In the hours following the death of Elizabeth Taylor, entrepreneurs undoubtedly began looking at ways to honor – and profit from – the passing of another iconic entertainment legend. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that most memorabilia and commemorative items produced and sold in the wake of Ms. Taylor’s passing will decrease in value in the years to come.
“The death of a famous sports or entertainment figure often creates an immediate demand for items associated with that person,” said Michelle Corey, BBB of St. Louis president and CEO. “And while some artifacts may, indeed, see an increase in value over the years, most will not. Things like commemorative plates, coins and figurines manufactured to mark Ms. Taylor’s death likely will sell years from now for pennies on the dollar. If you want it for yourself or a family member, go ahead and buy it, but unless you are a very sophisticated buyer, don’t expect to sell later for a profit.”
The online auction site eBay listed nearly 10,000 Elizabeth Taylor-related items shortly after her death on Wednesday, including the domain name RememberingElizabethTaylor.com (priced at $15,000), a 1955 handwritten letter signed by Ms. Taylor ($7,500), a one-sheet movie poster from “Butterfield 8” ($1,295) and a 1952 Dixie ice cream lid with the star’s photo ($249).
The BBB noted a similar rush for memorabilia associated with Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Princess Diana, John Lennon and Michael Jackson after their deaths.
The BBB offers the following tips for persons buying collectibles or memorabilia following the death of a celebrity:
· Get educated. Collectors need to research the value of items before they begin purchasing them, especially if they want pieces with the potential for substantial appreciation in value.
· Confirm authenticity. Autographs can be verified by a third party, but for other items, the collector should feel free to ask the seller questions about the item, including how the seller came to own it. If the seller can’t answer simple questions, then the collector should walk away.
· Make purchases with a credit card. Consumers should always purchase items with a credit card if they are shopping online. If the seller turns out to be fraudulent, then the consumer can dispute the charge with the credit card company and may be eligible for reimbursement.
· Purchase items from a reputable seller. When shopping online stores, collectors should look for the BBB seal on Web sites and click on the seal to confirm its legitimacy. If there isn’t a BBB seal on the site, shoppers should always check a company out with their BBB before they buy at www.bbb.org.
· Be careful online. When purchasing items from an individual on eBay, research the seller’s track record by reading buyer reviews. When shopping on Craigslist, go local and never wire money as payment.
· Don’t be fooled by empty advertising claims. Just because the seller claims that the item is of limited edition, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t millions made. If the item is being widely advertised, chances are it’s too common to actually gain much value over the years.
For more BBB advice you can trust on shopping safely start at www.bbb.org.