Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

July 13, 2015

Last year at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, an FBI agent took possession of an 1869 Red Stocking trade card owned by Net54 moderator Leon Luckey suspecting that the relic had been stolen from the New York Public Library’s famous Spalding Collection. Sources indicate that the agent wanted to examine the back of the card for evidence of an NYPL stamp and that after examining it, the card was returned to Luckey, the co-owner of Brockelman & Luckey Auctions.

During the convention, a collector inadvertently posted on YouTube a video which caught Luckey talking to his partner Brockelman about the card in question as the collector was filming the materials displayed in Luckey’s showcases. That same card which was returned to Luckey is now appearing in the current Heritage auction as part of the sale of his type-card collection. Heritage, however, has posted a high-resolution scan of the back of Luckey’s 1869 card and the image clearly reveals an NYPL stamp featuring one of the library’s sculpted marble lions which are named patience and fortitude and have stood guard at the entrance of the 5th Avenue branch since it opened in 1911. The evidence of the stamp on the back of the card is unimpeachable evidence that Luckey’s prized possession was stolen from A.G. Spalding’s collection which has been housed at the library since 1921. The library has suffered staggering multi-million dollar losses as a result of a 1970s heist that has been reported on in the New York Times and the New York Post.

Leon Luckey's 1869 P&S trade card of the Red Stockings shows the remnants of a red stamp on the reverse.

Why the FBI returned the stolen relic to Luckey last year after examining it is unclear. What is clear, however, are the remnants of the red NYPL stamp that definitively document it as property of the City of New York. When we examined the scan of the back and viewed it as a negative image (similar to an x-ray) the word “Library” from the oval NYPL stamp was clearly visible along with the circle that follows the word.

A closer x-ray view of the back of the HA card (left) reveals the word "Library" and a following circle that match the NYPL oval stamp (right) exactly.

Hauls of Shame also sent the Heritage back scan to a skilled SABR member who overlayed it on top of an NYPL stamp found on another card in the Spalding Collection. The result was an exact match for every visible point of emphasis on both the Peck & Snyder card and the oval NYPL stamp.

An oval red stamp that appears on the backs of other NYPL Spalding photos (left) appears to show points of emphasis which are identical to the remnants left on the card being sold by Heritage (right).

The remnants and the full stamp exhibit the exact same lettering, graphics and lion outline and definitively prove that Heritage is, yet again, selling property stolen from one of the nation’s most prestigious research libraries.

When the NYPL lion stamp is overlay-ed on the image of the surface on the reverse of Leon Luckey's card, the result shows an exact match confirming that the Heritage auction lot was stolen from the NYPL.

Luckey’s card is an 1869 trade card issued by the Peck & Snyder sporting goods company and depicts the members of the champion Cincinnati Red Stockings who went undefeated that season.  The card is one of several examples that were stolen from the NYPL including another card which was confiscated by the FBI at the National Convention in 2012 when it was being sold by Legendary Auctions.  The FBI examined the card under an ultraviolet light which revealed another blue rectangular stamp used by the library to document ownership of Spalding items.  That card was offered for sale by auctioneer Doug Allen who has recently plead guilty to charges of wire fraud in an FBI probe into corruption in the memorabilia industry.  The stolen card currently for sale at Heritage was also previously sold by Allen and his former partner Bill Mastro at MastroNet in 2000.  Mastro has also plead guilty to wire fraud in the same case and Luckey’s stolen card can be traced back to Mastro’s former partner, Rob Lifson, who sold the stolen card in his own Robert Edward Auctions sale in 1997.

The stolen 1869 P&S card was sold by Rob Lifson (left) at REA in 1997 and again by Lifson and Bill Mastro (center left) at MastroNet in 2000, Net54 moderator Leon Luckey (center right) allegedly purchased the card from MastroNet and consigned it to Chris Ivy (right) of Heritage in 2015.

Lifson, of course, is notorious as the only individual to ever be apprehended while stealing similar 19th century photographs and cards from the NYPL’s Spalding Collection.  When Lifson was caught stealing in 1979 TIME Magazine reported that he had $5,000 cash on his person and that the thief claimed to have made that cash selling cards in “just one day.” Many of the stolen NYPL relics ended up in the collection of Lifson’s top client Barry Halper and sources indicate that the current card for sale at Heritage was offered at Christie’s in 1996 and prior to that was part of the Halper Collection.

Luckey and Chris Ivy of Heritage Auction Galleries were hoping that the 1869 rarity would fetch a six-figure price considering the auction house calls the card the highest graded example in existence. But after Hauls of Shame alerted the NYPL and the FBI of the presence of the library stamp on the reverse their plans to cash in on the stolen treasure began to unravel.  In fact, sources indicate that both Luckey and Ivy were aware that the card had the NYPL stamp and was stolen property as Ivy and Heritage noted in the lot description: “Fragments of some type of red stamp appear on the upper part of the verso. There is surface marring or erasure on the back in the same upper quadrant. This could be a library stamp, a collector stamp or the mark of some retailer.”  There is no question that the stamp is a library stamp—an NYPL stamp featuring a lion. Heritage’s false claims that the ink remnants could be from a “collector” or “retail” stamp are wholly disingenuous and demonstrate what appears to be outright consumer fraud.

Further suggesting that Luckey had prior knowledge his card was stolen is evidence that shows the Net54 moderator had displayed the back of his card with a high resolution scan until May 2010 when he intentionally changed the scan to a low resolution image that made it impossible to examine the remnants of the red stamp on the reverse. Luckey basically admits his knowledge that the card is stolen in the course of his 2014 conversation with his partner Scott Brockelman that was posted by collector Jerry Spillman on YouTube. In that conversation Luckey states that the FBI agent (who he referred to as a “Private detective, NYPL”) was “confident” that his card was stolen from the library. Luckey and his partner also allude to knowing who stole the card originally in this exchange:

“Luckey: He (the FBI Agent) is like, man, you don’t really have to worry about it, you didn’t steal it. (unintelligible)

Brockelman:  Well, I know, but they obviously know who did. I have a pretty good idea.  I’m sure they probably do.”

