Auctions and Publishing

As fun and rewarding as our foray into publishing has been, our bread and butter remains the auctions. For now at least.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo auction went as well as can be expected. It’s a four year old movie with no hope of a sequel, as David Fincher has essentially moved on from the franchise and the stars were only committed to the project as long as Fincher helmed it. The interest level in the costumes and props was lukewarm, given the contemporary costumes. The props, along with jewelry, actually outperformed the wardrobe. In the end, we still sold every lot.

Now comes the Pixels auction, which from a visual standpoint offers a “better” collection. Of course, the movie was not great. What it does have going for it, though, is Peter Dinklage, cameos by Dan Aykroyd and Serena Williams, and aliens in the forms of vintage 1980s video games. The props are original and the “Arcaders” jumpsuits are visually striking.

We expect to have this auction by mid-November before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Seriously, don’t fuck with me.”

This is the letter Stanley Kubrick wrote to James T. Aubrey, Jr. of M.G.M. objecting to the proposed sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban has shown himself to be a savvy businessman and sports owner. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind and he’s been candid with controversial issues no matter the public opinion. I don’t agree with many of his positions in politics and pro-business policies, but I respect his principles. Today he sent out a message through his app, Cyber Dust, that made me respect him even more. Here it is unedited and in full:

I am so ready for the Mavs season to start. Until then the sport of the day is politics. Today’s game is trashing the Republican Party

I would prefer to be a Republican. I want smaller government. I want smarter government. Just like most Republicans
Put aside that I disagree with Republicans on most social issues. The Republicans have a much bigger problem that will crush them in every Presidential election until this changes.

The Republican Party requires that all their Presidential candidates Conform to Consensus.
If you don’t agree with every platform of the party not only are you called a RINO, a “Republican in Name Only. You are considered unelectable in primaries and become a source of scorn on Fox News

That’s a problem.

Leaders don’t conform to the consensus. They create consensus to their vision and goals.
Leaders don’t change their positions mid debate. They welcome scorn from the masses because it creates the opportunity for dialogue.

Leaders don’t look backwards to condemn what has already been done, they look forward to create a better future.

Leaders are not dogmatic. They are principled and know that change is never easy, but when it’s necessary, they must lead.

The Republican Party does everything possible to discourage leadership.

They want dogma.

They want conformity.

They want to conserve their romanticized past.

That’s a shame. I wish they wanted to conserve the best of what America is today and find a leader that can take us to new places that make our future better.

I realize that’s not the way politics work in this day and age. And that just proves the point.

And btw, I know a lot of the same can be said about the democrats, but I don’t want to be a democrat.

Until things change, I’ll sit in the middle and think for myself. Unlike the Republicans


Google Inc. has rebranded itself as Alphabet Inc.

Alphabet Inc. sounds James Bond-villainy… In fact, when you think about the size of the new conglomeration, the ever pervasiveness, and the vast resources–not to mention control in the form of data and influence–it has wide-world, Alphabet does appear to be S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-ish.

Or Evil Corp.-ish (from the television show Mr. Robot), which would be ironic. Because, you know, of Google’s infamous mission statement: Don’t be evil.


The following is an email sent today by Adam Schneider, a prominent Star Trek prop collector, to “about 40 of [his] ‘prop’ friends.” It is also being concurrently posted in various Trek and prop collecting forums on the Internet. I thought I would help do the public a service by posting it here as well:


I am sending this to about 40 of my “prop” friends.  I will post it at the same time in the various Trek and prop collecting forums.  I’ll start with facts and put my opinions at the end.

I have been a prop collector since the 2006 Christie’s Trek auction.  Since then I have made many collecting friends, participated in Trek conventions and become involved with the franchise.  I have tried to add to the community… by dealing fairly with all, by buying, restoring, and donating Galileo, and by assisting the Smithsonian with restoring the original Starship Enterprise.

This last weekend was the Creation Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas.  I was deeply disturbed by two events which challenge my perception of Propworx as an organization to do business with.

On Saturday August 8, Creation held a “no minimum bid” auction, and one piece was screen-used.  The bidding stalled at $250.  However, Propworx CEO Alec Peters continually bid against the winner until it reached $1,000.  Alec said he had a “fiduciary obligation” to the seller…. on a “no minimum bid” auction!  To say it again – Alec bid up an item because he promised a certain outcome.   (By the way, unless Alec was contractually working for the seller, there is no such fiduciary obligation.)

The next day Propworx held their auction.  There were about 70 people watching and bidding in person and more on the internet.  Alec asked for questions.  I asked two, and to the best of my recollection, this was the exchange.

I asked:  Is there any reserve on any of the items?   Answer:  No.

I asked:  Are you, or any agent of yours, or your girlfriend sitting in the corner typing on the internet, bidding against buyers on these items?    Answer:  Propworx makes proxy bids.

The exchange was heard by those 70 people including many prominent collectors.  Yes, the Propworx CEO stated in public that they do bid against buyers.

My take:  Propworx is making bids against its customers without any disclosure.   Propworx is actively raising prices and in the process unjustly enriching themselves.  It is like a reserve that increases if collectors are interested!  It is inherently unfair to buyers.

