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The Margin: How Tom Brady’s unretirement likely cost this person over $500,000

Talk about a case of bad gridiron timing.

A football thrown by Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was auctioned off by Lelands for $518,628, including a buyer’s premium, over the weekend. Key to what made the ball so special: It was used in the final touchdown pass that Brady threw during a playoff game on Jan. 23 — in what at the time was his last one as a player since he announced his retirement at the beginning of February.

The only problem? Within a day of the auction’s Saturday-night conclusion, Brady announced he wasn’t retiring after all and would play next season. In effect, the ball has lost its “final” significance and is of considerably less value.

Or as one observer on Twitter put it: “Now it’s just an NFL used football.

In recent years, prized collectibles, from a pair of Michael Jordan’s game-worn shoes used during his rookie season to a Babe Ruth New York Yankees jersey, have commanded higher and higher prices, with some items selling in the seven figures. In turn, this has attracted attention from a range of investors, including those new to the market.

The Brady football was seemingly the latest example of a hot collectible. Bidding started at $100,000 on the Lelands platform and more than 20 people bid on the item.

A Lelands spokesman declined to comment about the situation.

Brady announced his decision to return to the game on Sunday via Twitter, saying “I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands.”

Dr. Shari Hensrud, a vice president at Riskalyze, a company that analyzes the risks of different investments, says the sale of the Brady football illustrates the issues and challenges associated with the collectibles market.

Dr. Hensrud says that all investments come with risk: A solidly performing stock can be subject to a rapid downturn if, say, the CEO dies unexpectedly. But with collectibles, there’s inherently greater risk, she says, because the investment doesn’t have the same degree of tangibility.

In other words, even if a public company’s CEO dies, the company still has assets — and still goes about its daily business. It will also likely continue to pay dividends.

That’s not quite the case with a Tom Brady football, she explains. “There’s nothing fundamental to grab onto,” Dr. Hensrud says.

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