Last Updated On: September 25th, 2023
Move aside Antiques Roadshow, there’s a new memorabilia-centric series. The new Netflix reality series King of Collectibles, featuring consignment magnate Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions, combines the historic acumen of Pawn Stars and the glitz and glamor of Selling Sunset.
And after watching all six episodes currently streaming, there’s plenty to unpack. The show deals in a wide swath of memorabilia, ranging from Presidential hair to priceless patch trading cards.
In this review, we’ll cover each episode in depth, focusing on the marquee items that pass through Goldin’s doors during the season. In addition, we’ll discuss some of the key moments and lessons from each episode and how they translate to all collectors, even those without Ken Goldin’s extremely deep pockets.
Before getting any further, be warned: SPOILERS ABOUND. We’re going deep on the series in this review, so go ahead and open a new tab and cue up the shmantow if you haven’t seen it yet and want to without any insights.
Don’t worry, we’ll still be here for a complete breakdown afterwards!
Table of Contents
Setting the Stage: Season 1 on Netflix
First thing’s first: who the heck is Ken Goldin? He’s a man with the brain of a savant, the nose of a hound dog, and self-professed competitiveness of Kobe Bryant crossed with Michael Jordan. And all three are laser focused on one thing: memorabilia. His Darwinian outlook on the collectibles trade permeates through every second of every episode; everything that ain’t a win is a loss and every loss is an immediate advantage to Goldin’s rivals.
Hyperbole aside, Goldin is a memorabilia aficionado. He’s been collecting in one way or another since his childhood and parlayed his interest in the hobby into a business with his father in the 1980s. Score Board, the company Goldin founded with his dad, sought exclusive autograph contracts with star athletes like Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio and then sold those autographs for a premium.
Several decades later, Goldin founded Goldin Auctions, which is more or less the Mercedes-Benz of auction houses. By selling on Goldin’s platform, sellers agree to pay a commission fee, which varies according to the sale price and item sold, but rest assured it’s much higher than some other names in the market.
There’s a little something for most buyers, but the show really sells its luxury bona fides. For instance, three of the 10 largest sports card sales of all time have come via Goldin Auctions. And while sports memorabilia is one of the hallmarks of Goldin Auctions, the company is constantly looking for openings in various culture markets, including music, entertainment, and tech (covered below).
In its first year, 2012, Goldin Auctions accounted for $800,000 worth of business. Less than a decade later, with the sports card boom in full swing, the company finished with $100 million in sales in 2020. Recently, Goldin sold the auction house to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, though Goldin still maintains his role at the top of the company.
King of Collectibles is technically a reality show, and it comes rife with tense confrontations (although the alcohol is few and far between as opposed to more familiar reality programs).
The show itself is primarily focused around the company’s New Jersey headquarters. Each episode focuses on a few different items (which we’ll cover in detail below), and provides some great background information on the items as they’re investigated.
But, as Goldin explains later on in the season, being in this business means going to people and places at the drop of a hat. To that end, the show takes viewers across the country (and even Puerto Rico) as Goldin and his team look to add high-powered clientele and collectibles under Goldin’s roof.
It’s a strong reminder that, even when you’ve reached Goldin’s premier status, there is still significant legwork involved in securing a prized item for auction.
King of Collectibles Full Cast
And Ken doesn’t do that legwork on his own. The series features a recurring cast of Goldin employees and contractors.
- Ken Goldin: Founder & CEO
- Laura Goldin: Ken’s college-aged daughter and, in Ken’s mind, heir to the Goldin throne
- Dave Amerman: Ken’s lieutenant; Director of Auctions
- Alex Giaimo: the “Content Queen”; the show’s de facto host and narrator
- Myesha Buchanan: Junior Consignment Director; helps facilitate auctions
- Carlo Civitella: Junior Consignment Director; helps facilitate auctions
- Ryan Krupa: Junior Consignment Director; helps facilitate auctions
- The Robbies: fahther-son duo; “bird-dogs”; they scout out items that could appear in a Goldin Auction
- Alex Fung: a part-time scout and “Nerd Culture” expert
The show also features plenty of star-studded cameos, including Peyton Manning (a Goldin investor, and Executive Producer to the show), Logan Paul, Drake, Ric Flair, and Karl Malone. In addition, numerous collectors appear on King of Collectibles, ranging from “Barry” with 4,000,000+ baseball cards in his Jersey attic to Jim Taubenfeld, who owns perhaps the world’s most expensive sports memorabilia collection.
Will There be a King of Collectibles Season 2?
Yes! With Season 1 topping an impressive 90% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes, it didn’t take long for Netflix to renew King of Collectibles for a second season. So stay tuned as the hunt for more collectible moments of history continues next year.
Reviewing all six Episodes at Length
Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for! Here’s a complete play-by-play for each episode of King of Collectibles, including items auctioned, their value, and more:
Episode 1: Hail to the King
Length of episode: 35 minutes
“Everything is a collectible.”
