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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 770-235-7638.
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