Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

January 29, 2019

Ken Goldin and Goldin Auctions were planning on selling the two historic Brooklyn Dodger contracts from 1945 and 1947 which document the breaking of Baseball’s color barrier by Jackie Robinson.  The auction was scheduled for January 31st, however, the sale has been abruptly postponed via a press release issued by the auction house over the weekend.

The same contracts failed to sell last year when Goldin offered them in association with the Jackie Robinson Foundation for a minimum bid of $15 million despite allegations and strong evidence suggesting the documents were property of the Los Angeles Dodgers and stolen from the archives at Dodger Stadium. Hauls of Shame has already published two investigative reports chronicling the controversy over scores of other documents in the marketplace which appear to have been stolen from the Dodger archives and the sketchy and alleged fraudulent provenance attached to the two Robinson contracts during previous sales and promotions orchestrated by Ken Goldin and the contracts owner Mykalai Kontilai of Collectors Cafe.

Goldin was trying to auction off the same contracts this Friday for a minimum bid of $5 million despite stating that the auction lot had received an opening bid of $15 million when he offered them in February of 2018.  After that failed sale he told former ESPN reporter Darren Rovell via Twitter, “Reserve was in excess of $16 million and cannot be publicly disclosed.” In addition, when it came to the provenance of the contracts this time around, Goldin didn’t include any background information whatsoever.  In the now removed auction listing, there were no references to the unnamed Brooklyn historian they were originally attributed to nor was there any mention of the prior owners like Martin Zweig or lawsuits associated with the same contracts. The only thing Goldin mentioned in the lot’s appraisal section was an unsubstantiated claim that the contracts were “one of only two copies, the other one having been lost.” In reality, the contracts Goldin is offering are stamped and signed by Baseball executives and appear to be the Dodger team contracts ratified by the National League.  The “lost” contracts Goldin referred to would have been the personal copies which Robinson, himself, would have retained.

One thing that is clear in the proposed sale of the documents this time around is that the lot’s owner, Mykalai Kontilai of Collectors Cafe, is neither mentioned or seen anywhere.  In stark contrast to his very public promotion of the contracts in the past alongside legendary broadcaster Larry King, Kontilai is nowhere to be found. Kontilai’s absence, however, could be due to the filing of a lawsuit this past summer in California against himself and his company by a Los Angeles investor named Mehrdad Taghdiri. In the complaint filed on June 12, 2018, Taghdiri alleges that Kontilai fraudulently induced him to invest in a Private Placement Memorandum related to the partial ownership of the Robinson contracts.  The complaint also claims that the investment was induced by the involvement and “enthusiastic participation” of Larry King who hosted a video presentation promoting Collectors Coffee Inc’s business. Kontilai, in addition to being missing in action related to promotions by Goldin for the sale of the contracts, had still not been served Taghdiri’s lawsuit as of last October 23rd when his attorneys won a motion to extend time to serve process and for leave to serve Kontilai by publication. Court papers reveal that after numerous unsuccessful service attempts were made in Nevada, Taghdiri’s lawyers have accused Kontilai of intentionally avoiding service.

A lawsuit filed in California (left) alleges that Mykalai Kontilai (right) defrauded an investor who purchased stock in the company he claimed owns the historic Jackie Robinson contracts.

The lawsuit alleges that Taghdiri purchased 125,000 shares of non-voting Collectors Coffee Inc. stock for $250,000 due to representations made by Kontilai that the company owned the Jackie Robinson contracts and that the contracts had an appraised value of $36 million.  Taghdiri, however, alleges that Kontilai and Collectors Coffee Inc. failed to secure “authenticity insurance policies with partner insurance companies” including Lloyd’s of London and Chubb and that they “had no reasonable grounds to believe that the Jackie Robinson contracts could be sold for an amount anywhere close to $36 million.” Taghdiri also alleges that the company doesn’t even own a majority stake in the contracts and that Kontilai used the $250,000 to fund his “day to day living expenses and lavish lifestyle.”

The complaint states that in May of 2018 Taghdiri learned that 10% of the proceeds from any sale of the contracts had been pledged to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and that another 10% would be paid directly to Larry King. Taghdiri also claims that another 40% “would be payable to a previously undisclosed investor group headed by an individual known as Steven Jackson” and that the remaining 40% was said to be split up equally by Kontilai and Collectors Coffee.

Ken Goldin appeared on CBS Morning News announcing a postponement of the auction for the Robinson contracts. It is not clear what the Board of Directors of the Jackie Robinson knows about the current litigation against Goldin's consignor.

Last week, Hauls of Shame reached out to Taghdiri’s legal counsel in Los Angeles but his attorneys, Guy Nicholson and Lori Brody, have yet to issue a statement regarding the lawsuit and the postponed Goldin sale.  Hauls of Shame also contacted the Jackie Robinson Foundation for comment and its President and CEO, Della Britton Baeza, responded stating, “Obviously we are hoping that the contracts sell for as much as possible, since we stand to receive 10% of the sale price.” Although HOS sent the foundation a copy of the Taghdiri lawsuit, they did not address that issue or the allegations that the contracts were stolen. The proposed sale coincides with the 100th anniversary of Robinson’s birth in 1919 and the foundation is currently managing its planned festivities. Britton Baeza added, “We also hope that the buyer is willing to donate them for our upcoming Jackie Robinson Museum.”

In a press release posted on the PSA website, Ken Goldin states that the reason for the postponement is “to negotiate a deal to put the contracts on permanent public display.” CBS News reported on Saturday that “an anonymous party approached Goldin about buying the contract outright with the stipulation it would be displayed publicly.” CBS also repeated the highly disputed valuation of $36 million on the contracts via an unsubstantiated appraisal by Seth Kaller.  That disputed appraisal price is part of the current litigation against Goldin’s consignor. In the new press release, Goldin says the contracts have been “insured and appraised by Chubb for $36 million.”

Goldin did not mention any specific price allegedly being negotiated with the anonymous party and added in the press release, “Rather than using the auction as a deadline, we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to postpone the auction during negotiations.” Goldin responded to our inquiry about the litigation stating, “Thanks for the info. I would never be unprofessional as to comment on a consignor or bidders personal business matters.”  Goldin did not respond to another question asking when he first learned of the current litigation. Goldin has given no indication that the current postponement is related to the consignor’s litigation. There has also been no indication that the Los Angeles Dodgers or MLB have attempted to recover the historic documents.


2 Comments »

  1. But it was all lies. Uh, everything. And I kept saying Jackie Robinson did this and Jackie Robinson did that. So, I said yeah sure — why not?

    Comment by Frank Pentangeli — January 29, 2019 @ 10:55 am

  2. Ken Goldin = Valued Net54 advertiser.

    Surprised?

    Comment by Texas National — February 4, 2019 @ 9:13 pm

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