Universal Coin & Bullion, Ltd. February / March 2008 Supplement
INVESTORS PROFIT ADVISORY
SPOTLIGHTING OUR NEWEST COLLECTING OPPORTUNITIES
and Their Private Collections
We live in a time where there is a widespread you share a common interest. It probably comes as no
fascination with fame and celebrity. To some, this surprise to anyone to know that Dick Clark, the “world’s
enchantment with the personal lives of famous people oldest teenager,” has a vast collection of music
borders on the obsessive. In the tabloid media, we are daily memorabilia, a large portion of which serves as
treated to a litany of personal celebrity details that, more decorations for his American Bandstand Grille restaurant
often than not, are scandalous in nature. Other times, when chain. Clark’s restaurants aren’t the only chain to use
celebrities are doing promotional tours for their latest entertainment memorabilia collections as a lure to entice
project, we usually get the canned publicity presentations customers. Worldwide chains like Hard Rock Café and
intended to sell the product. Every once in a while, we catch Planet Hollywood are some of the biggest collectors of all,
a personal glimpse of a celebrity that allows us to see them as they constantly search for items to adorn their theme
simply as regular people, with human interests to which restaurants. These kinds of businesses, which serve as
anyone of us can relate. specialized museums, give the larger public opportunities
to see a wide range of collectible items they might
One of the ways we can share common ground with the otherwise never get to experience.
celebrities we enjoy is through the hobby of collecting.
Nowadays, virtually anything is of collectible interest to Still, despite the public nature of these shared
someone. Of course there are the obvious items likes sports collections, collecting is still largely a very private and
or entertainment memorabilia, antique books, cars, art or personal pursuit, which speaks volumes about individuals,
coins. But, these are merely the tip of the proverbial oftentimes in very unexpected ways. For example, did you
iceberg. In the past decade or so, know that award-winning actor
collecting in general has exploded. Nicholas Cage has been an avid
Today, collecting Beanie Babies or Hot collector of comic books since he was a
Wheels cars is considered as serious a kid? He even took his stage name from
pursuit as collecting Picasso or Tiffany. Hero For Hire comic book character,
All of these and more have found their Luke Cage. A short while ago, Cage
way into the private collections of parted with some of his favorite comic
many of today’s top celebrities. book collectibles at auction selling 141
lots for a total of $1.68 million. In
addition to his vast comic book
Taking Their Collections Public collection, Cage is also an avid
Collections Public collector of European sports cars.
It is endlessly intriguing to Speaking of cars (and
discover what types of things different motorcycles), Tonight Show host Jay
people collect. It is even more Leno has one of the most extensive
fascinating to find out what celebrities Academy Award winning actor, Nicolas Cage private car collections going and is
has been a long-time collector of rare and
collect, especially if you find out that widely known as an authority on the
vintage comic books and European sports cars.
Hulk TV star Lou Ferrigno shares a
collecting interest with Patty Duke?
Would you believe Beanie Babies?
Strange, but true. Even stranger,
swashbuckling movie star Johnny
Depp collects rare insects and
“Dollywood” entrepreneur Dolly
Parton collects rare butterflies.
Insects and butterflies? Some Singer-Actress, Dolly Parton
Collectors consider the E-Type Jaguar XKE a work of art as it combined collects rare butterflies.
people will collect anything.
elegance and vintage racing technologies in a sophisticated design.
Several years ago, when Angelina Jolie was having
subject of cars. His collection includes, among many public relations issues in the wake of her divorce from Billy
others, a Lamborghini Miura, a Jaguar XKE, a Shelby Bob Thornton, it became public knowledge that she had an
Mustang GT 350, Bugattis and Dusenbergs. In a Robb extensive collection of antique knives. The initial media
Report article Leno stated, “Car collecting is something I spin fed the growing perception that Jolie was weird
enjoy doing.” With over 100 cars and counting in his beyond belief. After all, she was the same woman who wore
collection, which is housed in a converted airplane hangar, a vial of Billy Bob’s blood around her neck. The collection
it seems Jay may be understating his passion just a touch. of antique knives fueled the fires of her weirdness.
and Some Collection Surprises
and Some CollectionSurprises
Some celebrities themselves have even become quite
collectible with entire industries growing up around the
perpetuation of their legend. For example, is there any
celebrity more popular and collectible today than Elvis
Presley? More than thirty years after his death, his estate still
generates more dollars year after year than when he was alive
from a vast array of items bearing his likeness. And how about
Marilyn Monroe? One would be hard-pressed to identify a
more iconic image than Marilyn and the world is still
enamored with her more
than forty years after her
untimely passing. Jimi
Hendrix, John Lennon,
Bob Marley, James Dean, Academy Award winner, Angelina Jolie
former President John F. has been collecting antique knives since
Kennedy and even Albert she was a teenager.
