Collectibles Firm Accused of Holding on to Wall Street Whiz's Memorabilia
MIDTOWN EAST — He’s coming to collect.
The executor of the estate of Martin E. Zweig, the finance whiz and TV pundit who famously predicted the 1987 stock market crash, claims a collectibles business won’t return some of the famed investor’s valuable memorabilia, including Mickey Mantle’s last home run bat and a jersey worn by Michael Jordan.
Midtown East business Gotta Have It! owes Zweig's estate $676,081, largely from pocketing money Zweig gave it to buy two original baseball contracts signed by trailblazing Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson, estate executor Robert E. Smith claims in documents filed last week in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.
In 2000, Zweig purchased more than a dozen collectibles from Gotta Have It!, and instructed the business to hold on to items for possible resale, Smith said.
The purchased mementos included:
• Three of Bob Dylan’s high school yearbooks, for $6,000
• Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls home jersey for the 1992-1993 season, for $4,850
• A Walt Disney projector, for $10,000
• Gangster John Dillinger’s reform school questionnaire, for $14,500
• Mickey Mantle’s last home run bat, for $7,250.
• A jacket owned by cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody, for $7,950
• A signed photograph of President John F. Kennedy, for $9,450
• Three of singer Buddy Holly’s yearbooks, for $14,000
• A class photo of Holly, for $1,000
• A letter written by eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes, for $3,250
• A signed record by singer Richie Valens, for $3,900
• A letter written by French artist Henri Matisse, for $3,050
• Ty Cobb postcards, for $8,500
• Memorabilia of the Pat Garrett Group, for $3,000
After Zweig’s death in February 2013, his estate asked that the items be returned, but Smith claims Gotta Have It! only gave back the Disney projector, Cody’s jacket, the Buddy Holly yearbooks and two of the three Cobb postcards.
Smith’s filing accuses the company of falsely claiming it had returned most of the other items while Zweig was alive.
Gotta Have It! claimed it could not locate the Pat Garrett memorabilia or the Matisse letter, according to the filing. The firm said it donated the Mantle bat to a charity auction, the filing says.
Smith, who worked for Zweig’s investment firm, says that in February 2012 Zweig and Gotta Have It! agreed that the memorabilia company would try to purchase two of Robinson’s baseball contracts for $1.25 million. A month later, Gotta Have It! bought the contracts and agreed to hold on to them for Zweig for possible resale.
After Zweig’s death, Smith says Gotta Have It! informed the estate it had found a buyer for the contracts and sold them on April 2013 to a company called Collector’s Coffee Inc.
The filing says that Smith later learned that when Gotta Have It! initially bought Robinson’s contracts on behalf of Zweig, it only spent $750,000 of the $1.25 million and wrongfully kept the remaining $500,000.
Peter Siegel, a co-founder of Gotta Have It!, told DNAinfo New York the allegations were not true.
“It’s completely misconstrued,” Siegel said, adding that he and Zweig were friends for more than 20 years. “He was like a brother to me.”
A lawyer for Smith did not respond to a request for comment.
Zweig, who wrote two popular investing books, died at 70 on Feb. 18, 2013. Three days before the Oct. 19, 1987, stock market crash, he appeared on television predicting the financial nosedive.
His forecasts and stock picks made him a multimillionaire with enough money to purchase a triplex penthouse in the Upper East Side's Pierre Hotel in 1999 for a then-record $21.5 million. He decorated the home with his collection of cultural and sports memorabilia, according to his obituary in the New York Times.
The apartment was listed for sale at $125 million in April 2013. Its price was dropped in December to $95 million.