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  Nowak's autograph, space memorabilia on eBay

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Author Topic:   Nowak's autograph, space memorabilia on eBay
Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-09-2007 03:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the Houston Chronicle:
quote:
Joachim Horvitz nearly threw out the glossy photo two weeks ago. Today, it's funding his 18-month-old son's college fund on the Internet auction site, eBay.

Last week, the signed NASA publicity still of Lisa Nowak was one of thousands NASA hands out each year to promote the space agency.

But that was last week, before Nowak &mdash the 43-year-old Naval Academy graduate and mother of three &mdash became the lead character in a bizarre news story that unfolded in Florida.

By late Thursday, the bidding for Horvitz's autographed Nowak photo was at $1,825.50, and there's four more days of bidding left.

...

Horvitz was hardly alone. By Thursday &mdash some 72 hours into the tale of Nowak's road trip from Houston to Orlando to confront a woman competing for the affections of another astronaut &mdash collectors of space memorabilia had rummaged through boxes and garages to upload all they had of Nowak on eBay.

Mission patches commemorating STS-121, the only space shuttle mission Nowak flew, were everywhere, selling for up to $10. Photos, like the one Horvitz had, were also available.


Continue reading Nowak photo rakes in profits on eBay

I wonder about the validity of this article's premise — that an increasing demand exists for Capt. Nowak-related memorabilia — and further, question the details provided to support its case.

A simple search of all categories on eBay, including their descriptions, for "Lisa Nowak" (without the quotes) returns less than 100 lots. By comparison, there are over 2,000 items listed in the space memorabilia category alone.

Of the 60 active Nowak lots, six have bids. (A search of completed auctions returns only four lots, none of which were successfully sold.)

The article cites two auctions: Joachim Horvitz's signed photo (item 320079982329) and Marci Halverson's signed newspaper (item 290081557272). Let's examine each:

  • Horvitz's signed photo is provided as the lead example presumably because the bidding has allegedly rose to more than $1800. I write "alleged" because even within the limits of eBay's new anonymous bidding system, we can see that the two highest bidders (Bidders 9 and 10) have never used eBay before and have only bid on this one lot. This should raise a serious flag, if not for shills then for fraudulent bidding.

    Even if valid however, given that the few other Nowak autographs offered have not shot up to similar levels — indeed, none of have yet to sell for more than $100 — this lot must then be considered a fluke, driven by the circumstances listed in the auction description or by outside influences (such as articles like the Houston Chronicle's).

  • Marci Halverson's signed newspaper appears to have been re-listed now three times. The first time, the auction ended at a sale price of $78.77 after just two bidders, but was cancelled because an included poster was damaged. The Houston Chronicle reports that on Thursday the (re-listed) auction had reached $152.50 however when we look it at now there is only the opening amount of $149.99 and zero bids.
The article further goes on to say:
quote:
Mission patches commemorating STS-121, the only space shuttle mission Nowak flew, were everywhere, selling for up to $10.
As I am sure everyone who reads this site is already aware, AB Emblem is not ceasing production of the STS-121 patch and it remains commercially available for $5 or less. A search of eBay's completed items for "STS-121 patch" (without the quotes) returns nine lots of which only one lists a $9.99 price (the others from $4 to $7). More importantly though, none of them sold.

Lastly, and in my mind of most paramount is journalist Terri Langworth's statement that...

quote:
...collectors of space memorabilia had rummaged through boxes and garages to upload all they had of Nowak on eBay.
I would suggest that the people listing Nowak-related items on eBay are not space memorabilia collectors, nor are they the (small) audience that is bidding on them. The majority of space memorabilia enthusiasts that I have come to know through running this site for seven years collect because they have a passion for space exploration and an admiration for those who make it possible. These few auctions run contrary to that spirit, regardless of what we each individually think of Ms. Nowak today.

I expressed some of my thoughts in an e-mail to Langworth at the Chronicle before composing this longer post, but I thought that the subject merited being shared and discussed. Another national newspaper is preparing to run a story on this topic for which I was interviewed, as I know was at least one other member of our community was the same. Hopefully, that article will help share a more accurate view of the hobby and market for space memorabilia, while at the same time debunk some of the myths about what is rare and what is in demand by collectors.

