Jenner Olympic Torch fetches $24,000 at auction
NEW YORK (AP) — The 1984 Summer Olympic Torch that Bruce Jenner carried through Lake Tahoe, Nevada, sold for just under $24,000 at an auction of sports memorabilia Thursday.
The 24-inch Olympic torch was the first major piece of Jenner memorabilia to go to auction since the winner of the 1976 Olympic Decathlon Gold Medal became Caitlyn Jenner. It had a presale estimate of $20,000.
The seller was Bob Lorsch, a Los Angeles philanthropist and entrepreneur who orchestrated the Tahoe leg of the torch relay and secured Jenner’s participation.
“This torch serves as a wonderful symbol that masculinity and femininity are not mutually exclusive,” said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at the Dallas-based auction house. “The decathlon has long been considered the ultimate athletic proving ground. Jenner has played both gender roles masterfully.”
Jenner was approached to carry the torch as part of the Los Angles Summer Olympic Games to help support Caesars Tahoe’s agenda of giving back to the local community and promoting area youth programs, Lorsch said. The hotel casino held a drawing for a chance to win a place in the relay and sponsored 50 kilometers, or about 31 miles, of the Nevada route. Seven kilometers went to individuals and 42 to local organizations. Jenner was asked to run the remaining kilometer.
“Caesars saw it as a tremendous opportunity ... to do something more special, never realizing that we would be creating what is truly a piece of history that originated as a piece of sports history, then evolved as a piece of entertainment history through the Kardashian legacy and becoming a cultural phenomenon through the transition to Caitlyn,” Lorsch said.
Better known to a younger generation as the patriarch on TV’s “Keeping up With the Kardashians,” Jenner announced earlier this year that he was transitioning to become a woman.
The torch, which was purchased by an anonymous Midwest collector, was among the highlights of the auction held by Heritage Auctions in Chicago.
A circa 1860s Brooklyn Atlantics team baseball card that had been in the same family for over 150 years sold to an anonymous buyer for more than $179,000, easily surpassing its presale estimate of $50,000.
The seller of the pre-Civil War baseball card was Florence Sasso, of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The card shows her great-great-uncle Archibald McMahon, an outfielder for the squad, pictured with eight of his teammates in bib-style shirts and two gentlemen in suits.
“My mother gave it to me about 25 years ago,” the 75-year-old Brooklyn native said in an interview last month. “We had my grandfather’s bedroom set, which had secret drawers, and she kept it there. ... She gave it to me because no one else wanted it.”
The Atlantics were a founding member of the National Association of Base Ball Players — the sport’s first organized league that held the championship from 1859 through 1861.
The card is a photograph mounted on a 2½-inch-by-4-inch cardboard, probably taken in a Brooklyn photo studio. An undated newspaper clipping pasted to the back lists the players’ names.
“It’s one of the seminal cards from the beginning of the game,” Ivy said. “The fact that it’s got a direct link to a member of the team and has been in the same family for over 150 years is very interesting.”
The only other known example of the card is in the private collection of Corey Shanus, a Westchester County real estate developer and noted collector of 19th-century baseball memorabilia who acquired his card about 15 years ago in a trade of other memorabilia.
“The Brooklyn Atlantics was the dynasty team of the 1860s. ... It’s the infancy of baseball,” Shanus said.
Among the other players depicted on the card is Richard “Dickey” Pearce, who went on to become one of the first professional baseball players credited with pioneering the shortstop position and inventing the bunt.