Dave Oancea has always been about making the biggest splash.
Boy, did Oancea cause a tidal wave this time.
Two years after getting into investing in sports cards, Oancea – a.k.a. “Vegas Dave” – unloaded his Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome autographed Superfractor. The 1-of-1 card sold through Goldin Auctions for a record-breaking $3.936 million on Aug. 23.
That price eclipsed the 2016 sale of a 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner for $3.12 million, also through Goldin Auctions, making the Trout card the highest-selling sports card ever.
“I got what I wanted,” said Oancea, who had a reserve of $3.8 million on the card. “If I wasn’t going to get what I wanted, I was going to keep it. I figured if someone has $3 million to spend, they can afford $4 million.”
The card, graded BGS 9 and 10 for the autograph, was purchased by Oancea from a collector in Asia in May 2018 for $400,000.
Even with the hobby absolutely booming since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s astounding the Trout card shot up $3.5 million in just two years. Why is that?
“Because of me, because I know how to market,” Oancea told Sports Collectors Digest. “No one else could have done this in the industry, and I’m not bragging, just being the truth. I made this deal when I bought the card, $400,000, everyone thought I was crazy. I said, ‘Mark my words, it will break the record in five, 10 years.’ I broke it in two years. Most people that buy high-end cards, they want to be quiet. I use marketing. People think it’s arrogant, that’s just how I market myself.”
Along with purchasing the Trout Superfractor in 2018, Oancea stocked up on other Trout cards from the 2009 Bowman Chrome release. He nabbed an autographed /5 red Refractor along with “eight or nine” /25 orange Refractors. Oancea sold the red Refractor (BGS 9.5, auto 10) for a cool $922,500 in May of this year through Goldin Auctions. That was the first Trout that Oancea ever bought, doing so for $180,000.
So, in just three months this summer, Oancea sold his two rarest Trout cards for a total of $4,858,500, after the buyer’s premiums. He originally paid a total of $580,000 for the pair of cards.
“I inflated the Trout market, now I’m dumping it all,” Oancea said. “Trout will go up, but the only reason it went up this high is because of me.”
After putting in the time and money into purchasing the Trout Refractors, Oancea knew now was the ideal time to sell.
“The market’s booming and I’m predicting the market’s going to flop in a year or two,” Oancea said. “People don’t want to hear this, but I’m always right with what I do. I know everything by Gary Vee, all the hype of Luka (Doncic) – people are going to lose their ass. They’re going to buy all these Prizm cards and Giannis (Antetokounmpo). They’re going to lose their ass in two years because everyone’s buying right now at the peak, and when you buy at the peak, you’re going to get burned in a year or two. Nothing like the Trout – the Trout’s one-of-one, that’s a special card. But all these other people get in the market, buying all the hype, paying thousands for Zion (Williamson). It’s just like before, I told everyone last year, waste your money on (Ronald) Acuna; waste your money on (Shohei) Otani; waste your money on (Juan) Soto. Those cards are never going to go up. Waste your money on (Fernando) Tatis (Jr.) right now. A red for $100,000? You’re crazy. The guy’s proved himself for three weeks in a season, and you’re paying $100,000. You’re better off putting that in a Trout.”
There were at least two other people and perhaps more who shared that same sentiment about investing in Trout. There were 20 bids for the Superfractor, which really ramped up in the late hours of the Goldin Elite Auction.
The card price hadn’t hit its reserve when Oancea received an offer relayed to him by Goldin Auctions founder and CEO Ken Goldin.
“Goldin was calling me and saying, ‘Will you take $3.5 million? We’ve got an offer for $3.5,’” Oancea said. “I said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘If it doesn’t sell for what I wanted, ship it back.’ I stood my ground. They got it done and everyone’s happy. I was honestly ready to take the card back…I knew someone was going to pay it. Once you’re in the $3 million range, what’s an extra couple hundred thousand? That’s chump change to people with that kind of money.”
Since Oancea is so high on the Trout Superfractor, why not hold on to it for a few more years?
“Because I already got 10 times my money (back),” he said. “I think the ceiling in that card can be $6-7 million.”
Oancea is planning on taking the millions he made from the sale and putting it into an investment account and not touching it.
“In over 10 years from now, the interest off that account will build to $7 and $10 million dollars, so it’s the same thing,” Oancea said. “I have no risk compared to the baseball card market.”