As a follow-up to much of the discussion and debate in the hobby/industry relating to the announcement on Sunday that Rob Lifson at Robert Edwards Auctions is the only auction house MEARS will work with, I thought I would share a few personal thoughts and information. With respect to concerns about what I will see during my compliance visits and audits, I have asked Rob Lifson to craft this language or similar language into the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)that I have asked to sign.
“I understand that as a condition of being provided information necessary to conduct a compliance inspection, I agree not to disclosure Proprietary Information. By way of illustration, but not limitation, “Proprietary Information” includes bidder and consigner personal/administrative information and bidder and consigner account history and bidding activity. With respect to Robert Edwards Auction House, “Proprietary Information” by way of illustration, but not limitation, includes internal operating procedures, marketing plans and programs, unpublished financial statements, prices, costs, suppliers and customers. As an additional proviso, Mr.Troy Kinunen and Mr. David Bushing will be treated as Third Parties not privy to the information disclosed to me as the Policy Director of Memorabilia Evaluation and Research Services (MEARS) since the disclosure would not be consistent with their roles within MEARS and as dealers within the field of memorabilia. An exception to this non-disclosure agreement exists in the case of if either illegal activity or violations of the policy are identified.”
People seem very concerned that Dave and Troy are looking for leads for buying and selling. This will not happen with the information used in the audits. The other thing I will share with people has to do with the sales of items listed on the site under Bushing and Kinunen MEARS For Sale. An increasing number of items sold are being purchased by collectors who found the item by searching for them or a related topic on Google or other search engine. They hit upon our site because of the size and nature of the inventory as well as size and nature of our editorial content.
The other thing I think it worth reminding people about is that Dave Bushing has been courted by auction houses for years because of the contacts and personal relationships he has established potential buyers and consigners. Yes, Dave was loved by many auction houses when he was bringing them consigners, educating their bidders and taking his own consignments to them, something that occurred for well over a decade. They enjoyed the days of being able to walk up to Dave at show and get a free opinion on a walk in flannel or Hall of Famer game used bat. They loved the days of paying Dave and his organization $12.00 for an opinion on a high profile jersey that put $90,000.00 in their pocket (I am not talking about price realized, but the total of consignment and hammer fees on a single item).
Somehow now with MEARS, Dave Bushing is now being portrayed as a person whose opinion is no longer reliable or valuable? The fact of the matter is that Dave Bushing is not MEARS and that his work is actually better because of the MEARS system. Dave will be the first to admit that the use of data bases, work sheets, and reference information has improved the quality and consistency of his work. The policies he follows with respect to disclosure and accountability have also set him apart as a dealer/broker. What does this mean? It means that many new buyers are finding Dave and are likely to continue to do so because of the public availability of the inventory and information on the MEARS web site.
I will be very candid, I feel that much of the pushback on the recent auction house policy comes from two things that have nothing to do with the quality of an opinion. It has to do with the cost of the services and the compliance audits. Yet somehow, the same guy they looked to for years as their “bell cow” and “meal ticket” is now less credible when he is now working under a system that has improved his work and public perception. Some friends….
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