A record sale wasn’t enough for “Vegas” Dave Oancea.
The outlandish betting guru sold Mike Trout’s one-of-a-kind 2009 Bowman superfractor rookie card for a record-shattering $3.84 million at an auction this weekend. Before the sale made headlines, Oancea took a call from the soon-to-be buyer.
“[The card] sold because it’s a one-in-one and the person knows,” Oancea told The Post on Monday. “They called me before the auction, and said, ‘hey, made an offer for $3.5 million cash, take it.’ We kind of argued over the phone I said, ‘no, I’ll stand my ground. If not I’ll keep the card.’”
The unprecedented sale broke a previous record set back in 2016 for a Honus Wagner tobacco card, which sold for $3.12 million.
“In the back of my head I know this: Someone who’s going to offer me $3.5 [million] — they’re going to pay $3.9 [million],” said Oancea, whose love for sports memorabilia dates back to childhood when he ran his own baseball card shows out of a Holiday Inn.
“Four hundred thousand dollars is chump change when you’re dropping $3 million on a baseball card.”
Oancea’s interest in collectibles returned recently after he was banned from Las Vegas casinos last year for fraudulently using other people’s identities to open accounts at casinos.
Oancea does not think that the collectibles boom played a role in the massive price, but there is no question the industry is rising since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. According to Chris Justice of Cards Infinity, the pandemic, which kept people worldwide fettered to their homes without sports, has reinvigorated the industry. Justice told Sports Illustrated back in May that he has seen a 25 percent increase overall, and a 15-to-25 percent increase in new engagement.
Oancea, though, attributes this particular card’s success to his unique marketing prowess and boisterous personality.
“There’s no one else that could have done this,” he said. “Most people that buy cards, they’re very quiet. You know me, I’m very out there. Some people would say it’s rude or obnoxious but it’s just how I market myself.”
Oancea knows the identity of the purchaser of the card, who elected to remain anonymous publicly.
“I do, I do [know who it is],” he said quietly.
Oancea purchased the card two years ago for $400,000 on eBay, a decision he says was met with ridicule at the time. He also snapped up multiple other Trout cards in order to create a market demand.
“People laughed about me buying the baseball card [because] it’s a piece of cardboard,” he said. “I made a video two years ago saying, ‘This card for $400,000 is my big investment,’ and I took a lot of criticism, people still hating on it and I said, ‘mark my words, it’ll break the record’ — and it did two years later.
“The fact that I put it out there, the fact that I bought up all the other Trouts — I monopolized the market, I leveraged the market. That’s why the card went for $400,000 to $4 million. No one else could have done that because the card before was only worth $400,000 and people thought it was crazy back then to buy it for $400,000. It took my marketing and sales ability and my brand to inflate the prices so high.”
Oancea spends his 17-hour workdays selling betting packages via social media and dabbles in real estate development and flipping expensive Hermès Birkin bags.
“People just need to have an open mind,” he said. “People laughed at me about the Birkins. Only girls carry purses, but then I was just featured with Drake last month with GQ — Drake and LeBron with men buying Birkins.”
So how does the typically ostentatious Oancea plan on spending his approximately 875 percent return on investment?
“In the past if I got a $4 million paycheck in one day, I’d buy another Rolex, another Ferrari, or go buy a $100,000 champagne, but that’s not me anymore,” he said. “I’m taking the money, paying my taxes with it first, and then putting it all into a retirement fund and I’m not going to touch it. I’m just going to let the interest compound.”
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