Heritage Auctions, Jim Halperin and Market Manipulation
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191 posts in this topic

On 8/24/2021 at 12:43 PM, Bronty said:

As I see it, when you are starting a grading co in what is at that time a small and poorly funded market, either:

1) you reach out to the community, get to know people, and end up with some perceived conflicts, or

2) you reach out to no one, stay in your bubble, have zero conflicts, and zero chance of success.

You can criticize various things about wata, I don't agree with some of the positions they've taken myself.    But one thing that's really above reproach is the incredible - just superlative - job Deniz did at reaching out not just to the game community but to the world at large to spread the message and get more people interested in collecting games.    They always had the mindset of growing the pie rather than trying to steal someone else's slice of the pie, and I think they did an admirable job of that.

IMO that's the single biggest piece of their success, and its been well earned.   Communicating what is to many people a new hobby and getting them excited about it to a point where they actually take the leap is not an easy thing to do.   Deniz is a terrific communicator and has been a great ambassador.    

You can argue about the look of the case, or the perceived conflict, or the turnaround times, or the definition of pedigree, or whatever floats your boat but credit where credit is due:   they did a phenomenal job in promoting the hobby.    THAT was their focus.   Not this other stuff.

I think I will wait for the illustrious N.P Gresham to chime in before I make my mind up one way or the other.

 

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On 8/24/2021 at 4:07 PM, Wolverinex said:

So the entire video is a conspiracy (which you haven't watched all the way through) but there are a lot of odd coincidences that the creator accurately points out especially with the coin bubble in the 80s. 

Also, you state you were involved with WATA in the past.  Seems a little hard to be independent in that situation?

Honestly I don't really buy WATA stuff so I don't really have much skin in this game but something smells off with all the companies discussed from an outsider's perspective.  

I'll just repeat what was said well before:

 On 8/24/2021 at 11:44 AM, mycomicshop said:

I haven't watched the whole video, but as of the 10 minute mark he's drawing incorrect conclusions about WATA and Heritage. There was nothing nefarious about WATA listing places like HA or Halperin as advisors, or about HA stating that they would be a marketplace for WATA games before WATA was running full steam.

Somebody who's doing a good job of getting a startup business going would be doing lots of outreach to their industry and establishing relationships with important partners. WATA did this. HA met with them, we met with them, plenty of others met/talked with them. The guys from WATA educated us about the state of video game grading and the graded video game market since it was such an unknown entity at the time to most people, and made the case for what was lacking with the incumbent grader VGA, and why WATA would be better. They made a good case and I had a lot of confidence in them to build a successful grading company, be better than VGA, and accomplish what they wanted to do. We haven't really pursued video games to this point (still too much we're focused on in comics), but we had the opportunity to be involved early in WATA's start similar to HA. Others did too, HA is just the biggest target and the ripest for conspiracy theories.

I can't speak to the rest of the video I haven't watched, but after the first 10 minutes this guy is way off base with his claims.

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Excellent video, and goes into some great details (so you know, don't just watch 10 minutes of it before forming an opinion ). This guy has been doing some great work researching and disseminating the workings of ongoing lawsuits in the video game sector, so to see something of his have overlap with comics was very interesting (The info about HA listing CGC books for data points was interesting and I believe it, I've personally seen big collectors list and buy their own books for larger amounts - happy to pay the sellers fee just to help pump up selling a different higher grade copy later. Those guys were jerks.) 

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On 8/24/2021 at 7:36 PM, Sauce Dog said:

Excellent video, and goes into some great details (so you know, don't just watch 10 minutes of it before forming an opinion ). This guy has been doing some great work researching and disseminating the workings of ongoing lawsuits in the video game sector, so to see something of his have overlap with comics was very interesting (The info about HA listing CGC books for data points was interesting and I believe it, I've personally seen big collectors list and buy their own books for larger amounts - happy to pay the sellers fee just to help pump up selling a different higher grade copy later. Those guys were jerks.) 

Doubtful any fees are paid by those who shill their own books and also pretty much own the auction house. 

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On 8/24/2021 at 7:45 PM, iggy said:

Doubtful any fees are paid by those who shill their own books and also pretty much own the auction house. 

Not saying that it doesn't happen.....but it was also just a third hand account with no proof. 

The owner allegedly told it to his dad......his dad (before he passed away) supposedly told it to him.......and he told it to us. 

Try pulling that in court and see how fast the judge gives you a wedgie.

 

Edited by Domo Arigato
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On 8/24/2021 at 3:44 PM, Bronty said:

Somebody who's doing a good job of getting a startup business going would be doing lots of outreach to their industry and establishing relationships with important partners. WATA did this. HA met with them, we met with them, plenty of others met/talked with them.

Exactly.  Just like CGC did. They met with collectors, dealers, auction houses, etc. before they even opened their doors.  

They formed relationships as well as partnerships in their early days and I'm sure they continue to do so. 

I guess nobody remembers "Wizard First" either....even though many people now have to gum their food after all of the teeth gnashing that went on.

 

Edited by Domo Arigato
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On 8/24/2021 at 9:23 PM, Domo Arigato said:

Exactly.  Just like CGC did. They met with collectors, dealers, auction houses, etc. before they even opened their doors.  

They formed relationships as well as partnerships in their early days and I'm sure they continue to do so. 

I guess nobody remembers "Wizard First" either....even though many people now have to gum their food after all of the teeth gnashing that went on.

