As you know, I have been reporting for years now on the prices of trading cards and how crazy the auction prices have gotten; now, it seems that all may not be as it appeared. Last week the news broke that PWCC, one of the largest auctioneers of trading cards, has had its selling privileges restricted on eBay for shill bidding. Shill bidding (a form of fraud) is when someone artificially increases the price during an auction; this can happen by the seller enlisting the help of friends, family, or associates to bid on an item without the intent to buy it. Recent reports claim that individuals (possibly employees) associated with the trading card auctioneer placed bids to drive up prices.
It is believed that PWCC generated $200 million in sales last year through the eBay platform. With the removal of close to 18,000 items listed by PWCC, there will be a lot of room for competitors to jump in, although PWCC will launch monthly premier auctions on their own site – I’m sure everyone will trust that.
Of course, PWCC claims that they have done nothing wrong and plan on fighting the allegations, but this is not the first scandal for the auctioneer. The FBI has been investigating PWCC since 2019, which involves allegations that they have been ‘trimming’ cards to increase the grading, which effectively would increase interest and prices on the trading card. If any or both allegations are proven to be accurate, I believe they could seriously damage the collectible trading card industry.
On somewhat of another note, a couple of weeks ago, a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for a record-setting $5.5M ($6.6M including the premium). The previous record was held by a 1952 Mickey Mantle card that sold for $5.2 this past January, and that price was matched in April when a LeBron James card sold. PWCC brokered the sale for the last two cards but did not sell the Honus Wagner card; that was sold by Robert Edwards Auctions, which specializes in sports memorabilia.