Gary Player’s final Master’s trophy is up for auction - and at R1.3m, it’s still going relatively cheaply
- Several trophies won by SA golfing legend Gary Player are currently up for auction.
- Although some are replicas, his original 1978 Master's trophy holds special appeal.
- And at its current bid of just over R1 million, it might still be considered a bargain.
- For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.
Trophies won by South African golfing legend Gary Player are currently up for auction on a US memorabilia auction website.
Among the collection are eight trophies, including originals and certified replicas, from Player’s Major Championships, which auctioneers Golden Age call “the most important golf trophies to ever hit the auction block”.
The eight auction lots include trophies from all four of the Major Championships that make up the Grand Slam that Player famously completed. There are also four Senior Major Championship trophies available.
“To put this in perspective, in the entire history of sports memorabilia auctions (ours and all others), not only have these trophies never been offered at the same time, many of these trophies have never been offered for sale at all,” Golden Age said.
Given the rarity of the items, the company is hoping that they’ll fetch record amounts. Many of the trophies in this collection were previously sold to a private collector for “charitable causes”, but this is the first time the general public can bid to own them individually or as a set.
Golden Age has now made them available for individual purchase, but says they would prefer the collection to remain in tact and be made available for public viewing.
“Outside the homes of Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods, it’s hard to imagine a more complete collection of Major trophies ever being assembled together again,” the company said.
The auction, which runs online for the next week, has already attracted some sizeable bids, and keeping the collection in tact will require a bidder with relatively deep pockets - particularly if the in-demand trophies meet prices set by similar memorabilia in the past.
Player’s original 1978 Masters Tournament trophy is the auction’s flagship item - it had at last count attracted 24 bids to a value of just under R1.4 million.
The trophy was awarded to Player for his third and last Master’s Tournament victory - and it’s an item likely filled with nostalgia. To win the tournament he had to famously overcome a seven stroke deficient to win by one, and he later called it one of his sweetest victories.
Given the earning potential of modern golfers, Golden Age argues that this might be one of a few Masters trophies that will reach the public.
“Only a scant few Masters Tournament trophies have ever become available, and will ever become available,” the company says. “In the ensuing decades, perhaps two or three collectors in the world will ever have the chance to own an official Masters Tournament trophy.”
In spite of the apparent rarity and nostalgia attached to the trophy, the current bidding price is remarkably low compared to what others like it have fetched in recent years.
In 2016, one of Arnold Palmer’s Masters trophies sold for more than R6 million on auction. Two years ago, Sam Snead's 1954 Master’s trophy sold for about R5 million.
If these are a little bit on the expensive side, though, the other lots are somewhat cheaper - although many are scale replicas of less significant moments.
A scale model of Player’s 1974 Open Championship Claret Jug has received 17 bids to a total of just under R650,000; and a scale model of his 1965 US Open Championship trophy is third in line at R486,000.
Golden Age is also selling an official large scale trophy from his 1972 PGA Championship win - which is currently sitting at just over R400,000.
Player’s four seniors tournament trophies have attracted less interest, each with single figure bids up to a maximum of R123,000 each.
This isn’t the first time Gary Player memorabilia has been auctioned off. In 2002 he sold his 1961 Masters green jacket for more than $5m - which, adjusted for inflation, is in excess of R200 million today.
At the time, auction house Christie’s said they were also looking to sell 300 additional items spanning Player’s career as a single collection to avoid it becoming dispersed.
There’s also no shortage of items for Player to sell, either. Now 85, he began his professional golfing career in 1953 - and went on to win 167 professional tournaments. He’s also one of only five men to win the Grand Slam, and is considered one of golf’s greats.
But his career has not been without controversy. In the 1960s Player openly supported Apartheid, and was targeted with protests given his endorsement of the government at the time.
More recently, Player was back in the headlines through his business dealings with Donald, Ivanka and Eric Trump. And in 2017, US president Donald Trump used Twitter to wish him a happy birthday, calling him “a truly great Champion and Person!”, later awarding Player the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House.
The auction runs until the 28th of November, and the lots are available to view and bid online on the Golden Age website.
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