Joel Platt almost died at the age of 4.
“In 1943, I put a lit match into a car’s gas tank,” Platt, now 82, told The New York Post.
During his recovery, Platt dreamed of being visited by Babe Ruth thanks to baseball cards his parents bought him when he was bedridden for over a year.
“My parents bought me baseball cards and my favorite was Babe Ruth. I had a dream in which the Babe visited me and said, ‘Kid, don’t give up. You can get better and someday be a major league baseball player or build an international hall of fame for sports immortal heroes and greats.’”
In 1995, Platt’s dream eventually turned into a reality after years of collecting rare sports memorabilia he obtained through rather insane circumstances. Platt opened the Sports Immortals Museum in Boca Raton, Florida, home to one of the greatest sports memorabilia collections in the world.
Among Platt’s most prized possessions are Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” championship belt, a signed Michael Jordan jersey from 1984, a signed Johnny Unitas jersey, a signed Wilt Chamberlain jersey, and one of Jackie Robinson’s bats from 1949.
The stories behind Platt’s collection are even more amazing than the actual memorabilia. For example, he. explained to The Post how he obtained the signed Jordan jersey for almost nothing thanks to a relationship with a former NBA player.
Maurice Lucas, a power forward who played on eight different NBA teams (including the Knicks in 1981-’82), grew up in Pittsburgh and used to shoot baskets at night on a half-court that Platt had built behind his Steel City home.
Platt even lent his Cadillac to the kid for senior prom.
The favors paid off: “I would tell Maurice what I needed and, when he played against a particular team, he would ask the equipment manager or player for the item,” Platt recalled.
Lucas got him Jordan’s signed, game-used 1984 Bulls jersey. “Jordan was a rookie that year and projected to be the next great one.
The Sports Immortals Museum has been closed since the start of Covid but being the shrewd businessman that he is, Platt figured out a way to still make money during the pandemic. He started selling “shares” of his memorabilia to collectors through IPOs for individual items on the sports-memorabilia investment site Collectable.com.
The Post explains how the deal works, saying:
“For Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” championship belt, one of two known to be in circulation, Collectable sold 12,800 shares, at $10 a pop — generating $128,000. (Collectable valued the belt at $428,000 and Platt kept 30,000 shares.)
According to Ezra Levine, CEO of Collectable, “The IPO sold out, but shares have begun trading, at prices based on investor demand, via a secondary market [on the site] — similar to that of Wall Street. It’s one way for investors to realize profits.” An item can begin trading on the site, he said, 90 days after its IPO sells out.
A second way to cash in comes when an item sells and profits are divided among share-holders.
The items mentioned earlier in this article all went up through IPOs over the last few months. The Ali belt IPO sold out in 24 hours, the Jordan IPO sold out in under 15 minutes, the Unitus IPO sold out in 10 minutes and Chamberlain sold out in 15 minutes.
If you want to get in on the next item of the Platt collection, head over to Collectable.com.
[via New York Post]