Luckey also references a conversation he had with New York defense attorney and collector Jeffrey Lichtman stating: “Lichtman says no way they (the FBI) could take it, he says it’s been way too long.” Luckey also claims that dealer Kevin Struss owned the card previously stating, “Well, Kevin Struss had it, he sold it to Montgomery in ‘97. Just talked to Kevin, he said he can’t remember exactly where he got it. He says he might, he probably has a record of where he got it (unintelligible), he didn’t know offhand. Kevin sold it to him…”  Struss likely bought the card after it was sold by Rob Lifson in the 1997 REA auction.

The 2014 conversation between Leon Luckey and his partner was posted on YotTube (left) and mentions the 2012 FBI seizure of another stolen 1869 trade card with an NYPL stamp. The stamp was defaced but an ultraviolet light revealed that it was NYPL property (right).

Luckey also references the FBI seizure of the other 1869 Reds card from Legendary’s 2012 auction stating:

Take a picture of the back and bring out, like they did at the last  (unintelligible)  a few years ago.  Where I saw, they had a Peck and Snyder, from JC, it had a faint mark on the back, and they put it under some kind of instrument, and it brought it out perfectly.  It said NYPL, I did not see that.  So, some kind of infrared, so...”

The “JC” that Luckey refers to is J.C. Clarke who apparently was the consignor of the other stolen card to the Legendary sale.  The card was pulled from the sale and then returned to Clarke and it is unclear if it was ever actually returned to the NYPL.

We sent the transcript of the conversation to one of the nation’s top card collectors who is also a Net54 member and he responded to us stating, “The Brockelman paranoia in that transcript is startling. For such beacons in the hobby (Luckey and him) seem most concerned about keeping a stolen card. No mention of any loss by the NYPL.”

Angela Montefinise, the NYPL’s Director of Communications said she could not comment on the current FBI investigation into this particular card but a source familiar with the probe said the library is aggressively pursuing recovery of the six-figure Spalding treasure.

Hauls of Shame asked Chris Ivy of Heritage Auctions for comment on why he was selling another item stolen from the NYPL but the auction house’s sports director failed to respond to our inquiry. Heritage has a long history selling stolen goods from the NYPL including the 1879 player contract of Ezra Sutton signed by Harry Wright and Henry Chadwick’s 1894 NY Giant season pass.

Leon Luckey has  recently come under fire from some members of his Net54 forum after he stated he “appreciated” a recent gift he accepted from Bill Mastro and that he would not be writing a “victim letter” to the Judge who will decide how long Mastro’s prison sentence will be.  In years past Luckey has been a staunch supporter of both Bill Mastro and Doug Allen and has also been accused of bidding on his own items in Mastro auctions as a co-conspirator in Mastro’s shill-bidding schemes. New York defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman recently called out Luckey on his forum stating, “Hey, don’t blame me for holding up a mirror to your face and forcing you to eat your own words. You complain about fraud in the hobby and yet when push comes to shove you’ve defended Mastro and Allen for years. For years.”

Ironically, Luckey has his own criminal record as a confessed drug dealer and convicted felon who was caught distributing narcotics in 1986 as well as having 5-50 lbs of marijuana in his possession. He had also been arrested for distributing narcotics three years earlier. Luckey, however, has responded to his critics like Lichtman stating on Net54, ” I venture to guess I do more than 99.9% of the people in the hobby (you are right there too) to weed out fraud. I can’t stand it. Not sure if you have ever seen where I have said, ‘If you are doing something bad in the hobby I will be your worst friend,’ but I have said it many times. I have helped numerous authorities to work fraud cases in the hobby….Secret Service, Dept. Of Homeland Security, Postal Agents, Postal Inspectors, local authorities etc.”

Despite the overwhelming visual evidence showing that the card was stolen from the NYPL and his own words captured on the video at the National, Luckey responded today to criticism from forum member John McDaniel who told him, “There’s the whole Peck & Snyder card mess that’s traveling the hobby rumor circles of you potentially having a card connected to Mastro that may have been stolen from the NYPL.”

Luckey responded stating, “The Peck and Snyder card has been examined and no mark is discernible. Just like it says in the description. “There is surface marring or erasure on the back in the same upper quadrant. This could be a library stamp, a collector stamp or the mark of some retailer.” It has been examined and whatever was erased can’t be made out with any known equipment today. It has been tested. I only know where I got it and have an invoice for it. If you know more please let us know. I know the provenance of it for the last 25 yrs and that is all.”

Apparently selling stolen property donated to institutions doesn’t phase Luckey and with his 1869 card still for sale on the Heritage website it appears he isn’t willing to help the FBI (who he claims to have on his speed dial) recover this particular stolen treasure.

Here is the full transcript of the Luckey-Brockelman conversation referenced in the article:

Transcript: Leon Luckey and Scott Brockelman at National Convention in 2014 from video posted on YouTube by collector Jerry Spillman

Luckey:      Brian said ‘I will bring you a picture.’

Brockelman:  Huh?  for What?

Luckey:      Peck and Snyder.

Brockelman:  What do you mean?

Luckey:      Picture of the back.  (lowered voice)  (unintelligible) NYPL.  Oh you didn’t hear?

Brockelman:  Well I knew, I mean, what’s, I didn’t know he’s, what, we are bringing this guy around, what, inspecting everybody’s cards now?

Luckey:      I don’t know, if I want to say to him, I can say no. So he looked at it.  Thinks it.  (lowered voice) Private detective,  NYPL.

Brockelman:  Well, when, it was first. If he thinks that he certainly has the equipment.

Luckey:      He says he’s confident.

Brockelman:  Why wouldn’t he have (unintelligible) the picture with him forever.

Luckey:      Well he’s going to do it now.

Brockelman:  And I was thinking…

Luckey:      Take a picture of the back and bring out, like they did at the last  (unintelligible)  a few years ago.  Where I saw, they had a Peck and Snyder, from JC, it had a faint mark on the back, and they put it under some kind of instrument, and it brought it out perfectly.  It said NYPL, I did not see that.  So, some kind of infrared, so…

Brockelman:  But, why wouldn’t you have already had that with you, obviously they knew they were coming here to do that.

Luckey:      He had no idea, no, they weren’t coming here to do that. He just said ‘Can I see it?’

