As we reported Sunday, Josh Evans, founder of Lelands, passed away over the weekend. The auction company has been a major player in the hobby for more than 30 years and will continue with Evans’ long-time business partner and friend Mike Heffner, leading the team. Lelands referred to Evans’ impact as “a storied history in the hobby, a larger than life character, and an enduring legacy.”
Evans grew up in a family of antique dealers and branched out on his own to focus on sports collectibles, conducting high-profile auctions in association with former players and organizations while hustling to acquire notable historic consignments in the more than 30 years that have followed.
“When he founded Lelands after graduating from college in the mid-1980s, Josh did not know that trading cards and sports collectibles would someday develop into a multi-billion-dollar industry,” the company stated Wednesday. “But he did know there were countless fans who shared his passion and that a marketplace to buy and sell the stuff would afford him the opportunity to make a living while enjoying his daily work.
“Those of us fortunate enough to have worked and collected alongside Josh have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Joshua Evans leaves behind a company that is built to last, and Lelands is and will continue to be an enduring legacy to his long and storied history in the hobby. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work that was his life passion.”
“I walked around shows with him and he would stop at a table and spend an hour there going through every item on the dealer’s table looking for the diamond in the rough,” recalled Keith Vari of Paragon Auctions, who worked for Evans at Lelands for ten years. “To be honest he did find more than his share of diamonds.”
“It is difficult to overstate the influence Josh had on the sports collectibles hobby,” Heritage Auctions, one of Lelands’ many competitors stated in a social media post. “Arguably there has been no figure more instrumental in its early growth from a cottage industry to a global leviathan.”
Lelands says a memorial service for Evans will be scheduled in the future to allow for a safe gathering.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Kidney Transplant fund at St. Barnabas Medical Center in West Orange, NJ.
More information on how to do that can be found on the company’s website.