Moneymaker: J. Dilla Personal Records
We’ve mentioned a couple of times before that there are certain items we feel weird about reselling, either because the items are arguably creepy or culturally sensitive. I recently found myself in another one of these situations…
A local record store bought an abandoned storage unit (a la Storage Wars) that was filled with thousands of vinyl records. The purchase was seemingly unremarkable, as this is a common way for record stores to bulk up their inventory at a low upfront cost. Turns out, though, that these records comprised the personal collection of legendary hip hop producer J. Dilla, who was best known for his work with A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes and Common. Dilla died in 2006 at the age of 32 from suspected lupus.
The record store began sorting through the records and placing them in small quantities on their shelves. They marked the records with stickers indicating which ones had belonged to Dilla. In a matter of days, the store was inundated with calls and social media commentary from Dilla fans, many of whom were outraged that the store was selling the records without tracking down Dilla’s family first. As fast as they appeared, the records were pulled off the shelves.
As it turns out, Zach had bought a couple of these records for his own collection. Our curiosity got to us pretty quickly and we decided to list one of the records on ebay just to see what it would sell for. We started the auction at $14.99, the price Zach paid for it. Here’s how things ended up:
We definitely were NOT expecting that. The auction blew up in the final minute, jumping from $60 to $180.
So since Zach is saving up for a super baller watch, we decided to list more of the records. It went pretty well.
The key here is that we were the beneficiaries of dumb luck. Zach happened to buy some of these records before they were pulled off the shelves, and for whatever reason, we were the only ones who thought to put them on ebay. At some point, the records will be re-released by the record store, and since there are 8,000 records in total, there is no way they will garner such high prices again. Totally right place, right time.