Fanatics buys collectibles auction house PWCC

Fanatics buys collectibles auction house PWCC

Fanatics Collectibles announced the acquisition of PWCC Marketplace, one of the world’s largest sports card, memorabilia and collectible auction houses.

PWCC is also well-known for their PWCC Vault, a storage facility in Oregon that houses some of the rarest and most valuable sports cards and collectibles in the world.

The value of the acquisition was not made public.

“PWCC has built a strong business with incredible technology and a leading marketplace and vault,” a source from Fanatics told ESPN. “We see a huge opportunity to bring the PWCC platform into the Fanatics Collectibles family and further build and strengthen the foundation that currently exists.”

In January 2022, Fanatics acquired Topps’ trading card and collectibles arm in a deal sources say was in the $500 million range — less than half a year after making behemoth deals with the three major American sports leagues to produce sports cards. (Panini currently has deals with the NBPA and NFLPA to produce cards through 2025 and 2026, respectively — but Fanatics has deals in place when they expire, including a 20-year deal with the NFLPA. The NFL has yet to agree to a deal with Fanatics.)

Just over a week ago, Fanatics also purchased the U.S. operations of PointBets for $150 million, a move that comes as Fanatics launches sports betting and digital casino operations.

Despite PWCC layoffs in late April that eliminated roughly 25% of its workforce, Fanatics has announced that “all of PWCC’s 125 employees” will move over, though it’s not immediately clear how PWCC’s platform will be utilized or integrated.

It’s believed, according to sources close to the deal, that the acquisition will prove beneficial to the still-to-come Fanatics Live, a live shopping platform and commerce service for collectors. Fanatics Live, expected to launch in the second half of 2023, will focus on money-pooled case and box breaks to start.

According to sources, Fanatics Live at first will focus solely on trading cards, with one source familiar with the situation telling ESPN, “We just really aren’t in a place to say where it will go.”

The upcoming platform, however, will allow Fanatics to compete in the auction space with established entities like Goldin (the subject of the Netflix series “King of Collectables: The Goldin Touch”), Heritage, SCP and Robert Edwards Auctions, among others.

In 2021, the global sports memorabilia market, including trading cards, was valued at just over $26 billion; by 2032, it’s expected to eclipse $220 billion. No company has a bigger footprint in that space, or stands to in the coming years, than Fanatics — valued at $31 billion as recently as December, with a projected revenue of $8 billion in 2023.