There are many ways to dispose of a book collection, some good, some bad. Randy Lawrence has experienced both. He has seen his valuable comic book collection stolen, but then it was recovered and now he is selling it and achieving high returns. It has been a trying almost two years, but if all is well that ends well, then all is well.
Randy Lawrence began collecting comic books over 50 years ago, building one of the finest Batman collections in existence. The value has been estimated at $2 million. He called it the Alfred Pennyworth Collection, “Alfred Pennyworth” being a pseudonym he used to keep his identity confidential. He kept his collection in a storage unit in Boca Raton, Florida, where he lives. That was where in early January of 2019, a thief entered the unit through the roof and made off with Lawrence's collection. Half a century worth of work was gone in an instant.
The pain must have been enormous for Lawrence. He has described his collection as being almost like children. And then there was another factor to make it even more painful. The comic books were not insured.
Finding stolen books can take a long time, or they may never be found. Lawrence was facing a bleak future. However, almost as suddenly as the books were gone, he got a break in the case. Only a couple of days later, Phillip Weisbauer of nearby Royal Palm Beach entered a comic book shop in Mesa, Arizona, with four valuable comic books to sell. He must have assumed that no one so far away from Palm Beach County would know anything about the theft and he could safely sell them. He assumed wrong. Comic book sellers, like regular booksellers, have a network, and one of the owner's of the Mesa store checked with his contacts and discovered the comics had been stolen. Weisbauer was told to come back in a few days to complete the deal and when he did police were waiting.
Unfortunately, the wheels of justice turn slowly and Lawrence did not immediately get his comics back. It took more like a year and a lawyer to get them back. Once he did have them again, Lawrence decided it was time to figure out what he was going to do with the collection. He chose the safest way to protect his investment. He put them up for sale and let someone else worry about the issue of security. So, he contacted Heritage Auctions and this past November 19-21, they included the Alfred Pennyworth Collection as part of a larger comic book sale they were holding. Lawrence, wisely, cashed out.
The highest price paid from Lawrence's collection went to a Batman No. 2 from 1940. It sold for $63,000. That would have been a great investment as the cover price was 10 cents. If you're wondering, that's a 63 million percent return. However, this was not the high point of the auction, as another Batman comic achieved the highest price ever for a comic book at Heritage Auctions and the highest price ever for a Batman comic. That went to Detective Comics No. 27 published in 1939. That is the one that introduced the Batman character to the world. That one sold for $1.5 million. That, too, had a 10 cent cover price, providing a 1 billion 500 million percent return. However, Batman is not the all-time king of comics. That honor still goes to Superman, whose first appearance in Action Comics No. 1 took in $3.2 million in 2014.