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Out of the Park Home Runs

In early 1999, the world was stunned when Guernsey’s sold a single baseball for more than $3,000,000 (Three Million Dollars), an astounding twenty-three times the existing world record. The previous record of $126,000 was set only months before the Guernsey’s event when Sotheby’s sold a famed ball hit by the legendary Babe Ruth. At the baseball auction Guernsey’s conducted live at Madison Square Garden (and broadcast around the world by CNN), many records toppled (a Hank Aaron ball fetched nearly $1 million), but it was the ball hit by Mark McGwire that not only smashed the record for a baseball but became the most expensive object relating to the world of sport ever sold!

The aforementioned baseball auction was notable for many reasons. It was the first auction where a traditional auction house employed the use of the Internet to bolster an event. Guernsey’s permitted eBay to become involved in the sale by allowing bidders to bid on-line in “real time.” And although the event was to be the first of several that have demonstrated that “serious spenders” still prefer to participate “live” at auctions (in person or on the telephone), Internet bidders participated actively on the less expensive items in the sale. The auction was broadcast live by CNN nationally, an absolute first. Millions of viewers were able to watch as the dramatic auction unfolded. (Copies of that CNN broadcast are available.) Indeed, the auction was one of the first to be cited as a truly “global” event with media coverage everywhere. Be it in central Europe, the central U.S. or central Asia, the world has tuned in to the excitement of Guernsey’s auctions. (CNN recently mentioned to Guernsey’s that news coverage – based upon a ranking system they utilize – listed several of Guernsey’s auctions as the most widely covered news stories in the world at the time the events took place!)

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