Brockelman:  No, no, they were coming here to do that. Unintelligible…

Luckey:      Maybe, maybe.

Brockelman:  Unintelligible…

Luckey:      Maybe

Brockelman:  So they just took it away from you?

Luckey:      Well I gave it to  (unintelligible) to look at under a…

Brockelman:  Well they sure as hell not going to give it back to you. I would, they would need to have a form from the library that says uh, that we are…..

Luckey:      Well, no, no. I think I will get it back for now, I just don’t know the long term prognosis.

Brockelman:  Well…

Luckey:      Lichtman says no way they could take it, he says it’s been way too long.

Brockelman:  I don’t know.

Luckey:      I don’t know. 10k is what I have into it.  I don’t know, it’s a little unsettling the whole thing.

Brockelman:  No, I don’t think they just happen to come over here and say ‘look at that’.

Luckey:      Maybe not.

Brockelman:  I think they already have…

Luckey:      Although he didn’t bring his stuff. He’s borrowing somebody else’s so I don’t know.

Customer:    Do you have any cabinet cards.

Woman:       Cabinets, (unintelligible)

Luckey:      He’s like, man, you don’t really have to worry about it, you didn’t steal it. (unintelligible)

Man’s voice:  You taking pictures, huh?

Brockelman:  Well, I know, but they obviously know who did. I have a pretty good idea.  I’m sure they probably do.

Luckey:      Well, Kevin Struss had it, he sold it to Montgomery in ‘97. Just talked to Kevin, he said he can’t remember exactly where he got it. He says he might, he probably has a record of where he got it (unintelligible), he didn’t know offhand. Kevin sold it to him (unintelligible)

Brockelman:  (Unintelligible)

Luckey:      Mastro

Brockelman:  (Unintelligible)

Luckey:      (Unintelligible)

Brockelman:  I’m….I just can’t believe that they just happen to come up to your table.  (Unintelligible)

Luckey:      Well, they just found one, one or two years ago, last year…..

Voice:       Hey Frank, what’s going on.

Frank:       How are we doing?

Voice:       Good.

Frank:       Leon, how are you?

Luckey:      Good

UPDATE (July 14th 4:50 PM): Heritage has withdrawn the stolen Peck & Snyder card from its current sale.


74 Comments »

  1. I am an interested third party.

    Just in case people can’t hear the speaking well from the youtube video, here is the transcript I made from the first 3:30 seconds of the video, which is the relevant part of the video featuring Leon and Scott talking about Leon’s Peck and Snyder card.

    If you watch the video with the sound up and follow the transcript, it is much easier to discern what they are saying. It’s interesting to hear how much Leon and Scott already know about this card and the fact that the investigator had looked at it and was ‘certain’ according to the said detective that it was NYPL property.

    But Leon said he was advised that “too much time had passed” that they couldn’t take it.

    Scott says he had a good idea who might have stole it and the authorities probably have a good idea too.

    Mr. Luckey is welcome to come on here and make any corrections to the transcript.

    video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkFkAzr6HaM&feature=youtu.be

    Luckey:      Brian said ‘I will bring you a picture.’

    Brockelman:  Huh?  for What?

    Luckey:      Peck and Snyder.

    Brockelman:  What do you mean?

    Luckey:      Picture of the back.  (lowered voice)  (unintelligible) NYPL.  Oh you didn’t hear?

    Brockelman:  Well I knew, I mean, what’s, I didn’t know he’s, what, we are bringing this guy around, what, inspecting everybody’s cards now?

    Luckey:      I don’t know, if I want to say to him, I can say no. So he looked at it.  Thinks it.  (lowered voice) Private detective,  NYPL.

    Brockelman:  Well, when, it was first. If he thinks that he certainly has the equipment.

    Luckey:      He says he’s confident.

    Brockelman:  Why wouldn’t he have (unintelligible) the picture with him forever.

    Luckey:      Well he’s going to do it now.

    Brockelman:  And I was thinking…

    Luckey:      Take a picture of the back and bring out, like they did at the last  (unintelligible)  a few years ago.  Where I saw, they had a Peck and Snyder, from JC, it had a faint mark on the back, and they put it under some kind of instrument, and it brought it out perfectly.  It said NYPL, I did not see that.  So, some kind of infrared, so…

    Brockelman:  But, why wouldn’t you have already had that with you, obviously they knew they were coming here to do that.

    Luckey:      He had no idea, no, they weren’t coming here to do that. He just said ‘Can I see it?’

    Brockelman:  No, no, they were coming here to do that. Unintelligible…

    Luckey:      Maybe, maybe.

    Brockelman:  Unintelligible…

    Luckey:      Maybe

    Brockelman:  So they just took it away from you?

    Luckey:      Well I gave it to  (unintelligible) to look at under a…

    Brockelman:  Well they sure as hell not going to give it back to you. I would, they would need to have a form from the library that says uh, that we are…..

    Luckey:      Well, no, no. I think I will get it back for now, I just don’t know the long term prognosis.

    Brockelman:  Well…

    Luckey:      Lichtman says no way they could take it, he says it’s been way too long.

    Brockelman:  I don’t know.

    Luckey:      I don’t know. 10k is what I have into it.  I don’t know, it’s a little unsettling the whole thing.

    Brockelman:  No, I don’t think they just happen to come over here and say ‘look at that’.

    Luckey:      Maybe not.

    Brockelman:  I think they already have…

    Luckey:      Although he didn’t bring his stuff. He’s borrowing somebody else’s so I don’t know.

    Customer:    Do you have any cabinet cards.

    Woman:       Cabinets, (unintelligible)

    Luckey:      He’s like, man, you don’t really have to worry about it, you didn’t steal it. (unintelligible)

    Man’s voice:  You taking pictures, huh?

    Brockelman:  Well, I know, but they obviously know who did. I have a pretty good idea.  I’m sure they probably do.

    Luckey:      Well, Kevin Struss had it, he sold it to Montgomery in ‘97. Just talked to Kevin, he said he can’t remember exactly where he got it. He says he might, he probably has a record of where he got it (unintelligible), he didn’t know offhand. Kevin sold it to him (unintelligible)

    Brockelman:  (Unintelligible)

    Luckey:      Mastro

    Brockelman:  (Unintelligible)

    Luckey:      (Unintelligible)

    Brockelman:  I’m….I just can’t believe that they just happen to come up to your table.  (Unintelligible)

    Luckey:      Well, they just found one, one or two years ago, last year…..

    voice:       Hey Frank, what’s going on.