Einstein; all of these and
more, whose lives and However, after Angelina began an earnest public relations
images continue to campaign to repair her damaged reputation, she revealed to
fascinate collectors all Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20 that her fascination with
over the world many years knives began as a young girl after attending a Renaissance
after their lives ended. It fair. Seems her interest in knives was symbolic of her deeper
continues to surprise us interest in the history of older cultures. In the Walters
The Elvis Presley estate continues to how deep and wide is the interview, she stressed that her collection was kept under
earn millions each year from passion for collecting.
collectible items bearing his image.
lock and key so that her young son could not get to them. So,
maybe she’s not so crazy after all. But, we wonder if Brad
It is not a big stretch of knows where she keeps the key.
the imagination to know that rock guitar god Eric Clapton
is a big collector of, well, guitars. Or, that famed movie
critic Leonard Maltin has an extensive collection of movie
memorabilia. But would you have guessed that Incredible
CELEBRITIES WHO COLLECT Going all the way back to the first half of the 20th
C INS century, famed American composer Jerome Kern built one
of the finest private coin collections of that time. Kern, who
In this day and age of reality TV shows, if Dancing penned hundreds of hit songs including such standards as
With the Stars can be a big hit, why not Coin Collecting “Ol’ Man River” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” among
With the Stars? We wonder if we can get a meeting with a others, also had a keen eye for “hit” coins. Among the many
TV executive to pitch the idea. Perhaps not. But, it is a fact treasures in his collection were an ultra-high-relief 1907
that many famous people have gone public with their Saint Gaudens Double Eagle and a gem proof 1842 small-
fascination and love for collecting coins. The list includes date Liberty Seated quarter. Five years after his death,
actors, actresses, singers, athletes and many other famous Texas coin dealer B. Max Mehl sold Kern’s
celebrities who at one time or another were household collection at a glittering auction in 1950.
names across America and even around the world.
The list of celebrity coin collectors is long and varied.
Take Buddy Ebsen, for example. Best remembered Many became so enamored of the hobby’s excitement,
today as Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies, Ebsen they persevered to become confirmed numismatists. From
had a long and successful career on stage and the entertainment world alone, the list includes
screen. He famously lost the role of the Tin many famous figures past and present,
Man in The Wizard of Oz because of an including the legendary Italian tenor Enrico
illness he developed caused by a reaction to Caruso, “Stardust” songwriter Hoagy
aluminum dust in his makeup. Still, Carmichael, academy award-winning
Buddy Ebsen went on to great success as actress Nicole Kidman, emmy-winning
one of America’s best loved actors, and actor John Larroquette, actress-director
subsequently became an avid and Penny Marshall and famed talk-show
especially knowledgeable coin collector. host Bruce Williams.
Ebsen was fond of United States gold
coins in particular and accumulated a Williams hosts a widely syndicated
complete gold type set, a set of the radio talk show covering financial
Panama-Pacific commemorative coins in lifestyle issues. His radio program is so
Famed actor, Buddy Ebsen avidly collected
their original copper frame and a gem coins including the historic Panama-Pacific
popular, he is second only to Rush
proof 1879 coiled hair Stella, among Exposition gold commemoratives, like the Limbaugh in terms of audience. In 2002,
other notable coins. In 1987, Ebsen sold one pictured above. Talkers magazine selected him as the #6
his collection at a major public auction Greatest Radio and Talk Show Host of
and then, perhaps to show he wasn’t abandoning the hobby, All-Time. In his private life, he is an eclectic collector of all
he co-founded the Beverly Hills Coin Club with a younger sorts of things, including rare coins and Disney
actor, Chris Aable. memorabilia. Bruce has commented that he collects what he
likes without regard to cost. For
Sports fans from all around the world example, he has a little bird for which he
remember the venerable personality of paid a total of eight cents and individual
sportscaster Chris Schenkel. For several coins he has purchased for over $30,000.
