The sports memorabilia market has always been a strong hobby for collectors and investors alike, and the sports card collecting market specifically has seen a recent resurgence.
Of course, much like any other hobbyist endeavor, sometimes, getting your hands on a rare, vintage, or just plain popular collectible is easier said than done unless your bankroll is quite large.
No more, as a new company called Collectable, which launched its app on Sept. 10, is bringing fractional ownership of memorabilia to the masses, and their first endeavor is one New York fans and those worldwide can really enjoy: a 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle card rated Gem Mint 10 – one of only two in the world, and an item offered for $2.5 million.
“It’s a slice of American exceptionalism, and we’re excited to be the only company to offer this particular card,” Collectable CEO Ezra Levine told WFAN.com during an exclusive look at Collectable. “Mantle was the lynchpin of a dynasty, and is synonymous with the New York Yankees.”
That $2.5 million is pocket change for, say, someone looking to buy the Mets, but not feasible for most. With fractionalization, though, Collectable looks to bring that feasibility to as many people as possible, offering shares of memorabilia that many would love to own but just don’t have the means to invest in.
“This shines a brighter light on one of the industry’s major flaws: high-end stuff that has good investment opportunities isn’t available to regular people,” Levine said. “When I heard about fractionalization, I loved it. We have a chance to bring in anyone across the country to invest in things that have meaning and emotional ties across the world. Sports are the greatest unifier out there, so why should the best opportunities only be available to the wealthy?”
For the Mantle card, for example, Collectable retains 60% ownership, and the other 40 percent will be sold in shares initially priced at $25. Anyone 18 years of age or older with a social security number can purchase shares, and within 90 days, there will be the opportunity for shareholders of any asset to sell or trade their shares on a secondary market within the app.
Once a user has bought shares in an asset and it becomes fully funded, they now own equity in that item, and while the company can’t guarantee a profit, the value of shareholders’ interests will rise as the value of the piece rises. More important than the price for many, though, is the knowledge that they own a certified piece of history.
Collectable is SEC registered under Regulation A, and their investment assets, which will drop regularly starting with the Mantle card, are kept in bank-style vaults, where they are securely monitored at all times. There is thought of doing exclusive showcases for owners and shareholders in the future, as well.
“We have a responsibility to our shareholders to make sure we maintain these assets properly, and by the time its offered on our platform, it’s gone through more checks and balances than items at auction houses,” Levine said.
The launch of the app, which is available on both iOS and Google Play, is the culmination of a labor of love for Levine, who grew up in NYC as a diehard Yankees fan and the son of a diehard collector of memorabilia, specifically Mantle and Sandy Koufax.
“I got my MBA at NYU and worked on Wall Street for years, and I’ve been around this hobby my whole life,” Levine said. “It’s crazy not to notice that the market for memorabilia is on fire – record setting prices across the board, and new entrants and tech being introduced. Through fractionalization, we’re able to apply stock market concepts to the world of collectibles.”
And coming soon in the future, Collectable will work directly with professional athletes to list their own memorabilia, where they can retain ownership shares, and, in some cases, maintain possession of the items themselves. Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith is the first athlete to partner with Collectable for this endeavor, which can include anything from game-used or autographed items to championship rings, trophies, and hardware.
Just another step in the process.
“Despite being a multibillion-dollar industry, sports memorabilia is an antiquated, inaccessible industry for far too many sports fans,” Levine said. “Collectable will break down the barrier to high-end memorabilia through fractional ownership, and directly connect everyday fans to some of the most illustrious items in sports history.”