“Charlie Sheen All-Star Cafe” T206 Honus Wagner Card To Be Sold in Mile High Card Company March Auction

Mile High Card Company’s Elite Extra Inning Auction Ends May 14thIf you like a little mystery and intrigue with your multi-million dollar sports cards, check out the headliner in Mile High Card Company’s March Auction as not just any T206 Honus Wagner card but the famed “Charlie Sheen All-Star Cafe” Wagner PSA 1 will be sold to the highest bidder. The auction goes live on Thursday, March 10th and concludes on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

Though approximately 60 to 65 T206 Honus Wagner cards are known to exist, the All-Star Cafe Wagner is the possibly the most well-known example of “The Flying Dutchman” for the national attention it received in 1990s that involved “Two and a Half Men” and “Major League” star Charlie Sheen, the FBI, and ultimately, a Presidential pardon.

The All-Star Cafe was a restaurant chain that mirrored The Hard Rock Cafe but with an homage to sports rather than music. As such, many athletes became heavily invested in the project, names like Agassi, Griffey, Gretzky, Montana, and Woods, as well as actor Charlie Sheen. The premiere of the first All-Star Cafe in New York City’s Times Square was attended by the most well-known athletes in the world as well as Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg, Stevie Wonder, Cindy Crawford, Brooke Shields, New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani and then-real estate magnate Donald Trump. Serving “stadium-style” food at a considerable markup, the cuisine was an afterthought as the restaurant’s appeal was the display of sports memorabilia and the ballpark atmosphere.

An avid hobbyist with one of the most extensive sports card collections in the nation, Sheen “loaned” some of his prized possessions to the Cafe, which were displayed under plexiglass in “The Sheen Room” by the bar. Among his gems was the most coveted and recognized sports card ever produced; a T206 Honus Wagner. One night in 1998, the executive chef and maintenance manager of the Cafe hypothesized over a few drinks, “What if we just took the card and sold it?” As strange as it may seem, the Cafe had no security, no cameras, and no alarms. The plexiglass case that housed the card wasn’t even locked! A nephew of one of the men, having overheard the conversation, suggested replacing it with a fake and created a duplicate Wagner card using a photocopy and a cardboard mount. The switch was made. Thousands of patrons came to the Cafe to dine and view the rare pasteboard over the next few weeks … and no one noticed. The plan worked, but they still had to sell the card. The nephew approached prominent sports card dealer Alan Rosen in New Jersey, known in the industry as “Mr. Mint”, with a dubious story about finding the card in his grandfather’s closet. The card was sold just a few months earlier in an auction for $200,000; Rosen got it for $18,000.

Now the story could have ended right here, but it doesn’t. Adding a fourth co-conspirator, an assistant chef went back into “The Sheen Room” and swiped more of Sheen’s collection. Among the newly missing items was an uncut 1934 Goudey sheet of 25 cards that included the extremely rare Nap Lajoie issue. But the newest member of the heist cracked one of the plexiglass cases in his haste and, upon discovery, the police were notified. The criminal consortium cut up the Goudey sheet, damaging some of the cards in the process, and went back to Rosen to unload the loot. Once again, Rosen bought the cards for mere pennies on the dollar. The NYPD was now on the case, and shortly after the FBI joined in. Here’s where the story takes a turn.

The Bureau sent a letter to the most prominent dealers on the East Coast to see if they had made any purchases that might be suspicious and Rosen responded, offering to return the cards and help identify the seller. The men were arrested for the theft of the Goudey sheet but no one, including the FBI, knew about the Wagner card. As far as anyone was concerned, the T206 Wagner was still on display at the All-Star cafe. That is until the nephew began cooperating with the authorities about the theft of the Goudey sheet and casually mentioned, in essence confessed, to the theft of the Wagner card. The four men were convicted of theft in federal court since the cards were transported across state lines, and three of them were sentenced to probation. The maintenance manager, who physically took the Wagner card and replaced it with the fake, was sentenced to four months in prison. As for the damaged Goudey cards, the four men were ordered to pay restitution to one of the most famous entertainers in Hollywood. Having served his probation with no further incidents, President Obama in 2016 pardoned the nephew who had voluntarily, and unwittingly, cooperated with the FBI. The card has changed hands, legally, several times since that event, and now appears once again in the Mile High Card Company March auction. The proceeds from the sale of this card will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma.

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