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    Rare Pikachu, Kobe’s sneakers – a hidden vault guards it all

    UPI – The ordinary brown brick building, tucked within a nondescript block on a street in Delaware, would probably not garner much attention if it weren’t for the razor wire and armed guards outside – hints that something important lay inside, possibly even precious.

    Fort Knox it is not. But the stash of collectibles the building holds is undoubtedly worthy of guarding.

    There’s a rare Pikachu card and a century-old one of baseball great Honus Wagner, which recently sold for USD7.25 million in a private sale. In addition to the trading cards, there are baseball bats and basketball shoes, including a pair of sneakers worn and signed by the late NBA great Kobe Bryant.

    In all, USD200 million in collectibles are stored in two vaults inside the building, equipped with some of the latest technology to keep the valuable cache safe from harm or thieves.

    “A lot of people don’t keep jewellery at their house. They keep it at a safety deposit box,” maybe at a secure bank, said chief executive officer of Goldin Co Ross Hoffman.

    Goldin Co is a division of industry giant Collectors, which operates the vault, a high-security facility specialising in protecting collectibles.

    CEO of Goldin Co Ross Hoffman shows a shoe worn and signed by NBA legend Kobe Bryant. PHOTO: AP

    The building has no signage, and the company asked that any hint of its location not be divulged. Inside is a technologically advanced facility with a guarded vault, equipped with seismic motion detectors that will sound the alarm should anyone try to jackhammer through walls.

    To move from room to room, a security guard ushers you through a card-activated double door entry way, letting the first door close before passing through the next. There are surveillance cameras everywhere.

    Behind one of two 3,400-kilogramme vault doors, each more than a foot thick, are rows of shelves that extend to the building’s rafters.

    Rows upon rows of boxes are filled with collectors’ items – including some with relatively little monetary worth but that represent sentimental value for their owners or that could someday be worth much more.

    Hoffman called the facility a “pain killer”.

    “There’s pain of things getting lost. There’s pain in the things getting stolen,” Hoffman said.

    Interest in sports collectibles and memorabilia has boomed in recent years, not just high-ticket items but also for rediscovered pieces that had been tucked away in attics or basements.

    In August, a mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for USD12.6 million, surpassing the USD9.3 million paid for the jersey worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the contentious “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup.

    “A lot of times people have collectibles for the bragging rights to show it to other people so they can go, ooh and ahh,” said founder of ComicConnect Stephen Fishler, who has watched the growing rise – and profitability – of collectibles being traded across auction houses.

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