Ken Goldin Explains the ‘Irrational, Unsustainable’ Collectibles Boom

The newly minted Netflix reality TV personality predicts 2023 will be a "scale-back year" for sports memorabilia and collectibles.

Middle aged white man in suit poses on premiere carpet
Ken Goldin at the premiere of King Of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Goldin.

Ken Goldin, the founder and CEO of Goldin Auctions, an auction house starring in a new Netflix show, claims the Covid-19 pandemic created a never-before-seen boom in the memorabilia market.

“The momentum had been building slowly from 2012 to 2019; Covid just dumped gallons of gasoline on it,” said Goldin while speaking on the Front Office Sports podcast.

His New Jersey-based auction house, which specializes in sports memorabilia, saw its sales increase to $100 million in 2020 from $28 million in 2019. Meanwhile, Goldin Auctions’ founding year in 2012 saw $800,000 worth of business. The sports collectible market as a whole, valued at $26 billion in 2021, is estimated to reach $227 billion by 2032.

During the industry boom, Goldin Auction received $40 million in a funding round led by the Chernin Group, headed by CEO Peter Chernin, which saw investments from Mark Cuban and Kevin Durant. AIn July 2021, the auction house was sold to Collectors Holding, a group led by New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, hedge fund executive Dan Sundheim and venture capital investor Nat Turner.

Goldin, who continues to run Goldin Auctions as an independent business, is now the focus of King of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch, a six-episode reality show premiering on Netflix today (April 28) that will follow the business of buying and selling memorabilia and see cameos from celebrities such as Drake, Peyton Manning and Mike Tyson.

“I think it’s going to be a huge hit,” Goldin told Front Office Sports. “It’s something people really have never seen.”

Who is Ken Goldin?

Before founding the auction house, Goldin started up another sports memorabilia business in the 1980s with his father Paul. The two created Score Board, which signed players like Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio to autograph contracts, and later sold their items at markup. After leaving the business in 1997, Goldin took a position handling marketing for baseball agent Scott Boras.

Goldin conducted his first memorabilia deal at the age of 12 when he traded an electric car set for a sports card collection, he told Front Office Sports. “Throughout my teen years, I was buying and selling baseball cards.”

Sports cards saw a rise in production and value during the 1980s, according to Goldin, in part due to the emergence of trading card company Upper Deck, which began releasing high-end cards.

But by the mid-1990s, the industry dried up after a Major League Baseball (MLB) strike, and strikes in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL).

Manufacturers had to become more creative, said Goldin, with some introducing limited-edition collectibles. “That’s what really developed into the trading card market we have today.”

While Covid led to an unprecedented spike in memorabilia value and demand, with cards previously worth 5,000 in 2019 suddenly selling for 50,000, Goldin said the boom shouldn’t be taken for granted. “That was an irrational, unsustainable spike.”

Trading card manufacturers who “were fooled into thinking that is the true market” raised their production levels in 2022 to meet demands of 2021, said Goldin, adding that much of their product sat on shelves for the first time. “I think 2023 and onward is going to be a scale-back year.”

Ken Goldin Explains the ‘Irrational, Unsustainable’ Collectibles Boom