The auction of Lionel Carter’s stunning baseball card collection generated national headlines and made him an instant millionaire, but he’d gladly take them back. Carter spoke with National Public Radio and said he was “depressed” over the reason he had to let them go.
Someone, somehow ruined the thing Lionel Carter loved more than anything except his family.
For decades, Carter’s baseball card collection was just a hobby. He’d been around long before any of the hobby’s ‘big names’ of today, compiling checklists, trading with other hobby pioneers and spending his Sunday night’s putting new acquisitions into his storage albums.
Even when the value of his cards increased to what he may have known were staggering numbers, he kept them at home to enjoy. He had friends in the hobby but lived a quiet life in Evanston, a Chicago suburb. At some point, though, word got out to some thugs that an old man had some expensive stuff in his house. That sad fact forced Carter to sell his collection for his own safety but at age 89, he has no need for riches.
The first of what is expected to be three parts of the Carter collection was sold late last week by Mastro Auctions for approximately $1.6 million. “The results of the first installment of Lionel’s collection exceeded even our lofty expectations,” said Mastro Auctions President Doug Allen. “It has everything to do with the unequaled condition of the cards, particularly in the area of color and tone and the fact that they originate from one of the hobby’s original statesmen.”
Carter talked with NPR’s Robert Siegel about the difficult decision to sell.