An auctioneer in New Jersey thinks someone might pay $1 million for a simple plastic binder containing a printed speech that was read aloud just nine years ago by a politician who is very much still alive.
Goldin Auctions, in partnership with the Jackie Robinson Foundation, is opening up a Jackie Robinson 70th anniversary auction on Monday, April 3. The occasion: 70 years since Robinson made his debut in pro baseball. The items: 350 rare collectibles from sports (two Robinson game-used bats, Muhammad Ali’s robe from his 1964 fight with Sonny Liston) and from the Civil Rights movement (a copy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 speech).
The prize item, Yahoo Finance has learned, is a copy of President Barack Obama’s Aug. 28, 2008, speech made at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where he accepted the nomination for president.
The 54 printed pages are inside a black binder that Obama had at the podium with him; he turned the pages as he read from a teleprompter. (The purpose of the printed copy was as a backup in case the teleprompter went out.)
Goldin Auctions will start the bidding on the Obama speech at $100,000. Ken Goldin, the proprietor, estimates the item will fetch at least $750,000 but “I see no way this is not a seven-figure piece.” President Obama’s staff did not respond to a request for comment.
It might be hard to imagine that someone would pay $1 million for a simple printed speech inside a plastic binder. But Goldin’s high expectations are based on two factors.
First, there’s the historical significance of the speech. “This speech occurred 45 years later to the day of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. And this is what he had with him on the podium, and this was the historic document that really completed the dream of Martin Luther King.”
Second, Goldin says recent market trends in auctioned memorabilia show deep-pocketed collectors spending more, not less. An autographed Malcolm X letter was recently valued above $1 million; notes from Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech have been valued at $10 million. Goldin says he regularly auctions prison letters sent by Tupac Shakur for eye-popping prices; and last year, Goldin sold a LeBron James rookie card for $312,000—and James isn’t even retired. (Goldin also auctioned off the famous “Jumbo” Honus Wagner T206 baseball card last year for $3.12 million.)
In case anyone doubts the authenticity of the Obama speech, Goldin says the binder was grabbed by a construction worker who helped build the stage and podium; as his crew disassembled the stage, the worker offered the binder to Secret Service agents, but they allowed him to keep it. Goldin Auctions is including the worker’s DNC badge along with the speech. The worker gave the binder to his daughter and son-in-law, who were big Obama supporters, as a gift, so they are the owners.
For every item sold, 10% of the proceeds will go to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, 10% to Goldin Auctions (which normally takes a fee of 20%). The rest goes to the owner of each item.
Who might bid on the Obama speech? Goldin, who normally sticks to auctioning sports items, says with a wink, “I think we are going to get a lot of new people who will register [to bid]… I do think it will be a political thing.”