When bond investor Bill Gross’s mother wanted to save money for his education, she looked at stamp collecting as a way to invest. But when he tried to sell the stamps before enrolling at Duke University, Gross discovered they were worthless—his mother had collected purchase sheets of mass-produced stamps.
This prompted Gross to find financial success in stamp collecting—and prove his mother had the right idea.
Today Gross will begin auctioning off his collection at Siegel Auction Galleries, giving all proceeds to charity.
Some of the rarest stamps up for auction include a block of a 24-cent 1869 Pictorial Inverted Center stamp, with an estimated value between $750,000 and $1 million, and the Bible block, estimated to be worth $300,000 to $400,000.
With an approximate worth of $42.2 million, his trove of stamps is among the most valuable in the world. It is widely renowned among collectors; Gross was only the second person to form a complete collection of 19th-century United States postage stamps.
The collection will be sold in a series of four auctions. The first is expected to break the $9.1 million world record for the highest-grossing single-day stamp auction, with individual items ranging from $5,000 to $1 million.
Today’s auction will feature approximately 150 items, many of which were discovered before World War I. Hundreds more will be sold at subsequent auctions.
The “Bond King,” known for founding Pacific Investment Management Co.—Pimco—and his work in bond strategies, has a net worth of $1.5 billion, according to Forbes. The magazine just dropped Gross fell from its list of the 400 wealthiest people in the world after he paid $1 billion to his ex-wife in their divorce settlement.
Gross has given the Smithsonian National Postal Museum $10 million to build the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the world’s largest gallery dedicated to postage.
“I have had the privilege and enjoyment of acquiring many of America’s most iconic stamp rarities over the past 25 years or so,” Gross said in a statement. “During that time, I have always thought I was a temporary curator of these treasures and that one day others should have the opportunity, honor and responsibility of becoming the collectors.”
The first auction will be held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel.