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Small chunk of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia sells for more than $450,000

Shawn Chaulk shows off the main attraction of his enormous collection of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia...

Shawn Chaulk shows off the main attraction of his enormous collection of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia in his basement. (JORDAN THOMPSON/QMI Agency)

ANDREW BATES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:57 PM ET

FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA. - His collection is the great one.

And now the Fort McMurray man who boasted one of the world's best and highly-sought after collections of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia has netted more than $450,000 at an auction — and he said he only sold roughly 20% of his massive collection.

Shawn Chaulk, a 46-year old who owns a local construction company, contributed about 25 pieces of Gretzky memorabilia to a Montreal auctioner’s spring event. Chaulk estimates the items are about 20% of the value of his collection, which includes about 100 jerseys and 90 sticks.

“It’s amazing. Auctions are a funny creature,” Chaulk said. “When you put your stuff in there’s always a risk, and quite often the things you think you’re going to do really well only do average and sometimes the things you think will do average really do well. There’s no real explaining, with auctions.”

The haul includes several pieces from the Great One’s pivotal 1986-87 season with the Edmonton Oilers: gloves (two pairs, sold for $13,155 each) skates ($19,489), the puck with which he scored his 500th goal ($22,413) and the jersey he wore both when he broke the 500-goal mark and when he lifted the 1987 Stanley Cup, which went for a cool $297,995 before auction fees.

Bidders are anonymous, so Chaulk largely doesn’t know who will walk away with the historic equipment. However, he did say that the 500-goal puck and the first NHL puck used by the Edmonton Oilers in 1979 will be staying in Fort McMurray, after the two sets of buyers dropped him a line to let him know they’re in town.

“I thought it was really cool that a couple of local people stepped up to have a piece of it,” Chaulk said.

Some items outperformed expectations, like a Gretzky practice jersey that he predicted would go for between $5,000 and $10,000 (26 bids later, he landed $14,150) and an equipment bag used by the Great One.

“I offered it to a guy a few weeks before the auction for $2,000, he hemmed and hawed and I finally just sent it to the auction with the rest and it sold for almost $10,000,” he said. “More than double what I expected in some cases. Significantly more.”

Chaulk says it was never his intention to get out of what he referred to as “the hobby,” but downsizing his collection was a decision he made for a number of reasons. For one, the dream home he was building for his family would have a smaller hockey room to display his treasure horde; for another, the collection, some of which is uninsurable, was getting too valuable.

“You go to bed at night ... and think, oh my god, if we have a catastrophe, that’s all gone and unrecoverable,” he said. “That started to play on my mind a little bit. We had two basement floods in the spring of this year. Luckily nothing got damaged, but it could have. We started to realize that it’s so easy to lose it all.”

So how do pieces of hockey history make it from iconic photographs to basement galleries like Chaulk’s? Players will consign their equipment to auction houses like Classic Auctions, who handled Chaulk’s memorabilia, and collectors root through them for a good find.

“I have a stick in my stick rack that once belonged to Marcel Dionne’s kid,” he said. “When Marcel Dionne auctioned off his stuff, it was just another stick in the rack and it got sold. But it’s a Gretzky stick that’s signed on the blade to Marcel’s kid, right?”

Chaulk also says being high profile has paid off immensely. “One thing I’ve always been with my collection is public. I’ve never turned down an opportunity to be written up,” he said.

“That’s how a lot of stuff comes to me. Word is out that I am building this great collection, so people think, I can make a buck and I don’t need the thing, so they call me.”

He said he doesn’t plan to leave the tight-knit online collecting community, and says friends have suggested he write a book or start a website for researchers. He doesn’t have a plan for the money he earned from the auction.

“The cardinal rule of collecting is never spend an amount of money on something you’re afraid to lose or not get back. I never counted, really, on needing the money at any point for anything,” he said. “So it’ll just get put away. I have three kids to get through school. Who knows.”

But the man who says he still has the world’s greatest stick collection may not ever really be done with “the hobby.”

“You never turn down a good deal,” he said. “Even though I’ve collected all my life ... when something comes by that’s the right deal, you’re still going to take it, and I still will.”


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