Lego fetches $15,000 in record-setting sale by Santa Rosa merchant
They met at a gas station in Battle Mountain, Nev., a small town about midway between Santa Rosa and Roosevelt, Utah.
It was about 12:30 p.m. Sunday, and Andre Hurley, 20, of Roosevelt pulled out a black bank bag that contained $15,000.
For his part, Caleb Raff, the owner of The Brick Hutt Lego shop in Santa Rosa, pulled out of his jeans pocket a small, one-of-a-kind item weighing exactly 3 troy ounces -- the Platinum Avohkii Mask of Light, from Lego's discontinued Bionicle line.
The transaction, eight months in the works, went down in only a few minutes and is believed to involve the most expensive Lego piece ever sold.
As soon as he had it in his hands, Hurley -- an auto glass technician, parkour instructor and one of the world's largest Bionicle collectors -- brought out another Bionicle collector's mask, a solid Gold Hau.
The Hau was one of five pure gold Bionicle masks released to the public, and Hurley paid $3,000 for it years ago.
"As soon as I bought (the platinum mask), I pulled out the Gold Hau, and for the first time ever the two of them were together; it was pretty cool," Hurley said.
"I'm ecstatic. It's perfect," he said. "I view it as an investment, but I also view it as my childhood dream come true."
The Platinum Avohkii Mask of Light was the grand prize in the Cartoon Network's Toonami Sweepstakes in October 2003. An 11-year-old Santa Rosa boy, Chase Koches, won the mask, along with a number of other prizes, including Bionicle toys and Lego sets, a DVD player, Nike Bionicle athletic shoes and a 36-inch flat-screen television.
In 2003, the mask had an estimated value of $7,000. It stayed with Koches until 2012, when he decided to sell it for needed cash. In the fall of that year, he sold it to Raff, who then put it up for auction on eBay.
Raff got offers of more than $15,000, some of them coming from overseas.
Raff and Hurley started negotiating a sale last fall. During that time, Raff said he made a connection with Hurley and held off from selling to others so that Hurley could come up with the money.
The $15,000 price surpasses the current sale price of the most expensive Lego brick ever sold: a 14-karat gold 2x4 Lego brick currently listed for $14,449.99 at Brickenvy.com. The gold brick was purchased by Brickenvy.com for $12,500.
According to reports, the brick was awarded to certain longtime Lego workers in Germany from 1979 to 1981.
Raff's piece weighs 3 troy ounces, or just over 93 grams.
A Lego spokeswoman said last week that the company could not confirm if the platinum Avohkii sale price of $15,000 was the most expensive Lego piece ever sold.
"We are not involved in the aftermarket sale of Lego sets or individual pieces, so we are unable to provide the information you have requested," said Amanda Santoro, a Lego marketing representative.
Back in December 2012, Raff tried to contact Lego to determine the value of the platinum mask. A Lego consumer services representative said Lego does not "assign value to the collectability factor."
Lego wrote: "As a collectable item, it is basically worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it -- there really isn't a way to assign a worth to it."