New York has no shortage of record collectors. From the aged veteran music archivist to the incoming college freshman looking to put that Bruce Willis album on their dorm wall, we’re a city of vinyl. So when a groundbreaking record discovery is uncovered, word travels fast. Fans have been known to spend hours upon hours digging in the crates looking for that great find.
Well, it looks like you missed two big ones, ya goof!
OK, perhaps that’s a little harsh, but it’s tough love. A love that comes with an incredible story that’s every collector’s dream find.
Academy Records’ Cory Felerman was looking through a record collection on the street outside a bodega on First Avenue owned by a former record store owner. He’d been selling there for a few days, meaning many fingers had riffled through his collection. What they missed was a Yoko Ono “Open Your Box” 45 of which only six copies are known to exist. Pressed at Ono’s request either for her, someone in the Beatles, or someone at Apple, it sold for $1,703.99.
Not bad for a bodega record find.
As if that weren’t enough, Stonewall’s original self-titled Tiger Lily tax-scam release, one of the rarest, most sought-after albums in existence, made its eBay debut as part of Academy Records’ latest auction as well. For the unfamiliar, Tiger Lily was a label run by Genovese-connected NYC mogul Morris Levy. The legend goes he’d allegedly press albums from unknown bands, never release them, mark them as unsold, and collect the tax write-off. The rarest of these, Stonewall, had previously sold for $5,000.
It had never been on eBay before.
It was purchased for $1.00 at a New Hampshire Goodwill.
It sold for $14,100 and became one of the most-watched items on eBay, a rare feat for a record.
While these two incredible finds may inspire some to revive the hunt for vinyl, it’s important to remember such albums are incredibly rare. As Academy Records’ Mike Davis told us, “I feel like most thrift-store operations already has someone filtering through the records before they ever hit the racks. These days it’s extremely rare to find a record like that in that environment. A lot of Salvation Army records aren’t a dollar anymore; sometimes they have collector pricing.”
Academy Records has locations in Brooklyn and the East Village that daily see people selling record collections, but even with such an influx of items, the Stonewall album is the biggest-selling record Davis has ever sold. “Before that, the most valuable record I sold was $4,000, so it’s a pretty big jump.”
While sales of major rarities like these usually happen behind closed doors in collector channels, Davis wanted to see what would happen with a real auction. While Stonewall was rumored in the past to have appeared on eBay and then been quickly taken down due to private offers, this was the first time the album’s been in an eBay auction with proper completion. “I don’t think I would have had the courage to ask $14,000 for it. I would have maybe asked for $8-$10.”
The winners of both, while anonymous, are known collectors. Truthfully, knowing records like this are still out there, in a way, we’re all winners.