QUESTION: Where are you from and how did you
get to your current position?
ANSWER: I was born and raised in the South
Side of Chicago. I have been collecting vintage material for
approximately 12 years. Bill Mastro and I become friends through
a high end client I brought him. Eventually I became more involved
in the company when I worked with Mastro Fine Sports to acquire
Ron Oser Enterprises and Robert Edwards Auctions to form MastroNet.
After serving on the Board of Directors for a year I joined as
a full time employee and recently was promoted to the position
QUESTION: I know that MastroNet was considering
going public. Will this happen in the near future?
ANSWER: In the past the public markets provided access to capital
and other benefits. In the current economic climate those benefits
have all but disappeared. Our medium term plan is to continue
to grow the business profitably and then look at various liquidity
opportunities in the future.
QUESTION: MastroNet is a consignment auction
house. Does MastroNet buy material outright?
ANSWER: We prefer to take consignments;
but will buy in certain circumstances. I would say as a rule
of thumb we own less than 5% of the material we offer for sale.
In the recent auction that did $6 million we may have owned $400k
QUESTION: About what percentage of potential
consignor material is rejected for auction due to not being of
high enough quality?
ANSWER: We reject approximately 25% of
the material we look at. The percentage was higher; but many
of our constituents understand after working with us that we
focus on high quality lots that exceed $1,000.
QUESTION: MastroNet publishes obviously
expensive mail-out catalogs for their auctions. How many registered
bidders do not participate online?
ANSWER: We remain committed to our catalogs.
Although the number of individuals participating on-line continues
to expand, we still believe many of our customers love the qualitative
aspects of the four color catalog. Approximately 65% of our bids
are taken on-line.
QUESTION: The auctions offer unequaled
sports material, both in quality and volume. How does MastroNet
get all the stuff? Is there someone in charge of shaking down
ANSWER: Believe it or not the reputation
we have built has resulted in many people coming to us. It is
a great position to be in. At the same time all of our employees
take responsibility for generating consignments. Admittedly Bill
(Mastro) and Rob (Lifson, President of Americana Division) are
the biggest catalysts for doing this.
QUESTION: I saw the headlines concerning
the Barry Bonds 70th Home Run Ball sold in most recent sports
auction. The articles suggested that the $52,000 final price
was low. My feeling is that the price was not unreasonable, considering
he hit three more home runs that year. Obviously, the original
seven figure predictions of the man who caught was a ridiculous
barometer. What are your thoughts?
ANSWER: I was disappointed it didn't bring
more, at the same time I don't believe it is appropriate to compare
the situation with 1998. 37year old record, popular players,
media frenzy, hugging the Maris family...all the stars were aligned
for that one.
QUESTION: Do you try on any of the game
used jerseys or caps?
ANSWER: No; but everyone in our office
loves to grip the bats of Cobb, Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, etc. when
they come in the office.
QUESTION: Your sports auctions basically
means 80% baseball material, and 20% other sports (football,
hockey, boxing, golf, etc). Can you briefly explain why baseball
is so dominant, especially considering that, with today's sports
viewers, football is probably more popular?
ANSWER: Although modern football is gaining
popularity, 40 years ago nothing completed with baseball when
it came to professional sporting events. I think it is harder
for fans to relate to players who play a 16 game season.
QUESTION: Has there been increased interest
in vintage golf memorabilia due to the popularity of Tiger Woods?
ANSWER: Vintage golf, all golf collectibles
for that matter are on the rise. I am sure Tiger has a lot to
do with that.
QUESTION: Similarly, does boxing's current
disgraceful state affect the values of vintage boxing material?
ANSWER: Not by evidence of the recent Ali
material we sold. I would say the problem comes that there are
no respectable modern day stars other than Holyfield for youngsters
to look up to.
QUESTION: Starting a year or so ago MastroNet
started having non-sports (Americana) memorabilia actions, covering
popular culture like movies, popular music, politics, toys, etc.
How have these auctions worked out? Was there any fear before
starting the first one?
ANSWER: The Americana division has surpassed
our expectations. The first sale was a success and the second
sale which will be held next month will surpass that in depth
as well as breadth of material. This year Americana will contribute
one third of our revenue. There was fear before the first one;
but we did cover all of our bases spending a lot on promoting
and sending out literally twice the number of catalogs which
QUESTION: Considering you have started
having the non-sport American auctions, will MastroNet ever go
into other areas, like fine art?
ANSWER: The idea is that our business model
could be used to sell any high value collectibles. Although fine
art is not out of the question it would be more likely that we
will take the broad based Americana auciton and break out a few
of the more material verticals (e.g. Political, Comic, Illustration
QUESTION: Are there moments, after a long
day at work, that you are completely sick of sports memorabilia?
ANSWER: Never. I have the dream job. You
do get ruined sometimes realizing you can't afford a lot of the
stuff; but never get sick of the material.
QUESTION: Is it common for game-used jerseys
to be washed? I understand the virtue of having a Yankee Stadium
home-plate dirt stain across the numbers, but assume there is
point where washing is a prudent act.
ANSWER: It is not a problem having them
washed. The key to ascertaining game use is wear not dirt.
QUESTION: What do you personally collect,
and what are some of your favorite items?
ANSWER: I have re-focused my collection
away from cards to memorabilia. I collect vintage Cubs memorabilia
(circa 1908). My favorite collectibles from this part of my collection
are a Frank Chance letter, a Johnny Evers passport and some game
shirts and pants from Steinfeldt and Pfeister. I also collect
whom I refer to as the big 6 Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Mathewson, Young
and Johnson. For these guys I am focusing and afordable display
items and one really nice Autograph. My favorite here is my Signed
T206 of Ty Cobb.
QUESTION: For your personal collection,
do you buy professionally graded cards?
ANSWER: I have always collected mid grade
cards so I do not buy them for my personal collection.
QUESTION: In your opinion, what is/are
some of the most unusual things MastroNet has auctioned? What
were some of your personal favorites?
ANSWER: Most unusual would have to be Marilyn
Monroe's stocking, Bill Veck's wooden leg, Micheal Jordan's Drivers
license and cast. My personal favorites center primarily on the
items I collect. Admittedly I would proud to be part of selling
the PSA8 Wagner. To me that will always be the holy grail of
QUESTION: Has the Septemeber 11th attacks
affected auction sales? If so, how?
ANSWER: It has had little to no effect
on the 4 auctions we have held since his event. December may
have been a bit week; but other than that the results have been
QUESTION: What do you think of eBay?
ANSWER: I think it is a good place if you
are a knowledgable buyer. For those who aren't I think it is
risky. I am an active eBayer and have built some great items
for my collection.
QUESTION: I know that you are a Chicago
Cubs fan. How do you think they are going to do this year?
ANSWER: I am guardedly optimistic. It would
be nice not to have to go back to 1908 in order to collect a
world series winning team!
QUESTION: What is your all-time favorite
movie and television show?
ANSWER: I have many favorite movies. I
will stick to the theme and say my favorite baseball movie is
Field of Dreams. My favorite tv show is "The Practice"