“I had a lot of confidence in this game, and, yet, I still feel like the reality of today’s bidding exceeded my vision of how it would play out. Making history is never an easy thing,” the auction house’s video game specialist Valarie McLeckie expresses in a statement.

Heritage blew the freshly achieved record out of the water two days later when it sold yet another vintage NES game, 1997 Super Mario Bros for a shocking $1.56 million.

Trading cards are another thing that big spenders like to splurge on nowadays at Heritage. Just two months ago, the auction house broke the record for the highest priced hockey card when it sold a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie for $3.37 million.

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Sources: Dallas Observer, Forbes, Heritage Auctions, CNN

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