Sunday, September 4, 2011

Steve Geppi, Diamond, and Bad Art Deals

As a collector of things like comics and original comics art, I try to stay in tune with what's happening on that side of the industry, even if a lot of the news doesn't have even the slightest effect on me or my personal collecting habits.

Like, say, when a milestone issue of a comic book sells for over a million dollars. Or when a previously hidden original art page emerges from a personal collection, hits the market, and breaks all kinds of price records.

Still, those things are fun to read about and I find them thoroughly entertaining.

On that note, enter Steve Geppi, one of the most powerful people in all of comics. As owner of Diamond, Mr. Geppi is clearly a major player in the world of comics, as that particular distributor is the distributor to comics shops and bookstores.

Love it or hate it, Diamond--to a certain extent--controls what gets out there to consumers.

As owner of the (excellent) Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, Mr. Geppi has probably the most famous pop culture collection in America.

Like I said, very prominent, and very out there to the public.

So when something like this happens, well, it's pretty big news in the comics collecting world.

Geppi is in some trouble for backing out on a deal to purchase a whole lot of Archie Comics art drawn by Bob Montana--an artist known for not selling his work. Geppi seems to have gone about the acquisition the right way, using a third party expert to determine values on each and every page in a massive collection of original art.

However, when it came time for Geppi's company to sell the pages, they found out that the valuations were way, way off from what collectors were willing to pay. In some instances, by thousands of dollars.

When you've purchased over a millions bucks worth of art, that kind of return is killer.

What I don't get about the whole thing, though, is the third party expert's prices. If you know anything about original art, you know that you just simply cannot put a price on a page. Simply, pages are worth what someone is willing to pay, and more often than not prices are negotiable, even though the biggest art dealers.

And then there's the other factor in all this. Bob Montana art used to command some high prices. Why? Because his estate kept almost every page he ever worked on, thus making the few pages available for sale highly desirable amongst collectors.

Supply and demand, you see.

Anyway, once it became glaringly obvious that this was a Bad Deal, things went south quickly. You can read all about it on the Oh Danny Boy blog--here, here, and here.

Aside from the art sale itself, the most interesting--and the most disconcerting--part of the story is Geppi's alleged worth decrease. The man who is responsible for getting us our comics every week has been taking a financial beating over the past couple of years.

Check out the excellent reporting on Oh Danny Boy's blog, and feel free to chime in down below in the comments section here.

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