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Lot # 1574 (of 1673)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1992 Michael Jordan Game-Issued Olympic "Dream Team" Jersey

Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $5,875.00

The complete text of the entire story and catalog description of this lot can be found on the REA blog at http://s210975194.onlinehome.us/blog/?p=21

The following is an abbreviated version:

This is a very famous Jordan jersey. It is extremely well known among Jordan collectors, and due to its well documented provenance has always been considered a "Holy Grail" among all Jordan items. Due to the reverence accorded the legendary 1992 Men's Basketball Olympic "Dream Team" and the fact that Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest player in NBA history, this particular jersey has universally been recognized as one of the most highly prized basketball jerseys in the entire collecting world. Its high-profile status was further enhanced when it was very prominently displayed at a special exhibition at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry in 2001.

Our consignor originally wanted to consign this jersey to our April 2007 auction, but at the time, incredible as it seemed, we already had a Michael Jordan 1992 Olympic Jersey consigned to the sale. It was the only other known example. Obviously, we couldn't offer two such jerseys at the same time; thus it was agreed that Robert Edward Auctions would feature this jersey the following year, in our 2008 auction. When we sent the jersey to MEARS for authentication and grading (as we do with all jerseys, bats, and equipment) we assumed that it was simply a formality. How in the world could the jersey not be authentic, given the provenance documented, and former sales history that accompanied it? Well, you can imagine the shock on our part when MEARS called to tell us the bad news: this jersey was never worn by Michael Jordan in the 1992 Olympics. It was a real team-issue shirt that could not have been purchased by the public, and was made strictly for use by Jordan at the 1992 Olympics, but absolutely never saw game use. That definitive determination was made by exhaustive research and empirical means. The 1992 Men's Olympic Basketball Team wore this white mesh jersey style in games against Argentina, Lithuania, and Canada, and in the Gold Medal game against Croatia. MEARS examined in great detail films and game photos of Jordan from each of those four contests, and in every case the font of the letters on the jersey in the photo did not match the font displayed on the offered jersey.

What to make of this jersey then? Except for the font, it was exactly the same as the jerseys that Jordan did wear in the 1992 Olympics. The answer, it appears, is that this was an extra that Jordan simply did not wear in games. It is, of course, possible that the jersey was used in practice, but this is speculation. All we can be certain of is that the letter implies that Jordan personally gave this very jersey to the Ronald McDonald's Childrens Charity of North Carolina and that he did not wear this particular jersey in the Olympic games. We can also be certain that this was the very jersey sold in 1997 by Christies, described as game-worn and identified as the very jersey purchased at the 1993 charity auction, as we have the catalog and can easily match the jersey with the catalog illustrations. We can also be certain that Ron Marth did indeed purchase a 1992 Olympic Jersey for $19,500 from the Ronald McDonald charity auction, from both the accompanying letter and by the 1993 newspaper articles we have located about the auction. In retrospect, it is possible that the jersey being offered is not the very jersey that was purchased at the charity auction, even though it has always subsequently (until now) been identified as such. The Ronald McDonald Children's Charities letter is authentic and it is also factually accurate, but the letter is not in any way specifically linked to this particular jersey. The letter only confirms that Ron Marth purchased what was identified by the charity as a "Michael Jordan Authentic White 1992 Summer Olympics Game Used Jersey." To infer anything else from the letter would require a leap of faith since it is uncertain that this is the jersey that is being referred to by letter. It could just as easily be the case that the letter was sent to the original buyer, and at a later date purported to refer a different jersey. We will never know for sure.

There is no doubt that this jersey was manufactured expressly for Jordan. It was not available in retail stores. Given its provenance, no one previously ever thought to question its "game-used" status, and no one but MEARS thought (or went to the trouble) to check and see if the jersey matches the photographic record. In hindsight, it seems both an obvious and simple part of the verification process: check the photos. Unfortunately, it was a process that was always overlooked in the past by all interested parties. If not for MEARS' thoroughness and due diligence, this fact would probably never have come to light. Most collectors probably would have never even thought of sending this jersey out for authentication to MEARS, and would probably have thought the entire process to be a waste of time and money, given the jersey's accompanying provenance. There is definitely a lesson to be learned from this jersey.

It should be noted that our consignor, after receiving all of the above information, was given the option by REA of having the jersey returned to him. We also gave him the option of auctioning the jersey properly described. To his credit, he accepted all of the above facts stoically and insisted that we sell the jersey properly described, even though he realizes that it will now sell for a small fraction of what he paid for it. We believe that some unscrupulous individuals would have taken the jersey back and sold it privately, without mentioning the MEARS report. Our consignor chose the high road. Also, it should be noted that he did not ask Christie's to rectify the matter, both because so many years had passed and because he was not the original buyer at the Christie's auction. In addition, we wish to acknowledge that we are confident that neither Christie's nor its jersey experts for the sale had any knowledge that the jersey was anything other than was it was supposed to be, and the error was no doubt simply an honest mistake. The authentication process for uniforms and equipment from all sports is infinitely more thorough and sophisticated today than in years past. This Michael Jordan jersey is a prime example of this progress. The jersey is accompanied by the following five items: 1) September 20, 1997, Christie's catalog picturing the jersey front and back; 2) The original Christie's auction tags; 3) The original Ronald McDonald Children's Charity letter dated August 3, 1993, verifying the purchase of the jersey for $19,500. 4) The original authentication document that accompanied the jersey when purchased in 1993. 5) Additional letter from the Ronald McDonald House Charities dated May 21, 2007. Graded A5 by MEARS. LOA from Dave Bushing & Troy Kinunen/MEARS. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$4,000. SOLD FOR $5,875.00


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