We meet Ken Goldin, a guy who looks a bit like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and is apt to say things like “Nothing makes me happier than telling normal folks that what they have in their hands is going to change their life forever” amidst an opening montage that includes scenes involving Mike Tyson, Peyton Manning, Drake, Logan Paul, and private jets. This is not someone who appears to spend much time with “normal folks.”
Handling most of the normal folks is Goldin’s team, including Dave Amerman, who cut his teeth as an extra on Jersey Shore (kidding). He’s been with Goldin since the beginning, and in this episode, he’s overseeing the “Jackie Robinson Auction,” a promotion by Goldin to mark the 75th anniversary of Robinson breaking the league’s color barrier.
Amerman and the team have collected a slew of monumental prizes for the auction, including an ‘88 Dodgers World Series pendant, a 1938 Pasadena JuCo yearbook signed by Robinson three times (Robinson went to Pasadena and was a three-sport athlete before heading to UCLA), and a Robinson 1949 All-Star game-used bat.
But the auction is still missing its centerpiece. To that end, Goldin enslists Amerman to secure a game-worn Jackie Robinson jersey.
We also meet “The Robbies,” a father-son duo who are the self-described “bird-dogs” for Goldin. They go out and scout potential items that could appear at auction, acting essentially as gatekeepers to the company. Today, they’re meeting Ed Gold (tired of the metal-based surnames, yet?), whose man-cave is littered with priceless memorabilia from sports history, including a Babe Ruth autographed baseball. But the Robbies aren’t there for the Ruth ball, much to their chagrin. Instead, they’re tasked with appraising a collection of Beanie Babies.
Finally, Goldin reveals his current passion project: finding the hallowed 2020 Panini Flawless 1/1 LeBron James Triple Logoman card. To aid in his search, Goldin flies to Toronto to meet with Drake, a totally normal rapper and actor guy.
Items Discussed and Auctioned in Episode 1
Jackie Robinson Game Used Jersey
Amerman travels to a sports memorabilia shop to check out a 1951 Jackie Robinson jersey. Made of thick cotton and stained with what appears to be blood around the collar, the jersey is literally a 1 of 1 – this was still a time when players wore a single jersey for the entire season.
Here’s the snag: the seller is only willing to part with the jersey if there’s a $10 million reserve on it. A reserve is a minimum amount that an auction has to hit in order for the item to be sold and, as Amerman makes clear, is not something the auction house likes to do. But, given the item’s stake as the centerpiece of the Robinson auction, Amerman agrees.
Let’s be real here: there was no way this jersey was going to hit that mark. Prior to this auction in 2022 (during filming), Robinson’s 1950 jersey went for a max of $4.2 million, a mark reached the year before by Hunt Auctions. And Another went for $2.05 million in 2017. Babe Ruth, probably the most marketable baseball icon, saw his jersey sell for a record-high $5.6 million in 2019, also by Hunt.
Yes, the COVID pandemic saw collectible prices surge, but to see a valuation nearly double in two years would be a tremendous (read: impossible) feat in any field, collectibles or otherwise. Unless there was an oil field under that jersey, it wasn’t getting to $10 million.
But this is where arguably Goldin’s biggest selling point comes to fruition: the marketing.
“Our secret sauce at Goldin is always creating an event.”
Goldin goes to the mat for this jersey, pulling out every stop imaginable to make sure any would-be bidders know this jersey is coming up for auction. It’s a reminder that attention and eyeballs are everything.
Goldin even does his own marketing clip, seen below:
The episode ends with the bidding stuck at $7.2 million (already a record, by the way) and Ken getting on the phone with the seller to convince him to lower the reserve, even offering to slash the commission in half.
1986 Fleer Basketball Box Break with DRAKE
Amidst the action, Ken travels to Toronto to team up with Drake to break several Panini Flawless boxes with the hopes of landing a LeBron James Triple Logoman card. They hype up the breaks with the idea that after each failed box break, the chances of landing the LeBron card increase.
“Box breaks can literally be considered the hobby form of gambling.”
Ultimately, the breaks prove fruitless. After spending a totally normal $200,000 on a handful of boxes, the cream of the crop is a Penny Hardway logoman auto, appraised at $50,000.
But then we get to a bit of showbiz – after all, Ken Goldin can’t leave Drake feeling down and out, right? He offers up a sealed 1986-87 Fleer Box. This set contains the Michael Jordan #57 rookie card, an iconic piece that’s hit $840,000 in Gem Mint condition. It would be a huge coup, right?
Well, imagine the shock on Drake and Goldin’s face when, the last card of the pack, is a Jordan. It’s pandemonium. Thrill abounds. It made for great television. Unfortunately, that’s all it is: television. As we covered in our deep-dive on the ‘86 Fleer box, it’s not uncommon for boxes to contain 3-4 Jordans on average. While nothing is ever guaranteed, Goldin likely knew what he was doing; whether Drake knew that his box was actually less than spectacular is another issue entirely.
But hey – you’ve got to keep the customer satisfied, right?
