Record Rama collection sells for $3 million

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The winning bid yesterday for the famed Record Rama collection -- billed by owner Paul Mawhinney as the "World's Largest Music Collection" -- came in just slightly above the minimum $3 million bid on eBay.

"It was a little bittersweet," said Mr. Mawhinney's agent, J. Paul Henderson. "We didn't get as much as we wanted."

The high bid on eBay came in at $3,002,150 for a collection Mr. Mawhinney estimated was worth $50 million.

Mr. Mawhinney, the 68-year-old owner of the Ross-based Record Rama, had been trying to sell the collection for many years and nearly got $28 million for it earlier in the decade. But the value of such collections has plunged since the explosion of online music.

Faced with health problems, particularly failing vision, Mr Mawhinney decided to retire, close his store and put the collection on eBay this month, for a minimum of $3 million with no reserve. That averages about one dollar a piece for the vault of approximately 3 million LPs, 45s, CDs, cassettes and 8-tracks, plus his own patented vinyl cleaning system and ownership of six publishing companies and eight independent labels. It is believed to be the second biggest sale in the history of eBay, after a $4.9 million private jet.

Not much is known yet about "jopsoup," the screen name of the Galway, Ireland-based buyer, other than that he has 33 positive feedback ratings and one negative in his eBay purchasing history.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Henderson had the bidder's name and number but did not want to release it until he had spoken to him. He was unsure whether the bid was legitimate, but said, "We have a plan B. We heard from someone legitimate who wants to buy it."

Michael Fremer, senior contributing editor of Stereophile magazine, was stunned that anyone would buy a collection of this size without first seeing it in person. He also could not believe Mr. Mawhinney could or would sell it without breaking it into lots.

"The way he's selling this collection makes no sense whatsoever," Mr. Fremer said. "I know these collectors. The jazz guys don't want the rock, the rock guys don't want the jazz, the LP guys don't want 45s, the 45 guys don't want LPs. To maximize your money, you could have the 45 lot, the vintage jazz lot, the Blue Note lot, the R&B lot, etc."

As for the bidder not seeing the collection, Mr. Henderson is surprised, too.

"From the day we put this on eBay, we said we'll arrange a private tour," he said. "If I were going to spend $3 million, I wouldn't mind spending a few hundred on a plane ticket.

"Even if [the collection] weren't what we said it was, it's still a steal at $3 million," he said.

Mr. Henderson said he was disappointed the collection didn't fetch a price closer to Mr. Mawhinney's estimated value. He added that the wave of international publicity this week spiked interest in the collection.

"In the 11th hour, we had some serious players who just heard about it. There were people in Toronto who wanted to open a museum, but were too late."

Mr. Mawhinney and Mr. Henderson are expecting a deposit from the bidder within 10 days followed by a closing within 30 days.

Record Rama remains open for business until then.

Scott Mervis can be reached at or 412-263-2576.


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