As the latest significant update to this ongoing high profile memorabilia auction house fraud scandal, the lead journalists covering the story for the New York Daily News today reports that William Mastro of Mastro Auctions will be changing his plea to guilty on one fraud count, and will admit that he “altered the world’s most valuable trading card, a Honus Wagner T206 that has fetched millions of dollars in a series of high-profile transactions”. It’s last sale was to Ken Kendrick, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who paid $2.8 million for the baseball card. Mastro originally purchased the card for $25,000.
The New York Daily News has been publishing excellent coverage of the Mastro Auctions developments, some of which has been noted here on the Original Prop Blog:
- 07/25/12: FBI: “William Mastro and Two Other Executives of Former Mastro Auctions Indicted for Allegedly Defrauding Bidders in Online and Live Auctions of Sports Memorabilia and Other Collectibles”
- 03/16/09: Mastro Auctions Closes In Midst Of FBI Investigation Into Shill Bidding & Fraud Allegations
Again, they have leading coverage on today’s latest developments:
- Former sports collectibles king Bill Mastro, known for Honus Wagner card, will plead guilty to fraud
Per the news report, Prosecutors Nancy DePodesta and Steven Grimes have requested a change of plea hearing with the courts for early February, and that “Mastro’s attorneys support the request”.
The journalists for the Daily News, O’Keefe and Thompson, published a book in 2008 (The Card: Collectors, Con Men and the True Story of History’s Most Desired Baseball Card), and claim that the famous card was “cut from a printer’s sheet, was further trimmed by Mastro to make it appear as if it has been carefully preserved for decades after it was removed from a pack of cigarettes in 1909”, and that “[t]he upgrade not only improved the appearance of the card, but it increased its value significantly and helped spark the trading card and sports memorabilia boom of the 1980s and 1990s”.