Beanie Babies Collection
The Robbies bring Ed Gold’s Beanie Babies collection back to HQ, where they have antiques appraiser Dr. Lori Verderame inspect the lot. Dr. Lori, as she’s called on the show, is an absolute hoot and, it’s fair to say, knows her stuff. Conditions, including whether the Beanie Baby’s eyes are straight, the stomach sags, and, perhaps most importantly, passing the sniff test, are all discussed. As Dr. Lori says, If you can smell it, you can’t sell it.
Of particular importance in Ed Gold’s collection is a Purple “Princess” Beanie Baby, created in 1997 after the death of Princess Diana.
Dr. Lori reminds us of a critical aspect of selling in the hobby: timing is everything. With the anniversary of Princess Diana’s death around the corner, she claims that the Beanie Baby, which would go for $500 normally, could go for $2,500 during the month commemorating her death.
But Beanie Babies present a unique problem of their own: their value was grossly inflated during the toy’s heyday of the 1990s. This makes it challenging to determine their value today, especially when you can find listings for the Princess Diana model for anywhere between hundreds of thousands of dollars and a few bucks. In 2023, a lot of 10 Princess Diana Beanie Babies went for $360 at Goldin.
Ultimately, the Beanie Babies collection is appraised by Dr. Lori for somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,000 – $8,000.
Final Thoughts on Episode 1
Ultimately, the first episode of King of Collectibles is designed to entice the viewer and invite them into the exciting world of coinsigning collectibles. To that end, it delivers, touching on a little something for everyone (including Presidential hair). Seeing Goldin rub elbows with Drake is precisely the sort of glamor one would expect right out of the gate.
For hobbyists, the episode provides smart insights. Marketing is crucial, whether you’re trying to get rid of a James Wiseman base Prizm or a Jackie Robinson game-used jersey. So is presentation – it’s not just about the jersey, but creating an event built around the player (and, of course, the jersey).
But did all of the marketing pay off? Let’s buzz over to Episode 2 to find out.
Episode 2: Number one or Bust
Length of episode: 31 minutes
It’s what I love to do, and I stuck with it.
Unfortunately for Goldin, the Robinson jersey seller doesn’t budge on the reserve. It’s a tough beat for Goldin and the team, especially after the jersey finishes with bidding stuck at $7.2 million. While not the desired result, $10 million was always going to be a near-impossible ask.
That said, the Robinson event is still billed as a success for another record-setting sale. The All-Star game-used bat sold for north of $1 million, making it the biggest bat sale in history. How to follow up such a sale? Pumping the network chain.
This is smart strategy that beginners might miss. As soon as a big deal is complete, the Goldin team hits their network of owners with similar items to gauge interest in similar deals. It’s a great way to show that you mean business, can get an item across the finish line, and stay ahead of the competition.
But if the last episode rolled out the red carpet to celebrate Goldin’s rich status, this one plays more on the hobby’s ethos. Let’s look at some of the items highlighted in Episode 2 of King of Collectibles:
Items Discussed and Auctioned in Episode 2
2017 El Clasico Game-Used Lionel Messi Jersey
Ken meets up with Damian Olivera, heralded in the show as the “Soccer King.” That title might not be hyperbole – Damian is one of the most prolific soccer memorabilia collectors in the world.
Damian doesn’t come from a wealthy background. In the episode, he describes having $200 left to his name and using it to purchase a package of soccer cards at a thrift store. A few years later, and he’s turned that $200 into a thriving international business in the soccer collectibles hobby. It’s an inspiring story (perhaps a bit too Hollywood), but we’ll take it. Now, Damian is on the cusp of a major deal with Lionel Messi to become his official game-used jersey distributor.
Among the rows of jerseys on racks is a jersey with a special place in Damian’s (and international soccer’s) heart: the jersey Messi wore for the 2017 El Clasico.
Game-used soccer jerseys have fetched pretty ridiculous prices in the past. For instance, Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” jersey sold for $9.3 million in 2022 over protests from the player’s family. A Paris Saint-Germain game-used Messi jersey sold on Goldin for $7,200 earlier this year, as well.
Given the fact that this jersey was worn during Barcelona’s victory against Real Madrid in El Clasico and the fact that Messi scored the game-winning goal with 30 seconds left and the fact that he took the jersey off and showed it to the crowd after scoring, this one is a valuable item. Even though Damian is hesitant to sell, Ken suggests that a huge sale could be enough to convince Messi to make Damian the player’s exclusive seller. This is enough to convince Damian to consign it through Goldin, and he’s rewarded handsomely: the jersey sells for $450,000.
This is why he’s the King of Collectibles!
2009 Steph Curry Topps Chrome Rookie Gold Refractor
Next up, a sports card story that will warm your heart. We all have that idea in our heads: we’ll buy a pack of cards and hit it rich with a one-of-a-kind pull. It’s the stuff of movies. Or, if you’re one lucky 11-year-old from Colorado, it’s reality.
