Massive music collection may set eBay record
Paul Mawhinney has collected a whopping 3 million records and 300,000 CDs. On Thursday, he's selling them all on eBay.
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The Pittsburgh man is the owner of a staggering archive of 3 million records and 300,000 CDs that hit the auction block this week. Snapping up a jukebox of this magnitude requires a rock star's spending habits, with $3 million pegged as the minimum bid.
Now his treasure trove (Mawhinney puts its value at $50 million) of recordings is taking its decidedly analog act to the high-tech stage.
This Library of Congress-size collection of the history of American music has the potential to be the biggest eBay sale ever. (The highest-priced item to date, a private jet, sold for $4.9 million.) Already, the prospect of selling records is setting records: More people have window-shopped the collection (129,000 and counting as of Tuesday night) than anything ever offered on the site in company history.
"That is a massive collection by any standard," says Susan Sliwicki, associate editor of Goldmine magazine, a leading publication devoted to vinyl in Iola, Wis.
She says a highlight of Mawhinney's collection would be an unreleased, untitled Rolling Stones album of early singles. Originally recorded in mono, which is very desirable for collectors, Ms. Sliwicki says she's seen equally rare LPs sell for $5,000 to $10,000. "In terms of reflecting a lot of what's going on in musical culture, this collection does that. In terms of value, value is a tricky thing." But, she adds, "he's not just a single high value collector, he's got a real history of music."
Needed: one big basement
If you're thinking of getting in on the action, be warned: You're going to need a bigger garage. Or attic. Or aircraft hangar.
How big is Mawhinney's collection? Next time you're in Boston, drop by the Hard Rock Café, a familiar pop music tourist trap covering 16,000 square feet. That's the size of Mawhinney's combination record shop and archive located in a nondescript suburban Pittsburgh strip mall.
"The first time I saw it, my jaw dropped," says J. Paul Henderson, a former Top 40 and R&B deejay now representing Mawhinney in the auction and sale. Forty years ago, Mr. Henderson was an aspiring musician who cut one record. Mawhinney owns it. "I about passed out."
The 6 million unique pieces of music in the collection would take 57 years to listen to from beginning to end, Mawhinney says. (And you thought Bruce Springsteen could play forever.)
Mawhinney wants a buyer who will keep the archive intact; (he also has many duplicates that the buyer could keep or sell to recoup costs). He nearly sold the entire collection for $28 million a decade ago, before the buyer declared bankruptcy.