Barry Halper (December 3, 1939 - December 18, 2005) was an extensive collector of baseball memorabilia who had been a limited partner owning about 1% of the New York Yankees.[1] During the auction of the collection, Sotheby's Auction House called it the "World Series of Sports Auctions."[2]


Halper was born in 1939 and raised in Newark, New Jersey, living near Ruppert Stadium, home of the Newark Bears, then the Triple-A minor league farm team of the New York Yankees.[3]

Halper attended the University of Miami, where he was a pitcher for the baseball team. He then went into the his family's paper supply business, where he worked until the company closed in 1992.[4]

A resident of New Vernon, New Jersey at the time of his death, Halper had been a longtime resident of Livingston, New Jersey.[5] George Steinbrenner called Halper "a great baseball fan" who was a "dear friend, a valued partner for many years and a decent, genuine person".[1]

Barry Halper died at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey at the age of 66, in 2005 due to complications from diabetes.[4][6]



Barry Halper (circa 1984) with some of his baseball treasures.

Halper's baseball memorabilia collection was thought of as the finest, being both extensive and unusual. Many items, such as the uncut strip of T-206 cards with a Honus Wagner, were one of a kind. Halper's collection was housed in his basement, which had been outfitted like a small museum, including a hidden switch to a swing open panel, behind which were some of his most game-worn jerseys of famous players. The collection of game used jerseys included the only known examples of such players as Pud Galvin, Christy Mathewson, Cap Anson, King Kelly, Dan Brouthers, and the famed trio of Tinker / Evers / Chance. The infamous Joe Jackson was represented with jerseys from his minor league team as well as his Cleveland Indians jersey. The collection of dead ball era player jerseys was unrivaled.

Some of the notable items in Halper's collection included:[2]

Following the Sotheby's auction, Halper remarked:

It makes me feel so proud that my collection will be carried on by everyone who participated in the past week's sale. I am also glad that the Hall of Fame has part of my collection where it will reside in perpetuity.[2]

Sotheby's released a three-volume book, The Barry Halper Collection of Baseball Memorabilia, that included over 1,500 color photographs of the collection, giving history for many of the items, details about Halper's collection through the years, and a history of baseball.[7][8]

In 1998, Halper sold the collection, with Major League Baseball purchasing many items, donating them to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The rest were auctioned off by Sotheby's for a record 21.8 million USD.[1][2]


In October of 2010, Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn told the New York Post that a Halper-donated jersey, supposedly worn by Shoeless Joe Jackson, was a fake. Horn stated that the logo utilized acrylic coloring first created in 1941. The jersey had been removed from display in 2008.[9] Issues of authenticity have been raised with other auctioned items, including items purported to belong to Cy Young[10], Joe Dimaggio[11], Mickey Mantle[12], Ty Cobb[13] [14], and others.

Subsequent reports alleged that scores of items in Halper's collection had been stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame, the New York Public Library, or other institutions. [15] [16] [17] [18] There have also been allegations that items in his collection were stolen from the wives or family members of deceased baseball stars.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Associated Press. "Baseball collector Barry Halper dies", USA Today, December 19, 2005. Retrieved on November 17, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Collectors Universe, Inc. (1999). Sotheby's Wins World Series Of Sports Auctions: Barry Halper Collection Totals $21,812,577. Collectors Universe, Inc.. Archived from the original on February 8, 2008. Retrieved on November 17, 2007.
  3. Shouler, Ken. "Diamond Dreams: Baseball Memorabilia", Cigar Aficionado, September / October 1987. Accessed February 24, 2011. "Born Dec. 3, 1939, Barry Halper grew up near RupertTemplate:Sic Stadium, a semipro baseball park in Newark, New Jersey."
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ron Kaplan (2005). Sports memorabilia maven Barry Halper is remembered for what he gave. New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved on October 24, 2008.
  5. Goldstein, Richard. "Barry Halper, Baseball Memorabilia Collector, Dies at 66", The New York Times, December 20, 2005. Accessed February 24, 2011. "He once owned at least 80,000 baseball items, most having been displayed at his former home in Livingston, where a visitor pressing the front doorbell heard a rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame.'"
  6. via Associated Press. "Barry Halper, noted memorabilia collector, dies at 66", ESPN, December 19, 2005. Accessed February 24, 2011.
  7. Sotheby's, Sotheby's (1999). The Barry Halper Collection of Baseball Memorabilia. New York: Sotheby's, 930 pages.
  8. Golenbock, Peter (2000). Barry Halper Collection of Baseball Memorabilia. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 928 pages.
  9. Bill Sanderson (2010). Sox your knockoff. New York Post. Retrieved on November 10, 2010.
  10. Staff Report (2010). The Top 10 Fakes and Frauds in the Barry Halper Baseball Collection. Hauls of Shame weblog. Retrieved on November 10, 2010.
  11. Michael O'Keefe (2005). DiMaggio mitt at center of latest memorabilia firestorm. New York Daily News. Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  12. Michael O'Keefe (2003). Buyer Beware: Crystal's glove affair a lesson for Mantle Auction. New York Daily News. Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  13. Ron Keurajian (2010). Ernie Harwell Autographs. Autograph Magazine. Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  14. Cobb Diary in Halper Collection Was a Fake. Sports Collectors Daily (2009). Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  15. Dave Wedge (2009). Stolen Boston memorabilia traced back to dead Yankees owner. Boston Herald. Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  16. Louisville Slugger: stolen contracts sold to collector. Associated Press (2000). Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  17. Stolen Items Part of ‘99 Halper Auction. Sports Collectors Daily (2009). Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  18. Peter J. Nash (2011). The Halper HOT 100: The Top 100 Stolen Baseball Memorabilia Items Once Owned By Collector Barry Halper. Hauls of Shame weblog. Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
  19. Pete Nash (2011). The Messy History Of Charlie Sheen’s "Winning" Ring. Deadspin. Retrieved on March 4, 2011.
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