A collection comprised of every single DC comic published for newsstand/direct sale from 1934-2014 will be auctioned off this fall. Ivan Briggs, the Director of Comics for PBA Galleries Auctioneers, received the first shipment of comics from the collection on Monday.
I spoke to Ivan, and he told me that the collection, over 40,000 comic books, was amassed by British music writer and producer Ian Levine. Levine sold it to the current consigner, who at this time wishes to remain anonymous, around 2014.
The collection will be sold in different blocks, in a series of sales. It seemed to me that much of its value would be in the fact that it is a complete collection, so it would be a shame to break it up. Ivan told me that in fact, that is how the consigner originally wanted to sell it, and it was offered for sale through Sotheby's auction house, for $10 million, but it didn't sell for years.
It is Ivan's contention that it will actually yield a higher price if sold in blocks — "carve it up like a goose," as he says — because that will widen the bidder base. There are just too few people in the world with the interest, means, and ability to buy the whole thing.
Ivan did tell me that many of the most important comic books in the collection have been "restored." Comic books lose much of their value if they are in less than perfect, or "mint" condition, so at the time Levine was collecting the oldest and rarest comics in the collection, in the 1970s and 1980s, the fashion was to try to restore them to better condition: by using paper fill to fix a split spine, or correcting color muting with pigment, or sealing tears. This practice is now out of favor, and the restoration work that's already been done is not reversible.
Ivan says that it's too early to predict a price on the collection, because that depends too much on the condition and extent of the restoration of the comic books, most of which he's not been able to examine yet.
Below is a screenshot of the Facebook post from Ivan Briggs, showing photos of his unboxing of the first shipment to PBA of what was formerly known as the Ian Levine collection (now rebranded as the DC Universe Collection). (posted with the permission of Ivan Briggs)
hat tip: @DerfBackderf