I am leaving this thread open to discussion however, a few ground rules: (1) this thread is not for the general discussion of Ms. Nowak's situation; (2) please do not link or paste URLs to eBay auctions — cite the item number as I have done so above instead; and (3) whether you agree or disagree, please use this forum to express your own opinion on the topic rather than criticize the opinion of the person(s) preceding you. Thank you.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 02-09-2007 05:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know about "increasing demand" but it's not hard to work out that buyers are motivated by:

* the knowledge that her space career is over and she will not therefore sign any more autgraphs, ie perceived/hyped limited supply. This could be space collectors who feear that they will never fill this gap in their collection, or non-space collectors.

* the cult of the celebrity. I imagine there are some people who will pride themsleves in having a signed photo of this unfortunate woman to show their friends. Clearly this is the non-space collector category.

Prices will subside once people have had their fill and the story has slipped into the background.

If this is what happens when misfortune strikes a relatively unknown astronaut I hate to think what people will dig up to sell when one of the Apollo astros passes away.

Paul

RMH
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posted 02-09-2007 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was blown away when I first saw the bidding price of the $1825 autograph, but it got me thinking that Lisa Nowaks autographed portraits might be some of the hardest (of the shuttle era) to get to put in the collection. She didn't respond through the mail, so that mostly leaves in person signatures. With this unfortunate incident I don't think she is likely to sign again. I have posted twice in the buy/sell/trade section for her autographed portrait (among others) and have asked several collectors that were selling off their collection and had no response. $1825 seems a bit absurd but I can't recall any other of Nowaks autographed portraits being on ebay until now.

dennisl
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posted 02-09-2007 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dennisl   Click Here to Email dennisl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I personally feel that something is not quite "right" about this auction mentioned, her autographed portrait has been a challenge for many shuttle autograph collectors. She has been difficult through the mail in later years of her career. I am sure that many are thinking that they may not be able to fill the hole in their collections. And now, you add in the curiosity collectors, so hers may rise in price for a little while. I had only previously seen her signed portrait on Ebay twice before. Both times those lithos went in the neighborhood of $75-$100.

Lifeexplorer
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posted 02-09-2007 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lifeexplorer   Click Here to Email Lifeexplorer     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
$10,000 and counting.
Makes the $6,000 I paid for STS 51-L sound like a bargain!
Fred

Steve Procter
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posted 02-09-2007 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Procter   Click Here to Email Steve Procter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I notice the item is listed under Space Exploration collectables -Shuttle Program, not Autographs(Space).

A couple of portraits on the latter are currently showing much more modest (!)bids.

Also a photo of the launch signed by 4 crew members including Nowak hasn't attracted a bid at all so far.

Steve

GACspaceguy
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posted 02-09-2007 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This was the same way after the Columbia tragedy; for example, flight patches went for over $20 when AB Emblem sold them all day long for $5. It is profit out of others pain and that is not right. Real collectors know that this flash in the pan and after a while it will settle out. Will her signed photo command more than others, probably yes due to the difficulty in obtaining one, but not the ridiculous price we see here. Obviously the bidders (if real) do not understand the value of this photo or any signed Astronaut photo and are bidding hoping to “cash in” at a future date. I am sure they are in for a rude awakening when that day comes about.

mjanovec
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posted 02-09-2007 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The bids may be $10k and counting, but I'll eat my hat if someone actually goes ahead and purchases the item for that price. With auctions for high profile cases, they attract a fair number of false bids from people just looking for a little attention.

I suspect the result of this will be a lot more Nowak signatures showing up (not to mention a good possibility of some forgeries showing up too). People who may have met Lisa at her public appearances and thought little of the autograph they (or their kids) might have received will suddenly jump on the bandwagon to try to make a few dollars while this story is still in the news. The end result might be several Nowak signatures selling for basically the going rate.

As a side note, I looked on Yahoo news last night to see what was in the headlines. I immediately saw the word Astronaut and thought it was the Nowak story. Turned out the headline was for the record breaking spacewalk. So yes, real NASA news does make the headlines!