decades, Schenkel covered a wide range He prizes each of them equally and
of sporting events, from Olympic Games claims he is not likely to part with any of
to professional bowling, during a the things he has collected.
distinguished career that literally took
him around the world as the voice of From the world of sports, famous
ABC-TV’s Wide World of Sports. Off coin collectors include ice hockey legend
camera, Schenkel spent much of his Wayne Gretzky, baseball slugger Andre
private time pursuing a personal passion - Dawson and fierce basketball rebounder
collecting coins. Over the course of his Dennis Rodman. Once known as the
life, he assembled an impressive “hobby of kings,” coin collecting has had
collection, including an exceptional set of its share of enthusiasts among the ranks of
early U.S. quarters. In fact, his world leaders. In times past, France’s “Sun
collection was so vast that it included King,” Louis XIV, found such pleasure in
enough desirable coinage to help fill a the French Royal Coin Collection that he
Ice hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky is one
436-page catalog of 3,404 lots when it visited it daily and confided that he could
of many sports stars and celebrities who
went on the auction block in 1990. collect coins. “always find something new to learn.”
Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III was more Some Celebrities Will Collect
than just a collector; he was a true
numismatic scholar who considered coins
the great passion of his life. Upon his
abdication in 1946, he donated his Just about anything is collectible these days. All that
collection – more than 100,000 coins from is required is for someone to have an interest in
ancient times to modern – to the people of accumulating certain items and someone else who has
Italy. He also left a magnificent gift to future those same items. Everything from stamps and fine art to
generations of collectors: a 20-volume beer cans and Coca-Cola memorabilia is suitable for
catalog of Italian coinage through the collecting. There is no telling what someone may find of
centuries, which took him 12 years to write. interest. Some times the items are intrinsically valuable,
Egypt’s King Farouk was more of a some times they are merely sentimental to the collector.
voracious accumulator than a serious No matter, to collectors the items they collect are valuable
collector, but some of his coin acquisitions period. In her book, What Celebrities Collect, author
were spectacular – including a 1933 Saint- Michelle Karl chronicles the collecting habits of famous
Gaudens double eagle which currently celebrities. Here is a sampling of some of their collections.
ranks as the highest-priced coin ever sold. It
brought $7.59 million at a New York City auction in 2002. Dan Aykroyd Police Badges
Other world leaders known for their coin collecting interest George Clooney Motorcycles
have included U.S. presidents John Quincy Adams and Harry Connick Jr. Cuff Links
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was also widely known as a Billy Crystal Sports Memorabilia
stamp collector; Israeli military leader and foreign minister Jamie Lee Curtis Photographs
Moshe Dayan; and former British prime minister Tony Blair.
Jim Davis Garfield Memorabilia & Wine
Johnny Depp Insects and Rare Books
While it may have formerly been known as the “hobby
Elvira Gothic Items
of kings,” today it has become the “king of hobbies”.
Whereas in earlier times it was pursued primarily by Malcolm Forbes Toy Soldiers / Faberge Eggs
noblemen with ample resources, in present days, coin Whoopi Goldberg Bakelite Jewelry
collecting enjoys a wide following of enthusiastic collectors Steve Guttenberg Saltwater Fish
at all levels of society. In fact, due to a groundswell of new Scott Hamilton Pinball Machines
collectors in the past ten years, the U.S. Mint recently Robin Leach Marine Paperweights
estimated the number of coin collectors in America alone Barbara Mandrell Autographed Books
to now be upwards of 140 million. Still, notwithstanding Demi Moore Dolls & Vintage Clothing
the more democratic incarnation of contemporary coin Rosie O’Donnell McDonald’s Toys
collecting, it is reassuring and more than a little fascinating Quentin Tarantino Board Games
to see that this endlessly engrossing hobby still holds great Alan Thicke Hockey Memorabilia
appeal for the rich and famous. John Travolta Aviation Memorabilia
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