    Frank:       How are we doing?

    voice:       Good.

    Frank:       Leon, how are you?

    Luckey:      Good

    Comment by Ken Brockman — July 13, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

  2. Well, nothing surprises me at this point.

    Comment by chris — July 13, 2015 @ 9:39 pm

  3. And the card is still up for sale with an alleged bid of $16,000

    Comment by admin — July 13, 2015 @ 9:55 pm

  4. From Luckey: “After I speak with the NYPL (hopefully tomorrow but very soon) a determination will be made. It can’t be put back in once pulled so we are making sure it was in fact stolen before we pull it.”

    Comment by admin — July 13, 2015 @ 9:57 pm

  5. Scott Brockelman didn’t seem to have any questions in his mind as to whether it was stolen or not. Leon didn’t seem to question him on his comment at that point either.

    Comment by Ken Brockman — July 13, 2015 @ 10:31 pm

  6. I see Luckey is now saying he thinks the card was deaccessioned and sold by the library…he says

    “Things were deaccessioned for various reasons. Do some research. Just because there is a mark doesn’t mean it was stolen. As a matter of fact according to the document on Nash’s website there is one 1869 Red Stocking card reported missing. If JC has/had one, and I have one, how do we know it didn’t leave the library under normal conditions? Lots of assumptions here…”

    Comment by John — July 13, 2015 @ 10:32 pm

  7. If not for Leon banning people from Net 54 who dare to speak out against him he would be getting ripped apart right now on the board. He’s an unemployed, convicted drug dealer. What do you expect from such a guy. He keeps telling us how brave and wonderful he is to sell his collection to pay for his daughter’s education but what father wouldn’t do such a thing? You’d think he was raising money to cure cancer.

    Comment by Mastro Monkey — July 13, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

  8. Well, he’s sadly mistaken if that’s what he’s falling back on. The NYPL has never deaccessioned items from the Spalding photograph collection. In the past they deaccessioned duplicate copies of Spalding Guides etc. In one case they sold to the Library of Congress a rare copy of the Pocket Companion but that’s the only instance of a valuable baseball item ever being deaccessioned or sold (and that booklet wasn’t from the Spalding Collection). Not only are there Luckey’s 1869 card and the other 1869 card seized from the Legendary auction, there was another P&S Reds card recovered by the FBI several years ago and there is yet another one missing from the Spalding Collection that was illustrated in Seymour’s book…and that one has never surfaced publicly like Luckey’s card.

    Comment by admin — July 13, 2015 @ 10:40 pm

  9. “We are making sure it was in fact stolen”? Ah…..I think Mr. Nash has pretty much shown that. More like wait until reality has sunk in. I’m pretty sure Heritage was trying to troll Mr. Nash w/ the “This could be a library stamp” auction description. They were basically saying, “we can sell whatever the f we want and even say its a library stamp”…. that took some balls that have been inflated by countless other outings of Heritage by Mr. Nash that seem to go without recourse. I guess if you can sell stolen goods from the NYPL including the 1879 player contract of Ezra Sutton signed by Harry Wright and Henry Chadwick’s 1894 NY Giant season pass, without anyone but Mr. Nash saying anything….it would give you an sense of invincibility. It seems like Heritage is a much bigger culprit than many give them credit for. Take a look at Mr. Nash’s prolific investigative reporting back to 2010… Heritage comes up just as often as Mastro/Legendary yet the Leon Luckey collection comes out on Heritage Auctions and its “get me a catalog.” This episode too will be forgotten by the Heritage faithful….just as soon as the next auction starts. The hobby already has their whipping boys… don’t need anymore right now. For full disclosure….I was banned from Heritage Auctions (not that I ever participated in them) for contributing research to article Mr. Nash wrote regarding ticket stubs. He quoted me in a story and I was banned from Heritage Auctions the next day. I subsequently tried to join Leon Luckey’s online forum NET54 and was banned for life by Mr. Luckey without ever being made a member or posting. apparently he will be your worst friend if you are doing something bad in the hobby or providing a quote to Mr. Nash for an article.

    Comment by Dave Maus — July 13, 2015 @ 10:45 pm

  10. I think the following question needs to be posted on Leon’s website.

    Leon, would you have bought the card at auction if it were listed as having a NYPL library stamp on the back and had the description that there was no proof that it wasn’t de-accessioned, so it is being offered for auction?

    If his answer was that he wouldn’t have bid, then he shouldn’t be trying to sell it now under the same guise. Maybe the fact that he stands to realize a profit of 60-90 thousand dollars over the price he paid for it trumps all of these questions.

    Comment by Ken Brockman — July 14, 2015 @ 12:23 am

  11. How does SGC grade that card at that level with the visible removal of a library stamp on the back–and knowing all of the documented problems with these Red cards in terms of theft?

    Comment by Josh — July 14, 2015 @ 5:47 am

  12. WOW! Nice work Peter! I still think your work on the fake T206 Magies was some of your best! Dan

    Comment by Dan Mckee — July 14, 2015 @ 10:20 am

  13. Why would anyone have a “…pretty good idea” of [who stole it]?

    Luckey: He’s like, man, you don’t really have to worry about it, you didn’t steal it. (unintelligible)

    Man’s voice: You taking pictures, huh?

    Brockelman: Well, I know, but they obviously know who did. I have a pretty good idea. I’m sure they probably do.

    Comment by Bucky Robar — July 14, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

  14. According to its website, Heritage has withdrawn the stolen 1869 P&S Reds card from the current sale.

    Comment by admin — July 14, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

  15. Some teenager with an exacto knife cut out lots of NYPL stuff and sell to Halper? How can you grade such a card and not see the stamp? Heritage should never have touched this. Mastro might look up Chicago hoodlums in Marion, get some “love that Italian restaurant” lines ready.

