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Investors Scrambling To Buy Magic Johnson Memorabilia With AM-AIDS Definition, Bjt

November 14, 1991

Undated (AP) _ Magic Johnson memorabilia is disappearing off store shelves, and the reason seems to be money, not sentiment.

″There’s always people who want to capitalize on other people’s misfortune,″ said Bill Mastro, sports consultant for Sotheby’s, a New York City auction house. ″It’s just the nature of things. It’s a business.″

Mark Friedland, a 34-year-old sports collector from Aspen, Colo., had Johnson memorabilia in stock last Thursday when the Los Angeles Lakers star announced he was retiring because he had contracted the AIDS virus.

″People called us immediately. I sold everything that afternoon: uniforms, team balls. We sold at the price that then existed. We could have easily sold it at double or more,″ Friedland said. ″We feel it’s unconscionable to capitalize on his misfortune.″

He said uniforms Johnson wore in games had been selling for between $2,500 and $4,000.

″I think there are a lot of very sick people out there who are buying it predicated on the fact Magic Johnson will die, and as a consequence, the uniforms will be scarce,″ Friedland said.

At the Home Plate card shop in Charleston, W.Va., a Magic Johnson doll that had been in the store for a year sold within days of Johnson’s announcement. The store also sold every Magic Johnson card in stock.

″I haven’t heard anybody say, ’He’s my hero. I’m going to buy it because I feel sorry for him,‴ said store owner Bill Love. ″They’re buying it because they think it’s going to go up in value.″

Johnson merchandise also sold briskly at Pro Jersey in West Los Angeles.

″There’s one particular T-shirt people are buying,″ said sales representative Tanya Zelaya. ″It’s purple with gold lettering. It shows Johnson’s No. 32 jersey, shorts, socks and the ball lying on the bench in the locker room of the Forum. But there’s no image of Magic, just his uniform.

″That’s a beautiful T-shirt, it makes you cry,″ she said. ″I don’t want to be negative, but essentially, that’s what going to be left who knows when. Hopefully it takes a long time.″

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