The card in question: a 2009 Topps Chrome Stephen Curry Rookie Gold Refractor /50. An unassuming photo of the baby-faced assassin won’t get touted for creative design, but Curry’s rookie gold refractor is currently valued nearly $200,000 by CardLadder in Gem Mint condition. It is one of the rarest out there featuring one of the game’s most iconic superstars. Despite being ungraded, the card looks visually excellent, thanks to a card protector and some sage advice the owner’s dad gave to him early on.
“My dad always told me to take care of my cards.”
Better than that, it’s the 1/50, which tends to carry even more of a premium since it was the first printed. Despite a $150,000 cash offer, the owner decides to let Goldin oversee the card’s grading and auction.
Steph Curry cards are some of the most valuable in the hobby. In fact, his 2009 National Treasures Logoman set a record for most expensive basketball card ever in 2021, with a $5.9 million private sale. These Gold Refractors range from $480,000 in BGS 10 to roughly $70,000 in BGS 7.5 condition. There’s also a Black parallel to the Gold in Topps (not Topps Chrome, but just Topps), valued at $75,000 in PSA 10 condition.
This card comes back a PSA 8, throwing a bit of doubt as to whether or not the card will beat the $150,000 private offer. The episode ends with Amerman staring down the bids figure with the clock dramatically winding down.
Apple 1/Apple Collection
Alex Fung and Ryan Krupa go out to meet with Kevin, who’s promised an Apple 1 computer. These computers were the first created by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976 and only lasted for one year before being replaced by the Apple 2.
Everything about this early computer screams “batteries not included.” They make a point to say that the keyboard and monitor were sold separately from the computer itself, a stark reminder of how far we’ve come since the days of stagflation and Agent Orange.
The Apple 1 owner grew up with computers in the house as a result of his dad being involved in the business. As a result, there’s serious nostalgia tied to his collection, which includes every single Apple computer model ever released.
As for the computer itself, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was not it. It looked like a computer’s skeleton, which is not to say it was in bad condition. To the contrary, it looked great; but the pieces were laid out on a table like a game of Operation.
Appearance aside, these computers put the rare in motherboard (all the letters are there, trust me). In 2022, an Apple 1 sold for $700,000 at auction, while another went for $460,000 after a $500,000 appraisal on Pawn Stars a few years back.
Perhaps the coolest part of this item is that it’s “signed” by Steve Jobs on the back. Jobs, who notoriously hated signing autographs, wrote a serial number on the back of this Apple 1, which only adds to its value.
In addition to the Apple 1, the Goldin team leaves with a few later-generation sealed Macs (not to be confused with sealed wax). The Apple 1 eventually sold for $442,000, beating the $375,000 valuation.
Final Thoughts on Episode 2
Honestly, the second episode of King of Collectibles is exactly what I hoped the show would be about. All three marquee items highlighted in the episode come from heartwarming stories – a tale of family nostalgia, a rags-to-riches soccer nut, and a kid who pulled a life-changing card.
There’s also a bit of humanity demonstrated by several members of the Goldin team, including the owner himself. He goes out of his way to offer up his experience and friendship to Damian, of whom he sees a bit of himself. It’s a reminder that, no matter why you’re involved in the hobby, kindness is the most precious asset.
Episode 3: The Golden Ticket
Length of episode: 27 minutes
“One of the coolest parts of the job is holding some of the most valuable items in the world.”
We pick up with the Steph Curry auction, which nets $187,000 to the seller after commission ($204,000 was the final price paid, with Amerman splitting the commission with the seller out of the goodness of his heart). Thankfully, that figure eclipses the $150,000 cash offer, and everybody wins.
The rest of this episode revolves mainly around non-sports memorabilia, with one glaring exception – the LeBron Triple Logoman. That said, if you’re not into techy wristwatches or the personal belongings of musical legends, the bulk of this episode may not be for you.
Items Discussed and Auctioned in Episode 3
LeBron James Triple Logoman
Despite Ken’s best efforts, he’s unable to find the LeBron James Triple Logoman, his own Moby Dick for the fist half of this series. But it’s not without his best efforts – he and Consignment Director Carlo Civitella break several 2019 Panini Flawless boxes, hitting a few sweet cards from the ghosts of NBA’s past: Allen Iverson, Larry Bird, John Stockton, and David Robinson. For what it’s worth, these 10-card boxes were priced at around $15,000 at the time (Spring 2022).
That’s right – in this episode, it’s revealed that a trio of sports card enthusiasts bought into an online break and just so happened to land the LeBron James Triple Logoman card.
At one point, Ken argues that this card is the “undisputed Holy Grail” of modern card collecting. While the 2009 National Treasures Stephen Curry Logoman might like a word on that claim, Ken isn’t wrong that this card is extremely valuable and extremely rare. It has all the hallmarks of a valuable card: it contains three Logoman patches, which are considered the most valuable patch a card can have. As a 1/1, its scarcity is literally etched into the card. And it depicts one of the game’s most important players of all time.
