Their Olympic gold medals and other memorabilia have been spending more time in safety deposit boxes than on display, so Bill Christian and Dave Christian decided the time was right to auction them off.
The father-son collection, currently up for online bidding, will be sold later this month.
As treasured as the items are, parting with them wasn’t as difficult as people might have assumed.
“Whether or not we have it in our hand, we still both won gold medals,” said Dave Christian, a key member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that produced the “Miracle on Ice” who went on to play 15 seasons in the NHL. “The memories and all the stories and what not, they won’t ever go away.”
Bill Christian was a star on the 1960 team that also beat the heavily favored Soviet Union on the way to winning Olympic gold. For the auction, the two of them pulled out dozens of items, from game-worn jerseys and game-used equipment to plaques, rings and trophies celebrating a host of hockey triumphs.
“Whatever we could find that had made many, many moves and been stored away,” Dave Christian said. “Better to part with it than let the moths eat it.”
The proceeds will go toward college funds for his five grandchildren, said Dave Christian, a native of Warroad, Minn., who’s now 56 years old and living in the Twin Cities area. Bill Christian, age 78, is a resident of Naples, Fla.
Heritage Auctions will conduct the public sale in New York the weekend of Feb. 20-21. Derek Grady, the company’s vice president of sports memorabilia, said the collection will bring in more than $500,000 and probably more. Dave Christian’s gold medal alone is pegged at $300,000.
Last year, Heritage Auctions handled a similar auction for the family of the late Herb Brooks, who coached Dave Christian on the 1980 team. That collection more than doubled the initial estimate, Grady said. The ring Brooks received for the 1980 Olympics fetched $113,525.
“People connect with sports, and the value of sports collectibles has shot up,” Grady said. “I think people are diversifying their investments. If you see the rise of sports memorabilia over the past 20 years, it’s been on par with or better than the stock market, if you buy quality items.”
Rarity, naturally, is the primary driver of value, and material from the 1980 Olympic team is always a big sell.
“Most people in their 40s and older remember where they were when they beat the Russians. So to get a piece of that team, whether it be a jersey, a medal or a stick, is significant to a person,” Grady said. “I think that’s why that team was so beloved. They’re a great group of guys.”