Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"The World's Largest Record Collection up on Ebay for $3,000,000"

from pittsburghlive.com - by Regis Behe

Pine record collector selling 'history of music'

For sale: 3 million record albums and 300,000 CDs; rare and out-of-print titles, all varieties of American music from classical to hip-hop.

But it's much more than vinyl and jewel cases.

"It's the history of music," says Paul Mawhinney, the owner or Record Rama Sound Archives in Pine. "It's my life's work."

Mawhinney, 69, is reluctantly parting with a collection he started more than 40 years ago. Legally blind and fighting diabetes, he wants to spend more time with his five grandchildren.

The collection is worth millions of dollars -- Mawhinney's personal estimate is at least $50 million -- but he has received only one solid offer.

That bid of $28.5 million fell through. Other parties have shown interest, and Mawhinney says he continues to talk to a few interested parties. He has set of goal of selling the collection by March 1.

"I've had a lot of people that wanted it, but they don't have the right kind of capital," he says.

While Mawhinney's albums are a record collector's fantasy, they are beyond the financial reach of most vinyl enthusiasts. That's unfortunate, because there are a lot of desirable items, including:

• An unreleased, untitled Rolling Stones album of early singles. Originally recorded in mono, the songs were remastered in stereo for FM radio stations in the early 1970s. Mawhinney estimates the album is worth between $5,000 and $10,000.

• A rare original copy of Phil Spector's album "A Christmas Gift for You" that features Darlene Love, The Crystals and The Ronettes.

• 15 copies of the first edition of "Elvis' Christmas Album." Mawhinney says the original album, released in 1957, has a red gatefold cover and features Presley singing "Santa Claus Is Back in Town," "Blue Christmas" and 10 other seasonal songs. Estimated worth is $700.

Scott Neuman, president of Recordweb Communications LLC in Lakehurst, N.J., and owner of the online site www.forevervinyl.com, says Mawhinney is spot on with his evaluation of the collection. He agrees the Stones album -- especially if it is unopened -- could be valued at $10,000. "A Christmas Gift for You," in mint condition, could fetch between $700 and $800, and the Presley release might be worth as much as $1,000, Neuman says.

Without having inspected the collection, Neuman believes Mawhinney's estimate of its worth at $50 million "is pretty darn close," he says. "That sounds right."

Optimally, Mawhinney would like the collection to go to a major library or museum, or someplace that will keep it intact. He tried to contact local and national politicians about his dilemma, but he has not received any feedback.

"I can't seem to get any interest from the country in preserving this for history," he says. "I'm very concerned about that."

Regis Behe can be reached at 412-320-7990.

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