This stratosphere of collecting is reserved for only the deepest pockets, and for good reason. We’re talking the upper echelon of basketball cards, a list that features some of the biggest sales of all time.
That includes the Giannis Antetokounmpo RPA Logoman that sold for $1.8 million in 2020 and set a new basketball record in the process. Or the 1997-98 Kobe Bryant Precious Metal Gems card that sold for $2 million two years later (a record high for Kobe Bryant cards).
In the end, the LeBron Triple Logoman does better than those – capping out at $2.4 million after the buyer’s fees.
1988 WristMac Watch
How fun were the late ‘80s? If you’re in the sports cards hobby, maybe not that great, what with all the Junk Wax proliferating the market.
But for watch collectors, 1988 was a landmark year, with Seiko releasing the WristMac, a programmable watch that included a floppy disk that could interface with a Mac computer. It is, in a sense, the first Apple Watch.
Ultimately the watch, which is in pretty excellent condition, is appraised at $30,000. It’s unclear whether or not the watch actually hit that amount, or if it’s even been sold yet. What we do know is that this valuation is substantially higher than the $7,500 auction for the same watch by Comic Connection in 2021. But that’s the Goldin difference, right?
And, in the grand scheme of rare watches, $30,000 is a drop in the bucket when comparing to a few premium timekeepers. That includes a limited edition 1942 Rolex that sold for more than $1 million in 2011.
Jimi Hendrix Pink Boa
Would Goldin really be the King of Collectibles without a foray into the music business? During this episode, Myesha Buchanan, a Junior Consignment Director, invites a music memorabilia collector in to share a few items for consignment. The list of goodies includes Jimi Hendrix’s pink boa from the cover of the Are You Experienced album cover. Hendrix also donned the boa during the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
Ultimately, the boa sells for $9,500 at auction, a far cry from Elvis Presely’s classic white jumpsuit from his 1972 concert at MSG that went for a shade over $1 million in 2021.
Jim Morrison Driver’s License
In addition to the pink boa, the music collector brings in Jim Morrison’s driver’s license. Several things stand out about the license. First, seriously anything from history can be a collectible. Second, there’s more to this than just a driver’s license. There’s an actual photograph of Morrison, which is an authentic photo that adds value to the piece. The third bit is best summed up by Dave Amerman, who argues why items like this are catnip to collectors.
“Collectors are always looking for the item that can connect them, put them as close to a favorite athlete or celebrity as possible.”
The license sells for a slightly mind-boggling $19,000 at auction.
Michael Jackson “Beat It” Studio Notes
One of the coolest items to hit Goldin’s shelves in the entire series is a set of studio notes from Michael Jackson’s hit “Beat It.” The notes are handwritten from Jackson, who recorded the song for his Thriller album.
Studio notes have a long history in the collectibles market. Paul McCartney’s handwritten “Hey Jude” lyrics sold for $910,000 back in 2020, for instance, while Freddie Mercury’s original “Bohemian Rhapsody” lyric sheets went for over $1.7 million in 2023.
The studio notes may not have quite hit those highs, selling for $11,000, but they remain an incredible piece of music history.
Final Thoughts on Episode 3
While much of the series, and Goldin, for that matter, focuses on sports memorabilia, it’s always fun to stretch out of the comfort zone a bit. That’s precisely what this episode does, introducing folks to the worlds of watch collecting and music memorabilia.
While it takes a bit of a detour from the usual programming, the LeBron Triple Logoman is a soothing balm for sports collectors who may not fall madly in love with an ‘80s Apple Watch.
Episode 4: Puerto Richo
Length of episode: 35 minutes
At this point in the series, things take a definitive turn. It’s almost as if they expected the LeBron Triple Logoman to be the series throughline, which was obviously foisted a bit early when the card was discovered. It’s a reminder that despite all of the programmable bits of reality TV, sometimes reality bites.
Up to this point, King of Collectibles has done well to mix in some lower-tier memorabilia. But from here on out, it’s a barrage of super high-end items, beginning with Episode 4’s trip to Puerto Rico and cresting with Episode 6’s Karl Malone takeover.
In addition, the show goes on the road a bit more from here on. Yes, the New Jersey HQ is still featured, but we see far more shots of Ken boarding a private jet in Jordan’s than we do him sitting at his desk at the office.
Items Discussed and Auctioned in Episode 4
As the title of the fourth King of Collectibles episode suggests, Ken takes a trip with his daughter to Puerto Rico to check out the absolutely ludicrous sports memorabilia collection owned by Jim Taubenfeld. And when they arrive to Taubenfeld’s home, the haul doesn’t disappoint. There’s a little of everything in this treasure chest of cultural history: game-used jerseys galore, shoes, Micheal Jackson’s fedora, a Billy Joel Grammy, even an original 1920 Boston Celtics jersey.
Ultimately, Ken sets aside roughly $20 million – $40 million worth of memorabilia to take back for consignment. The pair agree on what appears to be the biggest cash advance in Goldin’s history – $12.5 million, wired that day.