    Comment by Tony Spilatro — July 14, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

  16. Youtube:
    “Luckey: Lichtman says no way they could take it, he says it’s been way too long.”

    Net54:
    “07-13-2015, 09:24 AM …
    Jeffrey Lichtman
    Sure and would you mind if I discuss what you called me for last year? Because you would be on my roster.”

    Comment by Mike — July 15, 2015 @ 4:54 am

  17. Leon just locked the thread on Net 54 because someone pointed out the obvious: you don’t need to sell a million dollar collection to pay for $200,000 worth of tuition.

    The only way he returns the card to the NYPL is if he does so solely for publicity value. He’s clearly desperate for money so I predict he’ll try to figure out a way to keep the card or as much of it in dollars as he can. But if all else fails after fighting tooth and nail he’ll give it up and tell everyone what a great guy he is by giving the card back. Maybe Heritage will then do another writeup on him about his great charity, the charity which begins and stays at home for Leon.

    Comment by Mastro Monkey — July 15, 2015 @ 11:01 am

  18. http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/rare-1869-cincinnati-red-stockings-card-nyc-ties-article-1.2292623

    Funny, Leon has no problems speaking about the card to the press — but censors his own board!

    Comment by Mastro Monkey — July 15, 2015 @ 11:46 am

  19. so what is going to happen- NOTHING!! THEY WILL STILL RUN AUCTIONS- SO WHATS THE BIG DEAL OF U REPORTING IT- DOESNT DO MUCH CREDITABILITY TO HAULS OF SHAME BECAUSE EVERYTIME U REPORT SOMETHING- NOTHING HAPPENS. MEANS NO ONE CARES WHAT HAULS OF SHAME HAS TO SAY BECAUSE NOTHING HAPPENS

    Comment by vic franklin — July 15, 2015 @ 12:22 pm

  20. Pre-war card collectors need a new forum thats not run by a bald headed lying hypocrite! To think a card expert (Leon) didn’t know that card was stolen is laughable. He was attempting to casually unload it with the rest of his collection as cover. Had it not been for Heritage Auctions high-resolution scans I bet he would have pulled it off!

    Comment by Mike — July 15, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

  21. Leon can be reached at 214-282-4943 or leonl@flash.net if you would like to let him know your feelings direct on his involvement in fraud. You can’t question him on his own forum or you will get banned. Rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to him. This hobby desperately needs a new forum not run by a lying hypocrite. Moreover, it would be nice not to see forum generated profits not go to Leon’s pocket.

    Comment by Sean — July 15, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

  22. How “lucky” for Mr. Luckey that he can count on profits from these stolen goods to send his children to college while most of the rest of us have to work hard at earning an honest living and our children have to take out loans to do the same. And some these artifacts at one point belonged to my ancestor, Harry Wright. Too bad they ended up at they NYPL only to be stolen for some criminals and an auction house with no integrity to benefit from. Even if my family had them in our possession, they would not end up at auction so I could pay for my own children’s college! These items belong in, and were intended to remain in the public eye for all to see and learn about. They are a part of American History. Too bad my great-great grandfather didn’t pass them along to family to care for. I am sure he felt he was preserving important baseball history by doing what he did. It is a beyond shameful what can happen to the intentions of such an honorable man!

    Comment by pam guzzi — July 15, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

  23. I am glad to see he got his just desserts. Leon sure knows how to dish it out along with running Net54 forum like North Korea if it doesn’t meet his agenda.

    I am probably foolish to say this, but I have to wonder what his involvement is with card doctoring after this has come to light.

    Comment by Andrew Miller — July 15, 2015 @ 6:57 pm

  24. Amazing.

    Can I take a swing at this? I guess I couldn’t be more disapointed in Leon. He preaches about weeding out fraud yet turns a blind eye to profiting from it with every exuse he could come up with to justify it. I always had a bad feeling he was up to no good.

    Hmmmm. What is next?

    Comment by Bill Gregory — July 15, 2015 @ 7:07 pm

  25. Leon has made it known this isn’t allowed for discussion on Net54baseball unless you want retalition from him. Hey, it’s OK to talk about other fraud though…

    Comment by Jim — July 15, 2015 @ 8:55 pm

  26. Mr. Mint could give him a whole lot of bananas for it

    Comment by Mastro Chimp — July 15, 2015 @ 9:06 pm

  27. One of the more interesting things about Leon is that for someone who often chooses to live on the scummy side of the hobby, he is a poor judge of who to trust.

    Most people who engage in questionable and morally corrupt behavior are cautious about who they confide in. Not Leon. He emails and calls people he thinks are on his side to commiserate his woes, and those very people forward the emails or relate the calls in detail to other people who dislike Leon.

    You’d think Leon would wise up and realize that many of the people he thinks are allies are laughing at him. He succeeds for the most part in controlling the sycophants he has surrounded himself with on Net54, having run off so many longtime posters who actually have hobby knowledge. But outside his little fiefdom, he’s viewed by so many in the hobby as either a clown or money-grubbing schmuck.

    Comment by Dorskind's Ghost — July 15, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

  28. I just listened to the youtube video by Jerry Spillman. There’s a lot more there that an audio expert could likely lift from the sound file with the proper software to filter out all of the background noise and static.

    Leon Luckey should probably step down from his position as forum moderator. As the evidence now shows, if he isn’t bothered by knowingly putting up for sale a card which is not his (stolen), then what else in his collection might also have questionable provenance?

    Locking a thread on network54 that is critical of him only makes Luckey look that much more guilty. So far, all we have from him are excuses NOT to return the card to its rightful owner. A callous, scheming “wait and see” strategy aimed at retaining the card for as long as possible. But Luckey has long known that the card was stolen and now he’s been caught in the act of trying to resell stolen property. The only thing that was unclear was who stole it.

    There’s also potential grounds for a lawsuit here to the extent that Luckey may have misrepresented the card to Heritage. And just think if the card would have sold for $100k to another collector and that collector would have had to return the card to its rightful owner (the NYPL). Could the winning bidder have sued Luckey? Probably, given Luckey’s prior knowledge of the card. Is there any question that pure greed has replaced Luckey’s ability to think rationally and ethically? Who would trust such a person who continues to remain so belligerent and unapologetic?

