World’s Rarest Stamp, Sold for $ 8.3 Million, Will Become Digital Asset, Buyer Says

A penny postage stamp printed in a British colony under Queen Victoria will soon become a fractional-owned digital collectible available for the first time, its new owner said Tuesday.

Collectible stamp retailer Stanley Gibbons Ltd. bought the 165-year-old British Guiana One-Cent Magenta for $ 8.3 million at a Sotheby’s auction on Tuesday.

Although “the underlying technology that [shall] the use is probably not finalized yet, the concept is to do something… so that a much wider audience can, in theory, have ownership, “said Graham Elliott Shircore, Gibbons CEO.

The publicly traded company announced that it had purchased the rare stamp over a phone connection at the Sotheby’s auction.

Shoe mogul Stuart Weitzman, who bought the Magenta in 2014 for $ 9.5 million, sold it and two other pieces to raise money for his family’s charitable foundation and other philanthropic activities.

“[T]The day truly marked the culmination of a life’s work. I am delighted that the proceeds from the sale help support a number of charitable causes and educational endeavors that are near and dear to me, ”Weitzman said in a statement released by the auction house.

The Magenta was expected to fetch between $ 10 and $ 15 million at auction. Tuesday’s winning bid of $ 8.3 million represented a 13% decrease from its purchase price in 2014.

Some observers said seven years was too short an interval for Magenta to return to the auction block; others criticized Sotheby’s, which lacks a stamp department, and suggested that a specialized stamp auctioneer would have made more money.

Mr. Weitzman had previously said that his children did not want to keep the Magenta or the other two “treasures” at auction: a 1933 US “Double Eagle” gold coin, the only one in private hands; and a block of four “Inverted Jenny” United States airmail stamps, mistakenly including attached marginal paper printed with the number of a printing plate used in production.

The “Double Eagle” coin sold for just under $ 18.9 million, topping an estimate of $ 10 million to $ 15 million. Its buyer was not disclosed by Sotheby’s.

Billionaire DC-area philanthropist David M. Rubenstein purchased “Inverted Jenny,” a one-of-a-kind collectible that launched in 1918, for $ 4.9 million.

The Carlyle Group, the stock management firm co-founded by Rubenstein, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans for the rare stamps. One insider noted that Mr. Rubenstein has “a long history of involvement with the Smithsonian,” the operator of the National Postal Museum.

Shircore, the Stanley Gibbons executive, said the firm was “obviously happy to own” the Magenta, whose storied past has included eccentric and iconoclastic owners, but never a public company. He would not call the $ 8.3 million price a “bargain” but instead said that it is “worth what someone is willing to pay on the day” of an auction.

He added that the stamp, which was on display at the National Postal Museum on loan from Mr. Weitzman from June 4, 2015 to December 22, 2019, will arrive in London shortly and will be on display at the firm’s 399 Strand. . showroom “in a relatively small number of weeks. … The sooner we can make it accessible to a wider audience, the better ”.

Now comes the task of designing a digital property mechanism and its execution.

Mr. Shircore said the firm is “very interested in moving as quickly as possible. With the understanding that everything we offer to our clients has to be excellent. Therefore, I have no interest in doing something next week that leaves people disappointed. “

Don Sundman, a veteran postage stamp dealer whose Mystic Stamp Company in Camden, New York, owned the Inverted Jenny Plate Block from 2005 to 2014.

“I think whoever bought it will be very happy in five, 10 years,” Sundman said in a telephone interview. “I’m kicking myself for not signing up to bid. There are many ‘Jennies’ but only one plate block, and the stamp [images] they are so well centered. “

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