The cash advance will then be deducted from the final amount the consignor receives when/if the items sell.
One touching moment from the Taubenfeld bit comes as Ken attempts to persuade Jim to become a seller, rather than a buyer. He tells a hesitant Jim:
“What you’re also going to do is allow other people to experience what you’ve experienced over the past 40 years.”
In Goldin’s eyes, his work involves expanding the hobby’s interest base so that more people can participate. It’s a strong departure from the dog-eat-dog world we’ve grown accustomed to up to this point.
Pokemon Trophy Cards
Of course, sports cards aren’t the only representatives in the trading card market. This is a point made abundantly clear with a trio of Pokemon cards featured in Episode 4 of King of Collectibles.
The set, from a 1998 tournament, are known as “Trophy Pikachus” and were handed out for the first, second, and third place winners of the tournament (only 14 of each card were produced). It’s not the first time Goldin has handled a Pokemon sale – back in February 2022, Goldin sold a ‘98 Pikachu Illustrator for $900,000.
“The fatter the Pokemon, the cuter the Pokemon, you know?”
A plus for Goldin is that the card comes in a complete set of three. Complete sets are a buyer’s dream; rather than hunt for each card individually, there’s a convenience factor attached to buying a complete collection. As a result, it’s not uncommon for a slight “complete set premium” to be attached, meaning more money in the pockets of sellers. The set eventually sells at auction for $480,000.
Ric Flair’s Robe
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Ric Flair is extremely cringy in this episode. From the moment he walks in, he reeks of Old Spice, fake tans, and the spirit of a person clinging to relevance. At one point, he “jokes” about trying to get host Alex Giaimo’s number while trying to promote one of his robes being up for auction. Alex laughs it off, but it’s gross and extremely unprofessional.
In fact, what turns out to be a fairly sentimental moment with Flair talking up his longtime seamstress is overshadowed by this entire back and forth. He’s brought down to Goldin HQ to authenticate the robe, which is expected to hit $20,000 at auction, and even promises to be a high bidder to get the robe back in his own possession. He speaks so respectfully about Olivia Walker, the woman who tailor-made a number of his wrestling-era robes.
Not only is there no conversation by the show about how awkward Flair’s behavior is, King of Collectibles actually swings in the complete opposite direction. Flair’s words are chalked up to him just being a “ladies man,” a line offered by Giaimo in what feels almost like an obligatorily talking head amidst the embarrassment.
In sum, Alex is damn good at her job and it would be 1,000 times easier without being hit on.
This is honestly emblematic of a downside of the entire series. Time and again the show deals with extremely questionable figures – Karl Malone, Mike Tyson, etc. While Flair is the only one that sees the show’s content affected by his behavior, they all linger in the background without any real conversation.
I get it: show’s about the collectibles. That said, when it goes out of its way to invite celebrities with problematic backgrounds, the door opens to this sort of criticism.
Final Thoughts on Episode 4
Episode 4 is probably best remembered as “The International Episode.” Whether its jet setting to Puerto Rico or video conferencing with interested Pokemon consignors, it’s a reminder that this hobby isn’t confined to the borders of a town, state, or even country. Collecting is an international hobby!
It’s also a stark reminder of the lengths Goldin will go to make sure that its auction house is top dog. He literally takes a private jet to Puerto Rico the day after getting the call from Taubenfeld (as a totally normal person does). A King of Collectibles indeed.
Episode 5: Dreams do Come True
Length of episode: 29 minutes
“I think they belong to the people and the people should have them”
After leaving Puerto Rico, King of Collectibles heads to Colorado, with Ken scoping out an exciting baseball card find. But that’s far from the only sports card featured in the episode; in fact, it’s the less-valuable between two covered in Episode 5. We also get a peak at more music collectibles and the process that Goldin uses to authenticate its items.
Items Discussed and Auctioned in Episode 5
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Autographed Card
In 1952, the card brand Topps released a 407-card baseball set which included one of the most iconic cards ever printed: the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card. In 2022, this card set the record as the most expensive card of all time, going for $12.6 million at private sale.
So imagine the excitement when the same card appears on King of Collectibles, this one autographed in blue marker by the Chairman of the Cardboard himself. Ken appraises the card between $220,000 – $300,000 and promises to roll out an advertising blitz to make a sale happen. In the end the card comes up short of those appraisals, going for $136,000 at auction.
The biggest reason for the lower price? The card’s condition. The edges are rounded and chipped from years of use, veiny creases criss-cross the card’s front, and parts of the card’s front are chipped. It’s a far cry from the SGC 9.5 that went for $12.6 million in 2022.
Britney Spears X-Factor Halter Top
A music and pop culture collector comes in with a bounty of strange items, including Michael Jackson’s washcloths from a Warsaw Hotel during the HIStory tour. Unfortunately, Goldin isn’t able to authenticate the washcloths (and for good reason).
