The Value of an Olympic Torch

I never thought I’d see a genuine Olympic torch up close and personal, much less sell one. But, that’s what so fun and interesting about estate sales: you never know what you’ll come across.

 

 

 

The Provenance of the Torch


Our client had been an executive assistant at the Coca Cola company for many years, and one of her various responsibilities included working with Coke’s sponsorship of the Olympic games. She’d attended and worked at many Olympics over the years, but her participation in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter games helping with the torch relay garnered a special and rare gift of appreciation: an actual relay torch.

The Origin of the Torch Relay


The purpose of the relay torch marathon is to transport the Olympic Flame from Olympia, Greece to the site of the games, wherever they are taking place that year, in time for the opening ceremony. “The Torch” is not transported the full distance, it is only used as a mean of transporting the flame which represents the spirit of the games. The concept of the torch relay was introduced and first organized by Carl Diem for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

The Salt Lake City Olympics


For the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a total of 12,012 torches were used by 12,012 torch bearers to transport the flame. In addition to the torches made for transporting the flame, many more torches (which are not part of the relay and are never lit) are made to be presented to sponsors, dignitaries, and notable supporters of the games. Our client was presented with one of these unlit torches in appreciation of her work.

Determining the Value


My journey to determine the value of this torch began with online research. There are numerous sites to find recent sale information, but the challenge was finding examples of torches that were comparable in age and condition. Our client’s torch was in pristine condition, kept in a box to protect it, and came with written provenance. I was able to find several Salt Lake City Winter Olympics torches sold for prices as low as $667.77 (some missing pieces and/or damaged) and as high as $1,160.00 (used, in good condition, with provenance). Whether the torch had been used or not did not seem to affect the sale price.

Finding a Buyer


We advertised the torch for about three weeks on a nation estate sale website and other regional sites and were able to find a buyer who paid a good price for it. I cannot disclose the price paid to my client for the torch, but the dealer who bought it went on to resell it for $1,667.77 and our client was happy with what they received for it. In this particular case, the ultimate sale price may have been affected by the torch’s connection with Coca Cola, since there are many Coke collectors worldwide.


And that’s the job of an estate sale agent – selling your client’s items for a price they’re satisfied with, or providing documentation backing up the market value if the client was expecting more.

- Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 770-235-7638.

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.

 

Average Income Estate Liquidator Business

The estate sale business is booming. This business is truly recession-proof as executors look for help in selling personal property left in an estate, as well as baby boomers who are downsizing and selling many of their belongings. In fact, baby boomers are a large part of an estate sale liquidator’s business.

Recently I read on Indeed.com that the average income for an estate sale liquidator is $66,000.

Although I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, I do know that if the estate sale agent is trained, educated and committed to hard work, they should easily exceed that $66,000 average.

Consider this: The average estate sale company charges anywhere from 25% to 40% of the total proceeds, with 30% being the norm. If the company conducts a sale with end-of-sale proceeds equaling $8,000 and they charged 30%, the estate sale company has earned $2,400 for that sale!! Of course, there are labor charges for helpers, and other expenses. But I can assure you the other expenses we pay are very low compared to other occupations.

So, let’s say the company only cleared $2,000 and they conducted 3 sales that month. Take $6,000 x 11 months you do come up with $66,000. Some sale proceeds are much higher than $8,000, and some are lower. I would say $66,000 or higher is a very nice income and you can be your own boss!

But, let me caution you that conducting a sale for someone else is a large responsibility. You are not only pricing and selling items, but you will be held responsible for every aspect of the sale. It takes ongoing education and training to maintain a successful estate sale company.

 

Does Your Insurance Cover That?

It pays to read your policy. You should have General Liability Insurance to cover injury, damage or theft during your estate sales, but do you know exactly what is covered? An incident at one of our sales lead me to take a closer look at our policy, and revealed some interesting details.

 

Guidelines for a “Partial” Sale


We were contracted to perform an estate sale for an elderly couple moving to assisted living. They were selling most, but not all, of their belongings, and they were still living in the house. Some companies don’t accept sales under these circumstances, but we do. And we have very specific rules that we clearly communicate to the client, both in our conversations and in our contract.

  1. Any items that are not to be sold must be either secured by the client, or removed from the home prior to the start of the sale.
  2. All jewelry and other valuables must be removed from the home.
  3. We are not responsible for any items left in the home that are not part of the sale.

 

An Unfortunate Occurrence


The husband showed early signs of dementia, which was confirmed by the wife. Apparently he didn’t remember our instructions about securing valuables and jewelry. He removed two rings from his fingers and left them on the bedroom dresser before the sale. Despite having workers throughout the house who are trained to watch for theft, within ten minutes of opening the sale both rings had been stolen. It only takes a moment to slip something like a ring into a pocket, and it’s gone. Naturally, both the husband and wife were distraught, and asked us to check if our insurance would cover the loss.

 

Check with Your Agent


  1. I’m familiar with our policy and was sure the theft (also called a “mysterious disappearance”) would not be covered. But when I called our insurance carrier and talked to them, I was surprised to learn a few things about our policy.
  2. If the rings had been included as part of the sale and were stolen, they probably would have been covered by our policy.
  3. If the home had been broken into and the rings (or other items included in the sale) were stolen, they would have been covered as long as there was evidence of the theft (broken door, window, etc.).
  4. If we broke or damaged an item in the home, it would have been covered by our policy.

 

A Thorough Inventory


Our insurance representative emphasized the importance of having a complete inventory of all items contracted to be sold, including photos and descriptions. You’ll have photos of larger items you use to advertise your sale, but do you have photos and descriptions of smaller, valuable items such as jewelry, coins, sterling, gold, and art? You should include photos as part of your inventory (attached to your contract), along with copies of any appraisals. This is particularly important in the case of vacant homes, since the chance of an overnight break-in is higher.

 

Check Your Policy and Contract


Even if you’re sure you know what your policy covers and what is in your standard contract, it’s always a good idea to review both from time to time. Have specific language in your contract stating that non-sale items must be removed or secured by the client, and that you are not responsible for any non-sale items left in the house. You may also want to point out to your client that a theft of this nature may not be covered by their homeowner’s policy.

  • Donna

Donna Davis has over twenty years of experience in the antiques and estate sale business, and conducts sales every weekend in the Greater Atlanta Area. She is also the Founder and Director of the National Association of Estate Liquidators, and Lead Instructor of NAOEL’s online school. You can contact Donna by email at donna@naoel.com or by phone at 800-521-8820.

Become a Member of the National Association of Estate Liquidators and enjoy all of the benefits we offer.