Hobby Musings: Grey Flannel Bringing Special Gretzky, Maravich Memorabilia to Auction – Wayne Gretzky and Pete Maravich are considered among the greatest athletes of all time. The memorabilia demand and value for the pair has typically been commensurate with their level of prestige. Grey Flannel Auctions is about to show once again just how much collectors love their unique memorabilia with a special Gretzky jersey and a historic Maravich trophy. To find out more about what makes the items so special, I had the chance to catch up with Grey Flannel Director of Operations, Michael Russek.
KS: Michael, this is truly an incredible piece of sports memorabilia and history. How did you get it in for consignment?
MR: We’ve known about the existence of this jersey since it was first displayed and featured in Madison Square Garden’s “Defining Moments” Museum on the concourse level in 2013. In 2019, it was removed at the request of the owner who had it on loan to the Rangers. We were in discussion with the consignor and had many market brainstorming sessions just waiting for the right time to make the offering public. Last year, when Grey Flannel Auctions sold Gretzky’s 1988 Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup-clinching jersey for a record price of $1,452,000, the highest price ever paid for a hockey jersey, we knew the market was ready!
KS: Provenance and authenticity are always key with memorabilia, especially pieces like this. What have you done to ensure its authenticity?
MR: A true photo-match is the best form of verification that exists in today’s marketplace. The theory being that no two game-worn items are alike — each having their own unique characteristics ranging from stains, hit marks, paint transfers, repairs and fabric orientation. The combination of these details creates an identity that can be matched to specific game-day photography. This jersey has been photo-matched to Gretzky’s final career assist on a beautiful set-up pass that led to a fellow Hall of Famer Brian Leetch’s goal at 19:30 of the second period. It is accompanied by a MeiGray Photo-Match LOA, a Full JSA LOA for the autograph and comes with a letter from John Rosasco, the Rangers’ long-time Senior Vice President of Public Relations attesting to its authenticity on NY Rangers letterhead.
KS: Gretzky is widely considered the greatest hockey player in history. Where would you rank this among his game-used items?
MR: This wonderful hobby of ours has always been enamored with career bookends. Wayne Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time, and the final game of his illustrious NHL career (No. 1,487) was a historic moment in the sport’s history. Gretzky was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which had waived the normal three-year mandatory waiting period by special exemption. The NHL also retired his jersey number (99) league-wide, making him the only player in the league’s history to receive this distinction. No other player in NHL history has amassed 2,000 career points, and this is a record that is likely to stand the test of time. This particular jersey has a chance to set yet another world record for Gretzky memorabilia. We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to offer this incredible piece of sports history to our customers.
KS: Gretzky played for a couple of teams during his career, with the Rangers being his final NHL team. How do his Rangers items compare with memorabilia from his other teams?
MR: Because this is from his final game and photo-matched to his record-breaking and career-setting total points milestone, there is a premium placed on this above all other jerseys from his playing career.
KS: You deal in sports memorabilia from all across the spectrum. How does high-end hockey memorabilia tend to compare in auctions with high-end items from other sports?
MR: From our experience, hockey collectors tend to run at the top of the list when it comes to passion and enthusiasm for game-worn gear. They are in a field all by themselves, and the prices they are willing to pay to acquire such items is reflected in that.
KS: Now here’s the big question. If you had to guess, what do you think the Gretzky jersey will end up going for?
MR: While Grey Flannel does not publish presale estimates, I have no doubt that this jersey is poised to set a record! When the dust settles, this will end up being one of the most expensive hockey jerseys to ever hit the market.
KS: Besides the Gretzky jersey, you also have Pete Maravich’s College Player of the Year Trophy up for auction. What makes it so unique?
MR: That’s correct; also featured in this sale are items consigned directly from the family of “Pistol Pete” Maravich. The Basketball Hall of Famer recorded a remarkable collegiate season for the LSU Tigers in 1970. Already well-known for his incredible scoring ability, Maravich took his game to even greater heights during the 1969-1970 season. He led the NCAA in scoring that year with an incredible 44.5 points per game, which still stands as the highest single-season scoring average in Division I men’s basketball history. His incredible 1970 season established him as one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.
KS: Pistol Pete hasn’t played in several decades, but he still seems to hold a special place among memorabilia collectors. Why do you think his popularity has remained intact, and where do you think his items rank among other NBA legends?
MR: Pete Maravich game-worn memorabilia is easily in the Mount Rushmore of any historically advanced basketball collection. This was an era of collecting when items were not worn in abundance, and game-used jerseys were commonly discarded or repurposed after use. His items are more than hard to find. They are almost non-existent, especially when considering provenance and history as a deciding factor in authenticity.
KS: Same question as with the Gretzky jersey. What do you think the trophy will ultimately go for?
MR: As I mentioned, we do not publish presale estimates. That said, we are thrilled to offer Pete Maravich’s College Player of the Year Trophy in this auction. This award is a rare and highly sought-after piece of basketball history that represents a pivotal moment in Maravich’s career. As one of the most talented and influential players of his time, Maravich’s impact on the game cannot be overstated. This award is a testament to his incredible skill and talent, and its historical significance makes it a truly remarkable find. We are excited to share this relic with collectors and fans worldwide, and look forward to seeing the excitement it generates at auction.
Hobby Musings: Grey Flannel Bringing Special Gretzky, Maravich Memorabilia to Auction – Resources