Leland's auction house honchos were red-faced after the winning bidder for Lou Gehrig's "farewell address" uniform failed to come up with the money for it.
Leland's Collectibles this week filed the first step in a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking $68,000 and legal fees against Jeffrey Herman, a 44-year-old Miami businessman who made big news nationwide when he bid a record $451,541 for the jersey worn by the dying Gehrig.
Gehrig's July 4, 1939, farewell before 61,808 fans at Yankee Stadium -- "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" -- is one of the most enduring speeches in American history. The auction for the famous jersey took place July 8-9. On July 10, Leland's officials announced the winning bid for the Gehrig jersey, which they said was the highest price ever paid for a uniform and probably the third-highest price paid for a piece of baseball memorabilia.
Herman informed auction officials he was unable to pay for the uniform, as well as another $100,000 worth of items he had bought at the auction.
"What's happened is I'm involved in a major lawsuit down here and the money I had prepared to use to buy the uniform is tied up in the courts in a deferred account," Herman, a Florida basket manufacturer, said from his Miami home. "I'm planning to open up a museum in south Florida with all memorabilia from before 1930. I'm also hoping to have a hospital built on the property where there'd be a clinic for Lou Gehrig's disease [ALS]. That's why I want the uniform so bad."
There were only two bidders for the Gehrig jersey. The other bidder was a wealthy shopping mall developer who has bought other expensive uniforms in the past. Leland's president Michael Heffner said the uniform will be offered to the other bidder for the minimum bid of $295,000, plus the standard 15 percent buyers' premium.
MOVES: The Angels placed reliever Mike Holtz (strained right knee ligament) on the 15-day disabled list and planned to activate IF-OF Darin Erstad from the DL. Holtz is 1-3 with a 10.19 ERA in 24 appearances. Erstad, due to be activated today, is hitting .246 with 10 homers and 37 RBI in 111 games. . . . Royals rookie Dan Reichert, struck in the elbow Monday night by a liner off the bat of Baltimore's Albert Belle, will be out the rest of the season. Tests indicated that the right-hander suffered a crack in his right elbow.