LoneStarScouter
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posted 02-09-2007 02:01 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I went to the crew debrief in August and had my 121 crew photo and her portrait photo signed. I'm keeping both of mine. My portrait photo is not personalized, nor is my crew photo.

sixturners@cablespeed.com
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posted 02-09-2007 10:38 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not sure how everybody is going to respond to this, but I am going to say it anyway - I am amazed how quick people try to capitalize on negative things. Going on Ebay and seeing all the Lisa Nowak signed photos that everybody thinks are now priceless is kind of sad. I hope I don't offend too many people, but I think it shows our negative side quite clearly. This could be any of our family members that really blew it, in fact if we all think about it I am sure we do not have to look to hard to find friends of ours that have really messed up. It is just sad to see how quick everybody jumps to try to benefit from other peoples mess ups.....sad deal.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-09-2007 11:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Saturday (Weekend Journal) edition of the Wall Street Journal has a front page article about space memorabilia collectors in light of the Nowak-related eBay sales:
quote:
Astronaut's Arrest Lifts Space-Junk Market

When news broke about the arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak, auction Web sites started humming -- and stirring controversy among space memorabilia collectors. Within that small community there's a nasty split between purists and speculators.


The WSJ requires a subscription to read the full article online, but it provides the first few paragraphs of the 1000-word feature:
quote:
Fly Me to the Moon, Where I Can Make A Buck, or Two
by Dionne Searcey

When news broke about the arrest of astronaut Capt. Lisa Nowak for attempted murder, Internet auction sites started humming. "Hi space collectors!" reads Marci Halverson's eBay pitch. Ms. Halverson and her sister, who usually sell purses and shoes online, are hawking a July 18 Houston Chronicle with Capt. Nowak's signature.

Also up for grabs from other sellers: DVDs of Capt. Nowak's news conferences, a snow globe containing her photo and autographed items from another astronaut who was part of the love triangle.

All this makes Robert Pearlman unhappy. The founder of Collectspace.com, a Web site for space enthusiasts, decries the...


According to Searcey, interviews were conducted with astronauts Alan Bean and Jim Newman, historian James Hansen (First Man), Aurora's Victoria Campbell and space memorabilia collectors Scott Schneeweis and Steven Belasco, among others.

Shuttlefan
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posted 02-10-2007 02:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Shuttlefan   Click Here to Email Shuttlefan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sure, that is weird and someway disgusting, and I would never like to be part of such a mad bidding race, but there can be other reasons to long for her signature. My simple reason is that she has been in space and that her autograph is still missing in my collection. I wrote to her twice , I tried to buy her signature several times but did not succeed. I do not want to get Lisa Nowak because she has commited a crime but because she has been a successfull astronaut. The source of desire for a signature of Christa McAuliffe or Ilan Ramon is not any morbid speculation or fascination caused by their tragic death but simply because I am a collector and completion is one of the natural motives of collecting. My wish for Lisa´s signature has not get an inch higher since what happened now but I am just annoyed that I will now never never get it for a reasonable price.

SRB
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posted 02-10-2007 08:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What people rushing to buy Lisa Nowack's autograph seem to forget is that she is young and alive and, at some point in the future when the current situation is resolved, may very well again sign autographs. If she, like other "celebrities" that have had problems, goes on the lecture circuit some years from now, she'll sign a zillion more autographs. Actually, that might be a more healthly response in our society than becoming an embarrassed recluse. All this is pure speculation, but that is what the market is right now, speculation.

Steve

[Edited by SRB (February 10, 2007).]

Scott
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posted 02-10-2007 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott   Click Here to Email Scott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree, Steve. It is premature IMO to assume she will never again sign autographs. Recall that almost everyone wrote off Richard Nixon and Vanessa Williams at the lowest points in their respective lives. While Ms. Nowak's situation is very serious, it is too soon to predict what the future holds.

[Edited by Scott (February 10, 2007).]

Go4Launch
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posted 02-10-2007 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Go4Launch   Click Here to Email Go4Launch     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott and Steve are correct -- and one way to help pay for her legal expenses would be to charge for her autograph...

Steve Procter
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posted 02-10-2007 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Procter   Click Here to Email Steve Procter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh dear, we now have someone on e-bay looking for $500 for an STS-121 autopen.

Steve

fabfivefreddy
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posted 02-10-2007 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fabfivefreddy   Click Here to Email fabfivefreddy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nowak's autograph price will never be in the same league as Challenger and other shuttle astros.
This is a fad that will fade into the sunset.
Real collectors are not interested in this Nationl Enquirer type story. It is a ridiculous media circus that will end with the next "big story".