    Comment by Joe Smith — July 15, 2015 @ 11:44 pm

  29. Funny how the clowns at PSA even deleted a thread about this, everyone is so scared to call out these losers. Just sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away, they don’t want anything published that will put a black mark on the hobby that might take money out of their pockets. Also classy of SGC to grade this card without doing any research or investigation.

    Comment by Pete Rose — July 16, 2015 @ 1:06 am

  30. Here is the thread where the tables are turned on Leon:

    http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=208076&page=20

    not surprising he locked the thread to further comments.

    Comment by Jeff — July 16, 2015 @ 1:30 am

  31. Good to see the national media covering this. Of course the NY Daily News gives no credit to this site for actually breaking the story and exposing the sale of this stolen card by Heritage. NYDN famous as shills for the Madoff Mets continue to shill for the Madoff of Memorabilia.

    Comment by Paul — July 16, 2015 @ 4:04 am

  32. Vevy interesting and telling that when Luckey mentions NYPL (stamp) in the video, he lowers his voice each time. Why?

    Comment by Ken Brockman — July 16, 2015 @ 10:22 am

  33. My interactions with Leon thought me that he is a completely two-faced sociopath. He operates his forum in the same manner.

    Comment by Mike — July 16, 2015 @ 2:16 pm

  34. Funny, days later and he still hasn’t returned the card which even Heritage admits was stolen from the NYPL. What is he waiting for? Some more money so he can pay for his duaghter’s fourth PhD?

    Comment by Mastro Monkey — July 16, 2015 @ 4:40 pm

  35. Like some of the Network54 denizens, I am rightly concerned about security at this year’s National Convention in Chicago. We all know the stories about cards being pilfered during the early morning hours when the convention hall is supposed to be locked down. I guess my biggest question is this:

    If I set up a table and my cards get stolen, is there a reasonable chance the police will eventually recover them? If I keep detailed records and images, and follow up with many contacts within the industry, I would like to think the answer would be yes.

    What really worries me, however, is if they make their way into Leon Luckey’s collection. What then?

    Comment by Archive — July 16, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

  36. Why hasn’t Leon returned the card? He’s been busy trying to phone a friend for advice. Trouble is, he’s figuring out he doesn’t have any.

    Comment by Barry S. — July 16, 2015 @ 9:54 pm

  37. Still wondering why Leon didn’t want to write the Judge a letter in regards to the Mastro sentencing?

    Comment by Ben — July 16, 2015 @ 10:54 pm

  38. If a hobby veteran like Dan McKee can see what a fraud Leon is than everyone should. Naturally Leon is blasting him to all his friends about daring to put a comment up here. Maybe at some point he’ll learn that when you’re a fraud the only true friends you have are other frauds like Bill Mastro, the guy who gave him a gift in order to get a favorable letter written to the court on his behalf.

    A man is measured by the company he keeps and Leon is loyal to Mastro, Allen, JC Clarke (who Leon threw under the bus about his own Peck and Snyder card) and Brockelman who sounds like he’s in the mafia discussing the FBI agent daring to do his job and attempt to learn if Leon’s card was stolen. Two slimeballs, caught on tape, whispering about possibly having a stolen card returned to its rightful owner. “I just don’t know the long term prognosis.” Yeap, that sounds like a guy who’s sure his card is on the up and up and not stolen goods.

    Comment by Aaron — July 17, 2015 @ 4:48 pm

  39. This is off-limits for discussion on Net54baseball! Surprised?

    Comment by Ken — July 17, 2015 @ 5:42 pm

  40. Why is PSA on the Collectors Universe Forums blocking this from being discussed?

    Comment by Sean — July 17, 2015 @ 5:59 pm

  41. And I guess Heritage removing the top lot in its premiers auction (a lot that’s owned by a guy who takes ad $$ from HA and all the other AH’s) isn’t a hobby news story worthy of coverage by Mueller Klein and Sports Collectors Daily crew. Why isn’t there any coverage over there? Oh yeah, people go there to get there Top 10 cards fixes. All shills every last one of them. Makes me sick.

    Comment by Josh — July 17, 2015 @ 11:38 pm

  42. Leon, because everyone knows you read these comments, this is what happens when you don’t allow open discussion on your board. You get ripped here, for good reason. Sucks that you can’t censor this content, doesn’t it? Time to phone a friend. Or email. (Can’t wait to read it, eventually.)

    Comment by Greg S. — July 17, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

  43. if Leon was just a regular member on Net54 you’d find out how people really feel about him, not just related to this incident. the guy is a complete two-faced SOB with nothing going for him.

    Comment by Brent — July 18, 2015 @ 3:41 am

  44. He said he would give the card back if the NYPL said it was stolen and asked for it back. The NYPL has done both. Heritage has admitted the card is stolen and refuses to sell it. Yet here we are days later and Leon still won’t give it back. He doesn’t want the 10K he paid for it, he wants exactly what’s he can sell it for. He lied about not knowing the card was probably stolen. He lied about promising to give it back. He gets called out by Harry Wright’s great-great granddaughter. And all he does in response is hunker down, cut off all commentary on him and the card on Net 54, bad mouth anyone who tells the truth about his fraud and his covering up for other fraudsters all so that he can quietly try to sell the card privately. Because no auction house will touch it because rhe card is bad. His friends are laughing at him and sending out his emails. Law enforcement won’t take his speed-dialed calls anymore. All for a stolen baseball card which he refuses to return. What a guy he is.

    Comment by David — July 18, 2015 @ 9:11 am

  45. Recently I emailed Mr. Luckey regarding a thread about me entitled “bad ebay seller -djsportscollectibles” that was started on his NET54 message board. Here is a link:
    net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=162358

    For the record, I am not a “bad ebay seller” but just a regular guy with a modest collection who sells on ebay occasionally and gets a surprisingly high % of negative press coverage on NET54 like here (just a small sample):

    http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?p=735816

    http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=118240

    http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=172001

    Mr. Luckey even contributed to some of these negative threads about me…. not sure why… he doesn’t know me nor do I know him but apparently he likes to get out the pitchforks with comments like:

    “It looks like it might go fairly high. That’s too bad. If ebay still showed bidders they could be alerted to this thread. Wishful thinking..”

