'World's Largest Record Collection' for Sale on eBay
By Eliot Van Buskirk EmailFebruary 19, 2008 | 11:20:20 AM
A physical music collection purported to be the largest in the world is on sale on eBay, with a minimum reserve bid of $3 million. The collection includes more than 6 million songs on 3 million records and 300,000 compact discs. If you were to buy the whole thing on iTunes by the song -- not that you'd be able to find all of them -- the collection would run you $5,940,000 (in that sense, $3 million is a bargain).
Paul Mawhinney, the Pittsburgh-based publisher of the Music Master record price guide, started the collection about 50 years ago with a Frankie Lane record. His plan hit a rough patch as the collection passed the 160,000 mark: His wife told him that either he had to go or the records did. He stayed, and the records went into a climate-controlled warehouse.
Mawhinney says he kept collecting because he believed "someone had to preserve the music ... the history," but that he's selling now due to "declining health and associated financial concerns."
Here's what your $3 million bid will get you, according to Mawhinney's website:
Every genre of American music is represented: rock; jazz; country; R&B; blues; new age; Broadway and Hollywood; bluegrass; folk; children's; comedy; Christmas, and more. No other collection in the world –- publicly or privately held -- even comes close.
More than half of the recordings in this incredible collection are NEW, with individual records worth hundreds or thousands of dollars each on the collectibles market. Covering many decades of music, the collection includes 78s, 45 singles and EPs, LPs and CDs. While there are an estimated 6 million unique recordings, there are also many duplicates, which can be sold to recoup some of the cost of the collection without diminishing the collection's historical value.
Every recording in this amazing collection has been purchased by its owner, Paul Mawhinney, over a period of a half-century, and stored in a 16,000-square-foot climate-controlled warehouse. Many millions of dollars have been invested in the acquisition and storage of the collection, the estimated value of which is now greater than $50 million dollars.
Mawhinney is seeking a buyer such as "a museum, library, university or charitable foundation " that can keep the whole collection together, saying that "cleverly arranged and displayed, and surrounded by additional cultural memorabilia, the collection could even become a tourist attraction." That could be especially true in 10 years or so, when only hard-core music fans listen to physical music formats.
UPDATE: The winning bidder can save a sawbuck if they open an eBay MasterCard account; directly underneath Mawhinney's $3 million reserve price lies the standard promo appeal, "Get $10 back on this item. See Details." What a deal.