An occasional post for any interested observer of Life on Ebay. If you are not nosey like me, you might want to look away now, but you will miss a good story, and you could learn something useful along the way. Hello hello hello, what do we have here?
Three fine Blue Notes in NM condition offered for auction the other week, of which I tracked only the two shown below (the third being off my radar at the time)
The auction – on which I had one bid on the Reece – attracted stiff competition and a good financial result for the lucky seller. Or so it seemed…
I lost on the Reece, which slightly annoyed me at the time as I had my eye on it and had ventured over my house limit, but I fell some way short of its final selling price. I had to have a closer look to see what sort of bidding habit this XXL-bid winner had.
By a strange coincidence, the buyer of each was the same: z***j (private). I thought it odd he was a private listed buyer – no doubt one of those private secret island and personal submarine -type collectors, whose hedges are mainly gold.
The winner certainly had the hots for those Blue Notes, and had taken no chances to ensure they won. Their personal bid history was even more strange, not at all what I would have expected. I expected a 30 day bid history of twenty or thirty snipes, a battle-hardened seasoned collector, or three hundred plus – a dealer.The winner even beat the bid from my alter ego, the notorious TokyoJazzCollector, Disc Union, so their maximum must have been truly eye-watering.
The winner of all three Blue Note records had only bid on three records in the preceding 30 days, 100% all placed with – our Finnish seller. How cosy. That might have been that, but for a strange turn of event which followed shortly:
Each of the LPs turned up in my daily watch list, immediately and mysteriously relisted. At first I thought the winner must have reneged on the auction – one of those prank bidders that turn up sometimes, but it all happened too quickly – not the usual three weeks waiting for payment, the offer a second chance. They were relisted more or less instantly.
Relisted, but with a subtle difference to the first auction listing: See if you can spot it.
Having auction-tested the market to establish the worth of each record, they were put back immediately on the market at their auction final price, on a Buy It Now basis.
Now I wonder who the mysterious private buyer was?
Further, I wondered what sort of feedback our Seller from Finland had received in the past. Positive feedback: 100% Feedback score: 447. Everything seemed perfectly “legitimate”.
One final piece of the investigation remained: viewing all feedback. There I finally spotted what I had been looking for:
A serial re-lister. That’s a new one for the Annals of Psychology of Ebay Behaviour (working title for a book I might someday write: To Bid, Or Not To Bid, That Is The Question)
I am at something of a loss to understand the subterfuge and the circuitous intrigue. The Blue Note collectors who were disappointed the first time around can put their hands deeper in their pockets, there is still time. Has he broken any rules? Is it shill-bidding to bid up a sale – to yourself?
My guess is that there is not much else to do in the Hi Tech Park of Lappeenranta, Finland. Lappeenranta is apparently the International University City of Finland, and seems a really nice place. My guess is someone with an IQ certainly several multiples of mine has created an intellectually elegant way of maximizing the sale price of some quite desirable mint Blue Notes. If they exist at all that is. Those pictures of the jackets look worryingly unreal. Personally, I won’t be Buying it Now – too rich for me, but also altogether too improbable. Of course the story is not over yet. There may be more twists to come. Perhaps he is perfecting the technique. If you have any explanations I m curious to learn more. I have to say, there is never a dull moment on the world’s biggest and greatest market place.
Another of my favourite Record Shops in London has just closed, JB Records of Hanway Street, and another nearby still has virtually no jazz records for sale since earlier in the year a Chinese collector walked in and bought all 5,000 in one go, mostly low value reissues it should be said. So there are fewer and fewer alternatives to the friendly four letter word. Must dash now, I think it’s the postman at the door.
Mind how you go, and be careful out there.
Postscript 21:30 October 20, 2013
Oh dear. They seem to have blown it. It appears the Buy-it-Now ploy yielded no takers, at least this time around.
One of the problems with being very clever is that you think you know better than the market. The market is way smarter than you. In the heat of an auction, with several competing bidders, prices are spurred by competition: it’s you versus the other guys and you want to win. In the cold light of day, Buy It Now has no such spur, it’s just retail. Pricing is weaker, though auction is not without risk. Our friend is clearly not a psychologist.
May be it’s a long game. Or may be its not about selling records at all. It’s some other king of ploy. I watched an American seller the other years close a large number of auctions on his records at absurd prices, locked in with a “shadow bidder”. $800 on a commonly found Jimmy Smith? Who knows what the game was, certainly not selling records. Tax audits, money laundering, I don’t have the faintest idea. But you sometimes find what looks like one thing is actually another.
Keep watching this space.