Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2019 Issue

A Major Break in the Case of a $1.4 Million Comic Book Theft

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Mugshot of alleged comic book thief Phillip Weisbauer.

Police got a major break in a large comic book theft case in Palm Beach, Florida, when a man walked into a comic book shop near Phoenix with four of the almost 450 missing comics. Sometime between Nov. 28, 2018, and January 8, 2019, the large collection of comics was stolen from the storage unit of Randy Lawrence of Palm Beach. Lawrence had been collecting them for a lifetime. They were both a love and a retirement nest egg. Then, when he recently checked the unit, he found they were gone. The locks were intact, but evidently the thief had entered the unit from above.

 

This was not an ordinary collection. It included early Batman and other highly valuable comics. The collection has been estimated to be worth $1.4 million.

 

The man who walked in to the Phoenix area comic book shop was Phillip Weisbauer (or Philipp Wiesbauer) of Royal Palm Beach, Florida. His residence being in close proximity to the missing comic collection, despite attempting to sell them in Mesa, Arizona, is not believed to be a coincidence by authorities. Rather, they believe he probably thought that selling stolen comics so far away from where they were taken would make it unlikely anyone would realize the connection. If so, he was wrong.

 

Comic book sellers, like those who sell regular books, have a network of contacts and look out for each other. While ordinary comics, like ordinary books, might readily pass through shops without anyone knowing the difference, valuable ones cannot. They are rare, and a comic book dealer, on being offered one, will immediately inquire about its background. If it comes from a known collector, or someone involved in the field, the dealer may be confident in its history. If, as here, an unknown 30-year-old man carrying a duffel beg comes in with four comics valued at almost $100,000, the warning lights are going to start flashing. This was not someone who bought these comics when he was young, nor did he have the appearance of a person likely to legitimately own such comics. One of the owners of Gotham City Comics of Mesa reached out to his contacts in the business, who informed him the four Batman comics Weisbauer was offering had indeed been stolen from Palm Beach.

 

This is not the type of sale one concludes on the spot, so when Weisbauer returned a few days later to haggle on the price, Gotham City was ready for him. Police were informed, and they followed Weisbauer back to a residence in nearby Fountain Hills. He was arrested and placed in custody. Weisbauer later raised bail.

 

This is not yet the conclusion of the story. There are still 445 comics valued at $1.3 million missing. Lawrence expressed a willingness to be forgiving toward Weisbauer, but only if the remaining missing comics are returned. Weisbauer obtained those four comics somewhere, and undoubtedly has an idea where the others can be found. It's time for a conversation.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Abraham Lincoln Endorsement Signed, March 16, 1865. Framed with a lithograph of Lincoln by Dwight C. Sturges.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Thomas Edison Stunning Signed Portrait.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Franz Liszt Signed Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Subscription for Portraits of the Presidents Signed by J. Q. Adams, Polk, Jackson, Buchanan, and Writers Dickens, Bryant and More!
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Vinson Supreme Court Signed Presentation Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Collection of Three Financial Items.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Rare Sigmund Freud ALS Related to Sexual Issues.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> New York Yankees team signed baseball c.1937 including Gehrig, DiMaggio, Dickey, Gomez and others.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Salvador Dali Original Drawing in <i>Dali</i> by David Larkin.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Charles Wilson Peale, Association Miniature of Dr. Ebenezer Crosby after Charles Willson Peale. Gouache on ivory miniature attributed to Peale.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> William McKinley Signed Oversize Photograph Incredible 20"x24".
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Margaret Mitchell Signed <i>Gone With The Wind</i> -- First Edition.
  • <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> [Paine, Thomas]. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America… Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776. $200,000 to $250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph letter signed, to Joshua Reed Giddings, 21 May 1860. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Oakley, Annie. <i>A Brief Sketch of Her Career and Notes on Shooting.</i> [N.p.]: ca. 1913, Signed. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Washington, George. One autograph letter signed & 3 letters signed to General Alexander McDougall, September 1777. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Mather, Cotton. <i>The Wonders of the Invisible World. Being an account of the tryals of several witches...</i> London: 1693. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> James, Benjamin.<i><br>A Treatise on the Management of the Teeth.</i> Boston, 1814. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.

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