Mile High II Collection Part V

This week's column is installment #5 in the story of the 1985 purchase of the Mile High II collection.

On the drive back to the airport, I broached to the seller the question of how low he was willing to go in order to get this deal done. He explained to me that his father had given him power-of-attorney to sell the books for him, but that the writ expired the day his father left prison. His father was ostensibly paying him a commission for finding a buyer for his comics, but only if the deal could be consummated within the (approximately) six week time frame before his upcoming release. He further revealed to me that his father was notoriously cranky and arbitrary, so it was questionable if any deal could be made on the comics once he was released. The father had also remarried before going to prison, and the new wife and the seller did not get along. From this discussion it became very clear to me that it was in both of our best interests to conclude a deal for these comics before his father was released.

Since he had already revealed to me that his only offer to date for the comics was a pitiful $85,000 (5 cents per book) from a consortium of New York City comics dealers, I decided to make a bold offer. I proposed a down payment of $100,000 (my entire potential new credit line...), plus a two-year promissory note from Mile High Comics, Inc. for an additional $140,000. This would make my payment for what I estimated to be 1,700,000 comics a total of $240,000, or about 14 cents per book. While this was less than the 25 cents per book he'd been seeking originally, it was absolutely the most I could afford to pay. In fact, as I will reveal in more detail in a later chapter of this story, by paying that much for the deal I actually ended up leaving myself far too little in remaining working capital to even sort the comics.

In point of fact, this very substantial offer on my part was born more out of fear, then from any specific profit motive. I knew good and well that I could make a great profit on this deal, but what had me far more inspired to climb out on a very dangerous financial limb was a threat that the seller had made to me during our very first telephone discussion. When I had originally balked at the 25 cents per book price that he was asking, he then threatened to break the deal up into five parts, and sell one fifth of the books to five different East Coast back issue dealers. Had he followed through on that threat, that massive quantity of Silver Age comics flooding the market at one time might well very have put me out of business. Bear in mind that by this point in time I had sold all my retail stores, and had staked the entire future of Mile High Comics on selling back issue comics by mail order. I could ill afford to see that massive load of old comics end up in the hands of five potential competitors.

After I made my $240,000 offer, the seller put up token resistance for a few minutes, and then willingly agreed. Given that my proposal was nearly triple his only other offer, I could see no way that he could refuse. Once we had the pricing issue settled, I then explained to him that I had to work out the arrangements with my bank for the necessary credit line to fund the down payment. As a part of my dealings with the bank, we would absolutely need a notarized letter from the Factor who had funded the family's book remainders company, releasing all claims on the comics. Otherwise, I could see no way that the bank would let me risk their money. To my extreme surprise, the seller told me that getting this letter would not be a problem. Give him a week he promised, and I would have my release of claims letter from the Factor. With that promise still ringing in my ears, he dropped me off at my terminal at La Guardia airport. Now all I had to do was to fly home and convince my banker, my lawyer, my CPA, and my wife, Nanette, that I wasn't insane.

To be continued...

Please send your e-mails to chuck@milehighcomics.com, and your letters to:

Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221



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