Universal Rarities has found itself in the national headlines several times in three years, but now the company’s partners have gone their separate ways.
The partnership that formed California-based Universal Rarities has been dissolved. In turn, business operations will now continue on as Iconic Memorabilia and Iconic Memorabilia Auctions. Jeff Woolf will assume the role of Principal Managing Officer of the new entity.
Woolf had partnered with Tom Riccio to form Universal in early 2005. The company sold a variety of sports and entertainment pieces, some traditional and others which grabbed sensational headlines.
Universal sold Babe Ruth’s 517th home run baseball ($29,695) and Lou Gehrig’s 1935 Yankee players contract ($70,000) but also garnered international attention with the high profile and controversial sale of Anna Nicole Smith’s personal diaries ($512,500). In the wake of the 2006 discovery of Pete Rose baseballs bearing an "I’m Sorry I Bet on Baseball" inscription, Universal convinced the always game Rose to add another "confession" last January.
Riccio became a central figure in the recent O.J. Simpson memorabilia case, setting up the meeting between Simpson and two dealers which eventually led to charges of kidnapping and armed robbery.
“My partner and I had a meeting at the beginning of the year and we felt that our business paths were pointing in separate directions," Woolf stated in a news release. "It’s an amicable decision. We’ve had great success as Universal Rarities, and I wish Tom the best of luck in the future.”
Woolf began contributing to the collecting hobby at age 13, writing a monthly column for Autograph Collector magazine during the 1990s. In 2001, he assumed the role of Auction Director for Odyssey, resurrecting the company’s auction division. Woolf has also served as a consultant, appraiser and authenticator for an assortment of companies and collectors across the country.
Woolf is attempting to acquire memorabilia from sports and entertainment to offer in the initial auction under the Iconic Memorabilia brand which will be held May 16th.
“The auction business is my passion and I’m very excited at the idea of taking over the full reigns. I look forward to providing our clientele–bidders and consignors alike—service that is second to none. With an established clientele and solid track record, I see a lot of great things in store for the future.”