Former Yankees Partner Tied to Stolen Vintage Boston Red Stockings Photo
The late Barry Halper, a well known baseball memorabilia collector and one time co-owner of the New York Yankees, is once again in the news for questionable circumstances surrounding his memorabilia collection.
A photograph of the 1889 Boston Red Stockings that once sold for $6,235 was one of 40 items stolen from the Boston Public Library. The rare photo was part of a $21.8 million 1999 auction of much of Halper's memorabilia conducted by the famed Sotheby's auction house, and was on a list of numerous missing baseball pictures that includes one of the 1912 Red Sox and another of the Boston team that won the first modern World Series in 1903.
The Boston Herald has been conducting an ongoing series of articles detailing pieces from that auction that have subsequently turned out to be stolen. Earlier this month, the paper reported that one of the earliest known professional sports contracts, an 1879 deal between E.B. Sutton and the Boston Beaneaters, was stolen from the New York Public Library.
Even Halper items outside of the Sotheby's auction have come under suspicion. Award-winning former Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell used a recent column for the Detroit Free Press to touch on a Ty Cobb diary donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame that was discovered to be a forgery, and Major League Baseball had to cancel an auction that was scheduled for All-Star game weekend while the FBI investigates whether that memorabilia was in fact stolen as well.
Halper passed away in December 2005 at age 66 from complications of diabetes. At its height, his collection totaled more than 80,000 items, highlighted by game-worn uniforms from baseball legends Cy Young, Walter Johnson and Mickey Mantle.
Other pieces of note included the jersey worn by Lou Gehrig during his farewell speech, the contract from Babe Ruth's infamous sale from the Red Sox to the Yankees and the Holy Grail of baseball cards, a T206 Honus Wagner tobacco card.