But the attention quickly goes to a Britney Spears custom halter top that the pop star wore during 2012 of the X-Factor. The top is appraised at $20,000 and isn’t the only Britney Spears-related article of clothing on Goldin’s site. Currently, a Pepsi-inspired cutoff tank is at auction, with bidding set at a few hundred dollars.
One of the cooler aspects of this storyline is that cameras go behind the scenes of Goldin’s authentication process. Throughout the show, we hear of a process called “photomatching,” a concept explained in this episode.
Photomatching consists of using photographs of an item to authenticate it as the item in hand. Researchers look for distinguishing characteristics of an item on the photographs and seek to identify the same on the item in question. For instance, the Britney Spears halter top has several unique buttons, which line up in both the picture and actual item itself.
It’s easy to see how this could be a difficult process, especially when considering a player’s jersey. With so many worn throughout the season, researchers have a mighty task on their hands to find the actual game a jersey was worn during.
Lewis Hamilton 1/1 Rookie Superfractor Card
Remember our friend who stumbled upon the Stephen Curry Topps Chrome Gold Refractor? Well, lightning struck twice. A French-Canadian kid name Jean purchased a pack of F1 cards for $50 and hit the jackpot: a 2020 Topps Chrome F1 Lewis Hamilton rookie 1/1 Superfractor.
While basketball and baseball cards tend to get all the love in the hobby, F1 cards have a thriving industry of their own. The previous record for an F1 card was a 2006 Future Grand Prix, which sold for $312,000 at a Goldin Auction in 2022.
Ultimately, the final tally for this card isn’t revealed by the show. A private buyer offers $750,000 for the card before being brought back in to make a bigger offer after Jean and Goldin threaten to go to auction. The buyer pulls out all the stops and writes a number on a scrap of paper, sliding it across a desk. Jean, the card’s owner, accepts immediately. And thus the heartwarming story ends…
Unfortunately, this entire bit appears likely staged for the cameras. While the interested buyer came in to make what appears to be a Godfather offer to Jean, Goldin’s website says otherwise. Apparently, the card went up for auction last year, with the winning bid being $750,000 ($900,000 after tacking on buyer’s premium). So either the entire bit was completely done for television, or the buyer immediately gave the card to Goldin to auction. It’s unsurprising; there’s little incentive for Goldin to facilitate a private sale.
Either way, it’s a bit of a disappointing truth to an otherwise feel-good story.
Mike Tyson Video Game Shorts
Before the episode ends, we’re taken for a brief detour into the world of boxing collectibles. Ken meets with boxing legend Mike Tyson, who is interested in consigning the pair of black shorts he wore for the cover of the ‘80s video game Punch-Out!! Appraised at $25,000, the shorts aren’t alone in Punch-Out!! lore. Goldin sold a 9.2 graded 1987 Punch-Out!! for $51,600 in 2022.
Final Thoughts on Episode 5
While we know absolutely nothing about the person who purchased the Lewis Hamilton card, we can rest assured anyone who drops north of $750,000 for a sports card is not a “normal person.” Ditto for whoever ends up with the Mickey Mantle Topps card. And Mike Tyson and Peyton Manning in the same episode? Ken Goldin is not an average Joe and, at least in this episode, his clientele and likely buyers are far from normal, as well.
As much as he wants to be the hobby’s everyman connector, he’s here for the whales, not the minnows.
Episode 6: The Goldin Offer
Length of episode: 41 minutes
In the final episode of King of Collectibles, we go back to the quote we began this post with: everything is a collectible. That includes fashion accessories, trading cards, and, if Dave Amerman and Carlo Civitella are to be believed, even houses.
Items Discussed and Auctioned in Episode 6
As it turns out, Gucci is more than the subject of a questionable movie featuring an even more questionable Italian accent from Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. Jokes aside, we start off with Ken sending his daughter Laura to check out a collection of vintage Gucci accessories.
Included among the lot for consignment is a Grey Ostritch Coat and Hat, as well as a Train Case. Combined, the two are appraised at $7,000. Vintage accessories can make for excellent collectors items, especially when tied to celebrities. For instance, Winston Churchill’s Lemania watch has sold at auction, as has a pair of John Lennon’s sunglasses from 1968.
Can a house be a collectible? If it featured in one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, then why not! The Goldin team heads up to Staten Island to check out “The Godfather House,” so named because, well, it was in The Godfather.
The pitch is a simple one: the team purchases the house, renovates it so it looks like it did in the movie, and then either re-sell it or set it up for visitors. That is, until another idea springs to mind: have people purchase shares of the house.
For that, Goldin contacts Rally, a site that calls itself the stock market for collectibles. Rather than one person owning an expensive item, Rally itself owns it and allows individuals to purchase shares of the product. Then, when it’s sold, those who own shares can receive compensation, as one would with any other stock investment.
Rally is an excellent option for collectors who may not have Goldin’s deep pockets, but nonetheless want to get involved. Further, it’s a great way to actually treat the hobby as an investment opportunity. The items Rally offers range from sports memorabilia (like a Kobe Bryant signed hardwood piece from his last season) to pop culture (like an Andy Warhol signed print).