 

I think this collaboration, prior to starting the venture, is fine in of itself and is something that makes sense for any company to do. It's only with the other details & connections that makes it seem extremely shady. Wizards first was also an awful idea then as it would be now, so CGC doesn't get a pass with that one :D 

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On 8/24/2021 at 8:30 PM, Sauce Dog said:

Wizards first was also an awful idea then as it would be now, so CGC doesn't get a pass with that one :D 

What about the secret pressing service for select clients so they can cash in on "upgraded" books?

The point being......there is no pure, altruistic, for-profit company out there.  It doesn't exist.  

People can gnash their teeth all they want......but for me (so far, at least)......these speculations and accusations are mildly interesting.  It's nothing that hasn't been happening in every other collectible market for decades.

When someone posts actual hard proof of illegal activity, then I'll worry about putting a mouth guard in.

 

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On 8/24/2021 at 8:40 PM, MatterEaterLad said:

Halperin's original coin grading company was shut down by the FTC and he paid more than a million to defrauded collectors. I'd say that's proof.

That's hard proof of illegal activity now?  And with WATA?

And is that why everybody in here boycotts Heritage auctions?

 

Edited by Domo Arigato
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On 8/24/2021 at 9:43 PM, Domo Arigato said:

 

And is that why everybody in here boycotts Heritage auctions?

 

I will now, just as easily as avoiding PWCC after their fraud and shill bidding, as it impacts my confidence in all their other offerings. No skin off my back to ignore something I learn isn't in line with my own moral standards. Easy peasy.

 

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On 8/24/2021 at 6:43 PM, MatterEaterLad said:

It's interesting how people bash PGX for staff and owners overgrading and selling their own books but turn a blind eye to WATA doing the exact same thing.

Don't get me wrong, PGX still sucks. Just making a point.

And if WATA were really ambassadors for their self-profiting bubble, I mean hobby, they wouldn't hide the population report.

I'm sure it'll show up eventually, after the directors of the company have sold their own games. 

For real. This kind of selective enforcement of standards is so weird.  I mean look at where we are. Jim Halperin works at CGC. CGC and WATA both having identical relationships to Heritage despite the new one not really having anything other than a board of directors with influence and "relationships". There is absolutely no reason to pretend CGC is behaving any different than WATA. So why aren't we talking about what's really going on? It seems like the entire top-end of EVERY market is just fake. A bunch of insiders transferring some product or service back and forth amongst each other in a way that increasing the value of their assets over time.

 

We want to pretend that this is an issue with a few bad apples but its actually the entire top of the industry. The idea that a 9.8 can be worth 1,000x as much as a 3.0 just doesn't make sense. It isn't actually 1,000x better to anyone, its JUST the speculators. While the frauds being committed are bad and do hurt people but if we actually talk about the issue properly and then adapt our buying habits then we're fine. Sorry CGC but your books are overvalued and your service is very expensive...so a smart collector would actually stop investing in CGC books.

 

 

They inflated value of high end books so the real value is in low grade keys. Which means if we do some digging, take some time and really collect. Get back to the fundamentals...we can still find fun books to buy and some good long term investments. That's only thing that pays off without a scam involved...

 

A lack of financial transparency is an absolute requirement for fraudsters to do this kind of thing. The fact that census results and GPA analysis aren't free and public means CGC is not a objective. We shouldn't have to find examples of their fraud, we should simply be able to point to an opaque system with hidden data and say "that's where the fraud's gotta be". CGC needs to open up or be prepared to get left behind. I'm not going to create data that help someone turn my hobby into a pump and dump.

Edited by Sam T
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On 8/24/2021 at 8:47 PM, Sauce Dog said:

I will now, just as easily as avoiding PWCC after their fraud and shill bidding, as it impacts my confidence in all their other offerings. No skin off my back to ignore something I learn isn't in line with my own moral standards. Easy peasy.

You're pretty much going to have to boycott every auction house on the planet then.......as even auction houses like Christie's admit to bidding on their own auction items.

A quote from Toby Usnik (head of communications for Christie's)

"Christie’s wouldn’t bid as often as Heritage does — Rohan claims it bids on “a lot of things” — and wouldn’t use a pseudonym because “that would be illegal,” according to the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, says Usnik. “You would be bidding up the price of something artificially, and others in the auction room who are competing for it would not know that it’s you who is bidding or that you have a special interest in it."

And anyone remember Mastro Auctions?

Former Owner Of Mastro Auctions Sentenced To 20 Months In Federal Prison In Shill-Bidding Scam

 

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On 8/24/2021 at 7:43 PM, Domo Arigato said:

That's hard proof of illegal activity now?  And with WATA?

And is that why everybody in here boycotts Heritage auctions?

There was clear proof of internal shill bidding at Heritage. Halperin lied about it and then had to dance when other depositions revealed the truth. Because of that I'm always leery of Heritage and their record-breaking sales in the games/comics/coin categories. I guess you're more trusting than I am.

 

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On 8/24/2021 at 5:43 PM, MatterEaterLad said:

It's interesting how people bash PGX for staff and owners overgrading and selling their own books but turn a blind eye to WATA doing the exact same thing.

We know that WATA is overgrading and selling their own games???

 

On 8/24/2021 at 5:43 PM, MatterEaterLad said:

And if WATA were really ambassadors for their self-profiting bubble, I mean hobby, they wouldn't hide the population report.

I'm sure it'll show up eventually, after the directors of the company have sold their own games. 

VGA has been around 10 years longer that WATA has and they don't have a population report.

 

Edited by Domo Arigato
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