Posts Tagged ‘Barry Halper’

Barry Halper was the owner of the most extensive collection of baseball memorabilia. Not only that, but he owned about 1 percent of the New York Yankees, and stood as a limited partner since the 1970’s.

He began collecting autographs as an 8-year-old hanging around the Yankees’ minor league ballpark in Newark. He went on to assemble the nation’s most acclaimed private collection of baseball memorabilia. His collection was thought of as the finest, and it amassed some 80,000 items.

His collection was displayed in the basement of his former home in Livingston. When you would ring the front doorbell of his home, you would hear a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” His basement was like a small museum, including a hidden switch to a swing open panel, behind which were some of his game-worn jerseys of famous players. Many items from his collection have since turned out to have been stolen and the FBI has launched an investigation.

In November 1998, the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office purchased about 20 percent of his collection, then donated the items to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  In September 1999, Mr. Halper sold the bulk of his collection at a widely publicized Sotheby’s auction (“The greatest private collection of baseball memorabilia ever assembled-the Barry Halper Collection” or the “World Series of Sports Auctions”) in New York for a record-breaking $21.8 million.

Following the Sotheby’s auction, Halper remarked:

“It makes me feel so proud that my collection will be carried on by everyone who participated in the past week’s sale. I am also glad that the Hall of Fame has part of my collection where it will reside in perpetuity.”

Sotheby’s released a three-volume book, The Barry Halper Collection of Baseball Memorabilia, that included over 1,500 color photographs of the collection, giving history for many of the items, details about Halper’s collection through the years, and a history of baseball.

“This is a collection of holy icons and sacred documents, amassed by one of the game’s high priests. This is no mere ‘baseball memorabilia.’ It is baseball’s heritage.” -Peter Golenbock

Faced with declining health, Mr. Halper sold off his baseball collection to make orderly payments of estate taxes. Barry Halper died at the age of 66, in 2005 due to complications from long-standing health issues. The cause was complications of diabetes, said his son Jason. He left us much too soon.


Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: