This week's column is Chapter #8 of the story of the 1985 purchase of the Mile High II collection.
After my visit to the office of the seller's attorney, we were no closer to making a deal for the
warehouse full of comics. In fact, the lawyer strongly advised the son to not sell his father's
comics to us, despite the fact that just the $100,000 down payment portion of our offer was greater
by $20,000 than any other total offer they had received for the comics. By this point in time, I
was becoming thoroughly steamed. I had been in New York for nearly a week, arguing about the terms
of a deal that should have been a no-brainer right from the start. Every time I turned around, the
seller wanted me to change this, or that, in the contract so it unreasonably favored their position,
and I had to steadfastly refuse to budge. Meanwhile, the meter was running on my expenses, as I had
to renew the rental agreement on my car, and pay far more in hotel bills and meal costs for my team
than I had built into my original budget. The dispatchers were also constantly calling me from my
truck line, wanting to know when they could send over the four 53' long trucks I had reserved.
Making this situation even worse, the seller's father was going to be released from prison the
following week. The son had told me that once the old man was out of jail, his power-of-attorney
agreement ended. Clearly, this nonsense had to cease.
At 4:30 on Friday afternoon, I finally played my last cards. We were sitting in a small cafe, still
at loggerheads about certain key issues in the deal. My bank and my attorney had both told me not to
complete a deal with the seller unless we could get it notarized. I knew that finding a notary after
5 PM on a Friday, in a small New York suburb, was going to be really tough, but I thought that I
would give this deal one last shot. I reached in my pocket and pulled out a white envelope. Inside
were 20 one hundred dollar bills. I carefully fanned them out on the table in front of the seller.
I then told him that if we could finally agree on the terms as set out in our contract, and find
notary who would sign off on the deal that afternoon, that the $100 bills were his to do with as he
wished. If, however, we didn't complete the deal right then and there, I was taking the $100,000 in
cashier's checks I had brought with me made out in his father's name, and my $2,000 in cash, and
Not surprisingly, the cash had a mesmerizing effect on the seller. One fact he had let slip to me
during our negotiations was that he was dubious if he could actually collect the commission on the
sale that he had been promised by his father. I find that sort of familial distrust to be quite
alien, but apparently the seller and his father's new wife didn't get along at all. As a result, he
didn't feel that he could really rely on his father's promise to pay him the percentage of the
proceeds of the deal that he had been promised. In fact, he was concerned that his father might be
released in such poor health that the new wife might be appointed his conservator. In that case, he
thought he might get nothing at all.
Seeing that he was definitely wavering after I fanned out the cash, I then hit him with an incredibly
generous offer. The seller had two young sons. One concern he had expressed to me was that the Factor
who had liens on all their other business and personal assets might seek court action to take away
everything that the family owned (that fear eventually turned out to be true). He had also told me
at some point during the negotiations that he sincerely regretted that he had been unable to pull out
one each of the comics in the deal for his sons. What I offered him was that if he signed the deal
right then and there, that I would send him two copies of every book I received in the deal
(regardless of how many total copies I received of each book...), as long as he would pay me the
shipping costs for sending them back to him. Directly as a result of the lure of the immediate cash,
and the offer of the free books for his sons, the seller finally agreed to sign the deal. We left the
cafe immediately, and spent a frantic 45 minutes searching for a notary. All the banks and insurance
companies were closed, but we finally found one real estate office still open, and tipped the office
manager $50 for notarizing all the copies of the contract. I was 30 years old, and I had just
purchased one and a half million old comics!
After we signed the deal, we went back to our hotel, and the seller headed for home. We were to go
to dinner, and then join him around 8 PM. While the seller knew relatively little about comics, he
did know enough to recognize that X-Men titles were generally more valuable than other comics. As a
result, he had stashed about 3,000 old X-Men comics at his house. My first goal was to secure those
books. After we had eaten, Mike Kott and I drove to the seller's house. His wife greeted us at the
door, looking remarkably healthy and happy. This was a real surprise, as she had been a constant
annoyance all week, calling the seller regularly during our negotiations to ask if the deal was
done yet, and complaining about terrible nausea. Her swift recovery from her debilitating illness
was quite amazing. The seller was also now in an excellent mood, bouncing off the walls with
enthusiasm. Sadly for me, however, there were inexplicably fewer X-Men issues to pick up at the
house than I had originally estimated were in the deal. Not wishing to make waves, I quietly picked
up the books that were there, and then started planning for the next day.
To be continued...
Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221