As a collector, there is nothing like the hunt to find a rare treasure. Going to comic book conventions and comic book stores to find rare pieces and adding to your collection really satisfying. That kind of accomplishment warrants bragging for sure. Why wouldn’t you want to share your spoils with the world? While showing off can be super fun, there’s a dark side to being too open with people about exactly what you have gathered.
Recently, blastr.com reported that Rancho Obi-Wan, which is a non-profit museum and one of the largest private collections of Star Wars memorabilia, had over $200,000 worth of collectibles stolen. This included a rocket-firing Boba Fett, which is a holy grail for any Star Wars collector! The biggest surprise to owner, Steve Sansweet, was that the culprit was a trusted friend.
The friend had been pocketing figures over several months and reselling them. Thankfully, Sansweet had a detailed catalog of every piece in the collection. Knowing exactly what was taken has helped recover some of the more rare items, including the rocket-firing Boba Fett. Phew! Unfortunately, some of the pieces may never be recovered and Sansweet will be burdened with trust issues in the future.
When I first read this article I immediately thought that this could happen to anyone. A collector spends their time and money to curate a collection. They get excited and want to share this with everyone who is willing to see. Then someone seizes an opportunity to take advantage of this. And the collector is left with a hole on our shelves and our ability to trust. Some may want to retreat but I don’t think keeping your collection completely private from people is the right answer. So how can we as collectors protect ourselves?
Keeping good track of exactly what you have is truly the best weapon to protect yourself. We may never be able to replace certain items when they have been taken but you can get justice by being able to prove that item was yours! This tedious and time-consuming process could ultimately be your saving grace when you’ve noticed something is missing.
In my previous articles, I have explained why cataloging your collection is important along with how software can help you catalog. An app like Gemr is great because there is proof the minute you upload a new item to your online collection. Even if you decide that you are not one to be so public there is still great value in cataloging what you have by using software like Google Drive. Whatever method works for you, every collector should get in the habit of doing it. You never know who may be just waiting for an opportunity to strike.
Luckily, Sansweet had the means to prove what was taken belonged to the museum and his collection. With this proof, some of the pieces have been recovered and his insurance policy will help to compensate for the rest. This helps fill the holes on his shelves and I hope the hole in his trust. His story will hopefully be a warning to collectors out there that cataloging your collections is a practice we should all incorporate as part of collecting.
Steve Sansweet still needs help recovering a few items, please visit this link to see the items and how you can help him.