    To make a long story short… when I emailed Mr. Luckey about removing yet another negative thread about me on his board and explained how absolutely none of what was being said had even a shred of truth, his comment to me was, and I paraphrase, “I NEVER edit the content of what is posted…. it is an open board and users are free to post whatever they wish as long as they put their name to it, blah, blah, blah”.

    hypocritical? You be the judge.

    Also, Mr. Luckey’s almost comical constant critiquing of Mr. Nash is a little easier to understand now when put into full context. Mr. Nash…. relentless pursuer of items stolen from the Spalding Collection at the NYPL…Mr. Luckey….owner of item stolen from the Spalding Collection at the NYPL. It all makes perfect sense now…..

    Comment by Dave Maus — July 18, 2015 @ 9:16 am

  46. He’s an unemployed, repeat convicted drug dealer. What else can you expect?

    Comment by Dan — July 18, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  47. I don’t know Mr. Luckey and have read Net54 maybe 3 times in my life. I can’t imagine anyone bidding in his auction after reading these comments. I know I won’t.

    Comment by Jon McDonald — July 18, 2015 @ 11:10 am

  48. The Luckey resume:

    From his post on Net54: “The Peck and Snyder card has been examined and no mark is discernible.” Lie.

    From his post on Net54: “It has been examined and whatever was erased can’t be made out with any known equipment today.” Lie.

    From his post on Net54: “I didn’t have to bend over backwards to work with the authorities …” Lie.

    From his post on Net54: ” … you can spin this any way you want to but there is not one iota of anything I did wrong.” Lie.

    From his post on Net54: “I won’t respond to anymore of your drivel but will report back after the investigation is over.” Lie.

    From his post on Net54: “I am sorry I don’t live up to your high moral standards though. I will strive very hard though….” Lie (unless he can profit from it).

    From the Heritage auction catalog: Leon “sacrifices his labor of love for a love even greater, to fund the college education of his daughter.” Lie.

    All of this from a guy who posts that “I venture to guess I do more than 99.9% of the people in the hobby … to weed out fraud.”

    Weed out fraud? He’s the poster child for fraud.

    Comment by Archives aren't your friend — July 18, 2015 @ 12:05 pm

  49. LMFAO

    I am proud to be banned from net54 for life.

    Cardboard Junkie.

    Comment by David Pierson — July 18, 2015 @ 1:44 pm

  50. Leon is about profit. Once you filter out the sweet old man comments he makes about cards and the people that kiss his — since he is the moderator and owner of Net54 you can see the true Leon… A snake in the grass. Without HIS forum this jerk is a nobody.

    I commend Hauls Of Shame for the impressive research in reporting this article! It shows the conflicts of interests and why others won’t comment or say anything on this matter.

    Comment by Rob — July 18, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

  51. I SUSPECT THERE IS A LOT MORE THAT GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES WITH LEON THAN JUST THIS CARD! He likes to point out the 3rd grade level card scammers on Ebay but when it comes to big-time fraud he truly does not want it openly discussed. Everyone in this hobby needs to wakeup and smell the coffee.

    Its not just a conincidene your graded 8,9,10 Pre-War cards look bleached with prefectly sharp corners on a diamond cut…

    Comment by George Counter — July 18, 2015 @ 2:18 pm

  52. Busted!

    Does anyone have a link to scans of the card in graded holder that was put up for auction at HA? I can’t find them since the lot was pulled.

    Comment by Phil — July 18, 2015 @ 2:24 pm

  53. If Leon is forced to give up the card he will surely put a spin on it like he made things right out of the goodness of his heart. Too bad Net54 isn’t owned and moderated by someone else!

    Comment by Brent — July 18, 2015 @ 7:53 pm

  54. I hope this card makes it back to the NYPL safe and sound along with all the other stolen items.

    Mr Leon Luckey your silence speaks volumes about your low morale character. You could easily be making things right on this situation along with not censoring your own message board discussing this fraud!

    Comment by Scott — July 18, 2015 @ 8:12 pm

  55. Oh, so this is why Leon doesn’t like people good at picking up features of “altered” cards to be outspoken on Net54baseball! It was just a matter of time before he put his up for sale.

    Comment by Matt — July 18, 2015 @ 8:27 pm

  56. I’d like to bring a truck full of tomatoes to Chicago National with me to sell them to people to throw at Luckey at the Net54 appetizer and drink “dinner”

    Comment by Josh Perkins — July 18, 2015 @ 8:34 pm

  57. This is my favorite lie of all, when Luckey now claims he had no idea that the card was stolen from the NYPL and that the FBI agent (Brian) told him last year the card was not stolen. Yet here he is a year ago caught on tape saying the complete opposite:

    Luckey: Brian said ‘I will bring you a picture.’

    Brockelman: Huh? for What?

    Luckey: Peck and Snyder.

    Brockelman: What do you mean?

    Luckey: Picture of the back. (lowered voice) (unintelligible) NYPL. Oh you didn’t hear?

    Brockelman: Well I knew, I mean, what’s, I didn’t know he’s, what, we are bringing this guy around, what, inspecting everybody’s cards now?

    Luckey: I don’t know, if I want to say to him, I can say no. So he looked at it. Thinks it. (lowered voice) Private detective, NYPL.

    Brockelman: Well, when, it was first. If he thinks that he certainly has the equipment.

    Luckey: He says he’s confident.

    So last year the FBI agent tells him he’s ‘confident’ that the card was stolen from the NYPL and now Leon claims that he told him the total opposite. That the card was good to go. Why would Leon state a year ago that he was TOLD that the card came from the NYPL, that the FBI was “confident” that this was so and now he’s telling us all that the FBI told him the card was good? I’d bet anyone anything that the FBI agent if asked will state that he never told Leon the card was not stolen, that he in fact told him the complete opposite which is exactly what Leon reported in that sneaky talk with the dumbass Brockelman a year ago.

    Leon’s daughter has to be reading this and wondering how unlucky she is to have a lying liar for a father. And that he’s telling everyone he’s selling stolen cards and a million dollar collection for her college tuition which costs just a fraction of that. So disgusting.

    Comment by Greg — July 18, 2015 @ 8:39 pm

  58. “There is nothing you have said that I am not aware of. The Peck and Snyder card has been examined and no mark is discernible. Just like it says in the description.