Tahir

John K. Rochester
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posted 02-10-2007 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John K. Rochester   Click Here to Email John K. Rochester     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did zip off a quick e-mail to the captain of the Garbage Scow that has the diapers out there..informing him that the only thing funny about the item was his numerous misspellings and severe lack of grammatical abilities......I obviously can not print his response, but rest assured he does know how to spell one four letter word very well!!

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 02-10-2007 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by John K. Rochester:
I did zip off a quick e-mail to the captain of the Garbage Scow that has the diapers out there..informing him that the only thing funny about the item was his numerous misspellings and severe lack of grammatical abilities......I obviously can not print his response, but rest assured he does know how to spell one four letter word very well!!

I didnt see a disclaimer in the add that it was not an item left by CAPT Nowak - The implication might be that its therefore evidence

------------------
Scott Schneeweis

URL http://www.SPACEAHOLIC.com/

[Edited by LCDR Scott Schneeweis (February 10, 2007).]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2007 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This link will expire within a week but for those who missed seeing today's paper and are not subscribers, you can read the Wall Street Journal article here.

mjanovec
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posted 02-10-2007 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone else see a potential book (and movie) deal for Nowak once the trial is over? If so, we may have a book-signing tour to look forward to. (I'm only half-joking here.)

zee_aladdin
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posted 02-11-2007 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for zee_aladdin   Click Here to Email zee_aladdin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By the way, the price on her famous Ebay Autograph has dropped back to $1825.00 from the original $10,000. So just as we all thought!

- Zee www.citizensofplanetearth.com

lunarrv15
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posted 02-11-2007 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for lunarrv15   Click Here to Email lunarrv15     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
see this ebay auction 140084033616

does the seller by chance really have an item left behind Ms Nowak? Would the diaper have a NASA logo on it?

poofacio
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posted 02-11-2007 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for poofacio   Click Here to Email poofacio     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ebay 120085253175. Not my sort of thing but if OK isn't dear!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-12-2007 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by zee_aladdin:
By the way, the price on her famous Ebay Autograph has dropped back to $1825.00 from the original $10,000. So just as we all thought!
This morning, the bids have been retracted to $63.99...

Cliff Lentz
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posted 02-12-2007 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What bothered me most in seeing all the items on ebay is that some of the items seem to be coming from NASA sponsored events. The photos from the Ellington field appearance was particularly disturbing. Maybe that event is open to the public but you would think that mostly NASA employees or their familes attend. The content of the descriptions for these autographs is also extremely offensive. From following collectSPACE every day I know that Lisa has been doing quite a few appearances since STS-121 so there must be a ton of autographed photos out there. Once the hearing or trial starts we'll have to look forward to more of this.

Cliff

RMH
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posted 02-12-2007 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It looks like Lisa Nowaks autograph isn't the only one going for high dollar. A Bill Oefelein BFS autographed litho ended on ebay (300078847094) for $153.50. And he WAS signing through the mail. It will be interesting to see what the different Nowak items end up selling for.

SCE to AUX
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posted 02-13-2007 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SCE to AUX     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
This morning, the bids have been retracted to $63.99...
Autograph dream fizzles

[Edited by collectSPACE Admin (February 13, 2007).]

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-13-2007 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SCE to AUX:
Autograph dream fizzles
After 30 bids, the final sale price was $371 to "marsonaut".

mjanovec
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posted 02-13-2007 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't help but breathe a sigh of relief in seeing that item not sell for $10k (or even $1800). A lot of the current astronauts are reluctant signers already. Seeing an item signed by Nowak sells for thousands wouldn't have helped the situation any. In the end, the true enthusiasts who collect out of love for the space program would have suffered the most.

The Nowak case appears to be dying away somewhat in the media, just because there is less new information to report. I expect we'll see another surge of interest as the trial nears, but hopefully we're past the crest of the first wave.

RMH
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posted 02-16-2007 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for RMH   Click Here to Email RMH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An autopen of Lisa Nowak sold for $103.50 (290081772777)and was described as an in person signature.
The most recent rookie bfs lithos have been selling around $150 with several more up for auction plus many of her in the OSS available as well.

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