The Thrill of the Hunt at a NYC Estate Sale


When in the wild as a picker, there is nothing more exciting (while simultaneously frustrating) than an estate sale. In all honesty, I personally hate them. The thought of waking up at 2:00am or even camping out the day before to be first in line is grueling to me. I’m also the type of guy that needs a shower every morning to function so you can see why the thought of this is so mentally taxing to me. But once in a blue moon, there is a rare case that makes it all worth it.

Earlier this month, a good friend and trusted picker received a tip on a New York state ordered estate sale in Manhattan for the contents of an apartment. The contents included an entire room filled with comics and original comic art, all to be sold as one group. There were several other things in the home, but the comics were the main attraction. Right now, you might be questioning what “New York state ordered” means. Unfortunately, the gentleman who owned this apartment and collection passed with no family, friends, or anybody else listed as heir to his estate. When this happens the court intervenes, and everything is sold off to benefit the city and/or state. That’s the background of the collection as we know it, now here is the story of what happened.

Whenever you enter into a situation like this, you are essentially buying a lottery ticket. Prior to the estate sale opening, there were only seven photographs showing the volume of the collection, with a few boxes undone to give an idea of the contents. In this case, those seven photographs were enough to show this collection would be worth the early morning effort! My buddy (who lives in western Connecticut) left his house Friday at 7:00am to reach the upper west side of Manhattan by noon and to hold a spot in line 24 hours before the sale opened. With him securing our position we knew we had a decent chance of obtaining the collection – we were determined!

Kevin and I left Rhode Island at 3:30am Saturday to be in Manhattan for 6:30am, so we could join my friend in line and be right in the door for 8:00am. By the time we got there, dozens of people were waiting. Once the door opened, we had to make an offer on the collection and pay for it before we could even look at one comic book! It’s not like this was a $100 gamble, more like a $24,000 one. Imagine that pressure! We weren’t the only people there for the comics either, so we knew our offer had to be a good one – and yes, it was accepted!

Despite how intense the whole experience sounds, it was honestly the most exhilarating moment workwise in a very long time. The worst part was I even didn’t get to look at the comic books even after paying, we were under time constraints and had to load the van and get out of New York. Kevin and I were back in Rhode Island by 1:00pm - What a day!

Fast forward two weeks when we finally had time to sort the collection and we pulled out 114 key issues for grading, along with original published artwork from Ghost Rider, Lois Lane, and other D.C. and Marvel Comics! We haven’t sold a thing yet, but it looks like the fruits of our labor will be totally worth it. What a rush!


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