I am not a lawyer, but this sure seems like fraud.  I have checked the terms and conditions for the auction and none of this is disclosed.  In fact, it seems quite clear in person that they are managing their bids versus active client bids (most from the internet) so as to maximize revenue.  The cost of Propworx’s bidding is being borne by its customers.

Fellow collectors:

We should ask Propworx to disclose ALL such bidding for its prior auctions.

In all cases where Propworx or its agent is the underbidder, collectors should only be asked to pay the “last good bid”.

Propworx should cease this behavior and if they do not, you as the buyer stop doing business with them. 

Thank you,
Adam Schneider

Living History

One of the most difficult thing in academia (and life) is to put events into historical context and perspective as they happen. Even recent history is difficult to grasp, because the full repercussions of any event takes time to manifest and unfold.

However, if we do not engage in pontification, then how will pundits make a living?

Every so often, though, an interesting discussion will germinate like a tasty sprout among the weeds. Take this Medium article on neoliberalism and the phases of capitalism by Paul Mason. The year 2008 will take its place in history as a momentous occasion, as it is consensually considered the beginning of the Great Recession. Mason has declared that 2008 is also the start of the fourth phase of neoliberalism:

“The fourth phase of neoliberalism begins in 2008, when they have to abandon the pretence that the market self-corrects, use the state to prop up the banking system, socialising the risks but privatising the gains, and then they design the only stimulus policy available — QE — in a way that enriches the elite first and revives growth much later.”

A quick read of Mason’s writings will tell you that he’s left-leaning. A deeper reading will tell you that he’s probably not a big fan of capitalism. In a speech earlier this year marking the release of Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, Mason said “capitalism is dying.”

If true, the elite that Mason rail against will be doing everything they can to clutch onto their wealth. We should be seeing governmental policies that trend that way, and we have. With theoretical models, evidence is used to both corroborate and shape the model. Mason’s declarations certainly have plenty of evidential support: the increasing wealth of the 1% while overall growth stalls, the trend of union busting around the world, social justice unrest, the arming of the police, among others.

Of course, his model is not perfect, but he is first to concede that. After all, Mason wants an open discussion and as conscientious citizens we should all take part in the conversation. And if we don’t feel like it, there’s social media, pop news and sports to occupy our time.

Work Update

A little bit of work update… We’re diligently pushing ahead with preparations for DON-CON. More guests have been added, with more to come. We now have two sponsors, Creature Revenge Studios and Monsterpalooza. We also have interest in the art show, which we will begin pushing in earnest next week. We are exactly 3 months from the show and I suspect things will move fairly quickly now.

Similarly, the pace has picked up on The Illustrated History of Don Post Studios book. The files are in the hands of our printing partner now and the books are projected to be here by late October, in time for DON-CON. Sales were robust early and have tapered off a little. However, we haven’t really begun fully marketing the book. We will do so this coming week with ads and strategic partnerships.

Meanwhile, we’re still cataloging the costumes and props from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Photography has started, but took a back seat this week due to other things taking precedence. We will shift into a higher gear in that department towards the later part of next week.

So there you have it. All the pieces are moving forward, unevenly perhaps, but progress nonetheless. I’m also updating the websites (don-con.com, donpostbook.com and blacksparrowinc.com) for each project concurrently, as well as administering the social media. Sometimes I wondered if I should have consolidated all these properties under one website and one social media account. It would have been easier to manage.

But, alas, what’s easy isn’t always what’s right.

The G.O.P.

Paul Krugman has an astute observation of the current state of Republicanism. The money statement: “Talking nonsense is what you have to do to get anywhere in today’s Republican Party.”

There are a lot of merits for conservative values. A healthy country comes from a legitimate balance of conservative values and progressive ideas. You spend responsibly, but you don’t sacrifice our civil liberties. You reform the tax codes, but you don’t shut down programs that millions depend on. You can grow our economy without forgetting about education. And religious freedom means you are free to worship whoever you desire without discriminating against another person.

A healthy mix of conservative values balanced with liberal ideas.

This crop of Republican presidential candidates is an attack on conservatism. It’s become a party you can’t take seriously. I mean, really, when did being smart become a bad thing? (Jeb Bush decried that Obama uses too many big words, but he isn’t the first to use Obama’s smarts as a negative. See the entire 2012 election.) More from Krugman: “It’s a party that has no room for rational positions on many major issues.” This crop of Republican presidential candidates is an attack on conservatism, because the level-headed Republicans have been silenced, lest they risk being tarred and feathered by the lynch mob of the New Republicans.

I suspect independent voters will be more important than ever in next year’s general election. True independent voters are thoughtful, rational and educated. They are not swayed by bullshit. That’s why they are independent and do not adhere to the demagogy of one political party. In this election, it would be difficult to imagine a true independent would choose what the Republicans have to offer.

Finally, here’s a rough transcript of Jon Stewart’s epic “Bullshit is everywhere” farewell monologue:


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Auction



Debris have been found in the Indian Ocean that could be from Malaysia Flight MH370 that went missing last year. From AP.

Here’s hoping there’s closure for all the grieving families.