The person who shelled out more than a half-million dollars for the ball used for Tom Brady’s presumed final NFL touchdown pass can only hope for a sports memorabilia mercy rule.
Experts say he or she might get one.
A spokesperson for Lelands, which bills itself as “the first sports memorabilia and card auction house in the world,” confirmed over the weekend that the authenticated ball Brady threw to Mike Evans in the fourth quarter of the Jan. 23 NFC title game had sold for $518,628. The month-long winter online auction that included the ball formally closed Saturday night.
Less than 24 hours later, Brady announced he was returning for a 23rd season. Though the identities of the buyer and seller remain anonymous, the dilemma has stoked natural curiosity over whether the auction house will let the buyer off the hook.
Experts in the auction and sports memorabilia industries believe it will. Lelands spokesman Adam Miller said the company has no comment at this time.
“These auction houses, their reputation is very important to them,” said John Osterweil, whose south Tampa-based business provides sports and celebrity memorabilia to silent/live auctions at charity events around the nation.
“Although Lelands sold it in good faith, since (Brady’s return) happened within 10 seconds basically after they sold it, I would think that Lelands — for their reputation — would not want to take the person’s money.”
Action Network, a sports-wagering website, cited a “a well-known auctioneer” who predicted Lelands will void the sale and noted it was highly unlikely the item was paid for. Auction houses typically invoice weekend closings on Monday, and banks aren’t open for wires.
“This is just an assumption on my part,” Osterweil said, “but if (the auction) closed on Saturday night ... I would doubt if the guy has already paid for it.”
The Lelands website indicates winning bidders must pay a 20 percent buyer’s premium and are responsible for all shipping and handling costs, which includes shipping, packing, labor, materials and insurance.
If payment is not received within 30 days after the date of the invoice, Lelands reserves the right, without further notice to the buyer, to (a) charge to the buyer’s credit card any balance remaining on the buyer’s invoice; and/or (b) resell any or all the items won by the buyer.
A service charge of 1.5 percent per month is applied to any outstanding balance after 30 days, the website says.
“What’s important? The reputation of Lelands or $500,000?” Osterweil said. “Lelands doesn’t need $500,000. So I would think they would not want to sully their reputation by forcing the guy to purchase the item.”
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Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.