Ken flies back down to Puerto Rico to meet up with Logan Paul and break a sealed 1999 Pokemon box with the internet personality and boxing star. The box itself, which contains 36 packs, sold for $360,000 total (roughly $10,000 per pack). The pair’s goal is simple: find a Charizard Holofoil, one of the most sought-after Pokemon cards out there (valued at $400,000). Ultimately, they come up short.
It’s at this point that Ken asks Paul about the latter’s most prized possession – a PSA 10 Illustrator that he purchased for over $5 million, making it the most expensive Pokemon card ever.
“Yo that Ken Goldin is sneaky.“
After doing another break (this time using one of Paul’s personal boxes) and yet again coming up empty, Goldin tries to see what it would take to get the Illustrator card on Goldin’s site for consignment. Paul says if Goldin can find a buyer for $10 million he’d sell it, but unsure for anything less.
Karl Malone Dream Team Jersey Set
Ken and the Robbies head out to meet Karl Malone, Hall of Fame basketball player and 1992 Dream Team member. Goldin is on the hunt to bring home Malone’s collection of Dream Team jerseys.
The story of how Malone came to own the jerseys is a fun one – he didn’t think much of them at the time, but his wife shrewdly collected everyone’s jersey as they tossed them on the ground in the locker room. Goldin showcased the jerseys in a massive online event earlier this year and netted a fortune, topping out at $3 million for Michael Jordan’s signed uniform. Dream Team memorabilia is some of the most treasured in the hobby, with game-worn shoes and Skybox card sets going for thousands of dollars.
The 4,000,000+ Topps Collection
Here we find every kid’s dream – wandering into an attic and finding millions of baseball cards perfectly organized. Such is the case for “Barry,” a collector featured in Episode 6 of King of Collectibles. After an uninspiring first pass through his house, the Goldin team is ready to leave. But Barry has a hidden gem upstairs – every single Topps card ever, starting in 1952.
The attic is lined with baseball cards and other baseball memorabilia. It’s a treasure chest of sporting history. And Barry’s ready to hand it all over to Goldin for consignment. Given his age, he’d rather get an honest appraisal at what he has rather than die and have his kids taken for a ride. Discoveries like this make headlines whenever they happen. For instance, a Tampa doctor left his entire baseball card collection to his family after dying. The $20 million collection included a Babe Ruth card among the lot.
Final Thoughts on Episode 6
And that wraps up the series! At the end of Episode 6, we’re left with a pretty hearty dose of Goldin’s status in the hobby. It’s interesting to think about where we started – episode 1 focuses on sports jerseys and Beanie Babies. None of these are “out there” in the consignment space; if you were compiling a list of the most collectible items, a jersey and Beanie Babies might be close to the top of the list.
But by the end, we get a glimpse at how big Goldin’s ambitions are, ambitions personified in a multimillion dollar home. They want to be the biggest players in the industry, it’s Godfathers, if you will. Ending the series with discussions to renovate the Corleones’ residence is only fitting.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
King of Collectibles is a fascinating look behind the hallowed halls of Goldin Auctions. At its heart, the Netflix show is about a guy who will stop at nothing to sit at the top of a hobby he’s been involved in for 40+ years. That includes shaking hands with Karl Malone, a star who’s been in headlines for disturbing reasons lately.
Goldin has undoubtedly opened up the hobby to millions worldwide. And the appreciation for history is certainly present, though perhaps a distant second behind the appreciation for cold hard cash.
That said, the show is still a show. It’s fair to wonder how many of the actual confrontations were staged – after all, Ken goes to Puerto Rico in a private jet. There’s little belief that he’ll be leaving empty handed. These confrontations go to reinforce the idea that he’s an expert closer, which is arguably the super power he’s most vocal about during the series. On the other hand, the look on Dave’s face when the Jackie Robinson jersey doesn’t hit the $10 million reserve seems fairly authentic.
But look beyond the staged reality of a Netflix show. Look beyond the tycoon who has taken a hobby essentially started for children and turned it into a $200+ million business. And beyond the gratuitous box breaks with Logan Paul and Goldin’s unscrupulous plan to get the star to part with his “prized possession” after failing to find a Holofoil Charizard in one of his personal boxes.
Look at it the way Jean does. As a reminder, Jean is the French-Canadian kid who landed the Lewis Hamilton Superfractor 1/1 rookie card and a life-changing offer. Watching the show through his eyes is a chance to see the hobby in its purest form: there’s the parent-child relationship that brings many into the hobby in the first place, represented by the Robbies. The thrill of rediscovering a (potentially priceless) card after tossing it in a desk years before, represented by Avery and his Stephen Curry Topps Chrome Gold refractor rookie card. The attic packed with baseball cards from every era.
The show is packed with plenty of nostalgia that extends beyond the items themselves. Because the hobby is never really about the collectibles, but the community of shared experiences and the highs that sustain it.
How did you feel about the show? Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let us know in the comments.