    “There is surface marring or erasure on the back in the same upper quadrant. This could be a library stamp, a collector stamp or the mark of some retailer.”

    It has been examined and whatever was erased can’t be made out with any known equipment today. It has been tested. I only know where I got it and have an invoice for it. If you know more please let us know. I know the provenance of it for the last 25 yrs and that is all. ”

    He knew enough provenance to get really nervous about it being a stolen card in the audio on that video and to call a lawyer!

    Comment by Luke — July 18, 2015 @ 8:48 pm

  59. <>

    <>

    I think we all get the picture.

    Comment by Reality — July 18, 2015 @ 10:10 pm

  60. Money talks!

    Honestly I don’t know anyone that actually likes Leon Luckey, they just bear with him since he is the owner of Net54. Same goes for his advertisers. He makes far more per month than you may supect in advertisement revenue!

    Sorry if the truth hurts Leon. I’m waiting to see how you twist the facts going forward!

    Comment by Charles — July 19, 2015 @ 12:26 am

  61. Here is directly from the Luckey’s social media page.

    “I have around 25 or so advertisers that pay me pretty decently monthly….plus I am an ebay partner and do ok by sending traffic there (from the website) and getting paid for it….and Congrats on your situation. That is all fantastic stuff…..”

    Comment by Ken Brockman — July 19, 2015 @ 10:59 am

  62. With Leon Luckey it is always — always — first, second and third about the money. If you keep that in mind, then everything he does makes sense. Look no further than this Heritage auction. He thinks nothing of using his daughter as a pawn to favorably spin the reason he has decided to sell a collection he has lost interest in continuing. Leon and Heritage call it “philanthropy.” Most call it sad.

    Don’t dislike Leon Luckey. Pity him.

    Comment by J.A.K. — July 19, 2015 @ 1:14 pm

  63. Shady business will continue as usual with Leon since he owns Net54 and people have to put up with him.

    What does the future hold for this card? I hope it does not get swept under the rug like everything else in this hobby.

    Comment by Sean — July 19, 2015 @ 10:22 pm

  64. Please bring your kids to the Net54 dinner so they can meet a convicted Felon drug dealer who likes to double fist Coronas and schemes his next crooked venture since selling a stolen card through Heritage Auction didn’t go over as planned…

    Too bad making a dishonest buck goes hand in hand today in the world of sportscards. Don’t expect one crook to out another crook either. Just keep in mind who they prey on, naive collectors with $$$$

    Comment by Jim — July 20, 2015 @ 3:41 am

  65. Not defending Lukeys actions selling this stolen card but shouldn’t the real ire be directed at the alleged the if who has already admitted to stealing from the library and has sold or been tied to dozens of other items he sold to (and sold for) Barry Halper. How about some heat for Rob Lifson? I think he must have sent out a Net54 community cease and desist letter to anyone who utters his name. Or is it that he knows where all the cards are buried and the card fiends don’t want to cut off their connection to the Tony Montana of cardboard?
    Either way Rob Lifson is a low life and a thief and deserves more tarring and feathering than Luckey. Leon is probably scared shitless he will get sued if he points the finger at the hobby’s golden boy.

    Comment by Howard M — July 20, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  66. Thread locked with last commend from Leon of “The lynch mob can go home now. If it spreads to other places it will be dealt with. thanks,.”
    http://www.net54baseball.com/showthread.php?t=208076&page=34

    I don’t think anyone has the balls to start a new thread on this subject since Luckey will obviously retaliate.

    Net54 censorship is now on par with PSA’s Collectors Forum censorship. Congratulations Leon.

    Comment by Dan — July 20, 2015 @ 2:14 pm

  67. July 13, Luckey says the following publicly on Net 54:

    “If it is proven it was stolen from the library, and they ask for it back, I will give it back to them free and clear.”

    “I won’t respond to anymore of your drivel but will report back after the investigation is over. thanks.”

    A full week later and the “investigation” complete, the NYPL and Heritage both say the card was stolen. The NYPL asked for it back and Luckey refused to give it to them “free and clear.” Despite promising to alert Net 54 as to what he was doing with the stolen card, Luckey stopped any commentary on it and issued a veiled threat to ban anyone who dares to discuss the card.

    Yet everyone else is either a “vile prick,” “fraudulent person,” “bold-faced liar” or “idiot.” Not Luckey, of course. He’s just an unemployed, convicted drug dealer who cannot tell the truth or do the right thing by the hobby.

    Comment by Scott — July 20, 2015 @ 2:28 pm

  68. One note to all of the Net54 members reading these comments: Leon has the ability to read every “private” message sent through Net54. I was a chief moderator on another sportscard chat board that used the same software. Not only is there a security hole that allows anyone who knows what he’s doing to see all PMs, there’s definitely functionality that allows moderators to do the same. If you think Leon doesn’t make good use of that feature, you’re foolish.

    Comment by Lawrence Taylor Stokes — July 20, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

  69. Lifson/Halper/Mastro/Coach in his corner…..remember SCD having them on the top of the mountain? The hobby imploded in greed.

    Comment by Weezer — July 20, 2015 @ 11:20 pm

  70. Thanks for the great investigation work HOS!

    The hobby needs to collectively revolt against dirt-bags like Leon such as NOT consigning with Brockelman & Luckey auctions and finding a new pre-war card forum. Cut off their $ since it is the only thing that they care about!

    Comment by Scott — July 21, 2015 @ 10:10 pm

  71. Where are the scans of the card graded?

    Cory on Net54 makes a damn good point: How did this card with an ink stamp on the back get graded by SGC a VG/EX 4?

    Leon: You are a piece of work! What other fraud are you engaged in?

    Comment by Ken — July 22, 2015 @ 4:36 pm

  72. I hope the FBI follows through with investigations based on this great work by Mr. Nash.

    Comment by Bill — July 23, 2015 @ 7:59 pm

  73. Leon attempting to unload the card shortly after he found out it was stolen:

    http://www.blowoutcards.com/forums/vintage/800527-wtb-all-graded-pre-war-vintage.html

    Comment by Scott — August 9, 2015 @ 6:14 pm

  74. Thanks very interestng blog!

    Comment by Alva — March 18, 2017 @ 10:45 pm

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