Legendary February 29–March 1 Catalog Auction To Feature First Part of Drier Collection

 The Legendary Auctions February 29–March 1 Catalog Auction, will feature the very first auction offerings from The Dreier Collection. In partnership with Legendary Auctions, Chad Dreier and his son Doug Dreier will officially throw open the doors to the Dreier Museum by publicly offering their collection over the next two years.

Over 400 other lots will be presented in a special catalog as the initial installment of this legendary collection. The auction features rare 19th century relics, baseball pinbacks, baseball cards and memorabilia, game used uniforms and boxing ephemera.

Phase I: The Foundation
Born and raised in Los Angeles to a printer father and stay-at-home mother, Chad Dreier was the first in his family to finish college. Humorously, it was the Tooth Fairy who introduced Chad to baseball cards by leaving five packs of mid-1950s Topps under his pillow one night. Soon, the grade-schooler was toting his allowance money to the corner store and stocking up on what, to this day, remains his absolute favorite issue: 1957 Topps.

Chad worshipped the Southern California teams of the day—Dodgers, Lakers and Rams—but his personal heroes weren’t necessarily Snider, Baylor, Chamberlain, West and Hirsch. Rather, he preferred those low-key, yet indispensable, utility players like Lakers forward Rudy LaRusso and minor-league L.A. Angels workhorse Steve Bilko. A starting catcher himself up through his college years, Chad graduated from Loyola University in 1969 with an accounting degree and emphases in philosophy and theology.

That legendary year of the moon landing saw giant steps in Chad’s life as well. He married his Marymount University sweetheart Ginni in March, earned his Air Force commission on the eve of Loyola’s commencement in June, and arrived at Maine’s Loring Air Force Base in July. A year later, the couple welcomed their first child, Kristin. Accounting duties kept First Lieutenant Dreier out of harm’s way until March 1972, when he received orders for Vietnam in order to take stock of the U.S. military’s remaining equipment there. Serendipitously, just before saying goodbye to his young family and boarding the plane, he was mustered out of service.

Shortly thereafter, Chad began logging 60-plus hours a week with the L.A. accounting firm Ernst & Ernst, and Ginni gave birth to their son Doug in 1973. By 1977, ready for more manageable hours and a new professional focus, Chad transitioned into real estate and operations. He became an account manager, climbing quickly up the corporate ladder in the ‘80s and early ‘90s—first with a Canadian company and later with U.S. homebuilder Kaufman & Broad (now KB Home). Then came Ryland Homes in 1993, a pivotal career shift that not only took the Dreier family to Baltimore, but also engineered the future for the Dreier Collection and Dreier Museum.

Phase II: The Framework
When he took the helm at Ryland Homes, Chad inherited a company struggling with inefficient global expansion efforts and fallout from the early-1990s recession. He immediately set about righting the ship by streamlining services, trimming excess costs, divesting from unsuccessful ventures, improving customer satisfaction and promoting brand visibility. Within three years under Chad’s revitalizing leadership, Ryland experienced a miraculous turnaround, emerging from debt to post explosive profits and soaring stock prices.

Such unprecedented success brought with it great personal wealth for the first time in Chad’s life. After he had covered all the bases for his family’s financial security, this lifetime card collector enjoyed the discretionary income and freedom to aggressively ramp up his hobby habits. Obscure 19th-century issues and early-20th-century tobacco and candy classics now competed with the old standbys of postwar Topps as Chad increasingly discovered his inner completist.

No card quest was too daunting, even if it meant waiting years or paying a premium. Often, acquiring that one elusive rarity or previously uncataloged variation even became of paramount pleasure to obtaining a given set’s flagship Hall of Famer. It was the pure thrill of the chase that mattered most—in the same zealous spirit of wide-ranging safari adventurer Teddy Roosevelt, who bagged scarce, unheralded insects and moles as well as big-game status symbols like elephants, hippos and rhinos.

To paraphrase Roosevelt, Chad also walked softly and carried a big stack of cards. He established a steady presence in the Baltimore market and branched out to purchase from national auctions and sales catalogs, but by and large maintained a low profile and remained something of an outlier. Bombast, braggadocio, hobby politics, keeping up with the Joneses—these were never part of Chad’s equation. He merely set out to create a world-class collection on his own terms and in his own way.

This independent streak soon also informed a major life decision, as Chad risked his career trajectory in 2000 to return to the West Coast. Little did he realize, however, that Ryland was willing to relocate their entire corporate headquarters clear across the country rather than lose him. Setting up shop with their fearless leader in California turned out to be a savvy move for Ryland, which managed to crack the Fortune 500 and reach peak annual earnings of $447 million during the imminent housing boom. For the Dreiers, their homecoming ultimately meant fame, fortune, family reunions and fantasies come true.

Phase III: The System Installation
Transforming the Dreier Collection into the Dreier Museum required a vision, a gallery space and a supervisory staff. The visionary was Chad’s wife Ginni, who suggested in late 2003 that the collection be housed for display in a building Chad had recently rehabbed as a rental property. Before long, the one-story, 20,000-sq.-ft. complex, perched high above Santa Barbara with spectacular ocean views, was converted into an elegant gallery befitting such a prestigious collection. But with Chad working long hours at Ryland, there still remained the question: Who would serve as the Dreier Museum’s curator?

Doug Dreier, an enthusiastic 30-year-old educator in New Mexico by that time, answered the call of duty. He had studied English and Theater at Western Washington University (’96), and earned his Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (’00). Now, Doug’s avid lifelong devotion to reading, history, sports and teaching made him an ideal fit to curate the burgeoning Dreier Museum and lead interactive tours for invited guests and charitable benefit attendees.

He immediately stepped up to the plate, collaborating with Chad on purchasing decisions; stressing the importance of dramatic, visitor-friendly 3-D memorabilia to complement the 2-D cards; and rounding out the four major sports with a greater representation of items from boxing, golf, soccer, even wrestling. (Hulk Hogan’s WWF ring-worn boots eventually proved a reliable favorite among museum-goers.) Doug also demonstrated a keen eye for how best to visually contextualize each gallery piece for maximum accessibility—often through exhaustively researched bios, photo matches and related paraphernalia. To hear Doug tell it, he’ll always be a classroom teacher at heart, and so he has a profound passion for “completing the story, creating the experience.”

Chad and Doug hosted their first gala event at a then partially filled Dreier Museum on July 4, 2004. In the ensuing years, they took their enterprise to the next level, buying up a significant portion of the Duke Hott Collection of gridiron greatness, expanding the museum’s holdings into pop culture (with a focus on the “best of the best” of original Hollywood memorabilia), gems and minerals (a 24-ounce gold nugget, a beautiful assortment of diamonds in various colors and shapes), and fossils (including one of the largest known wooly mammoth tusks). As with the sports wing, Chad and Doug imbued their non-sports rooms with painstaking attention to detail and artistry—even elaborately painting the walls to complement certain themes and, in a spectacle that must be seen to be believed, constructing a Night at the Museum-like action diorama of classic original 12-inch G.I. Joes.

“Most people collect only one thing,” Chad says. “I like everything. I’m just a kid with a big toybox.” And the apple apparently doesn’t fall far from the tree, since father and son both report being in lockstep when it comes to their predilections. Case in point: If they separately peruse the same auction catalog and choose 20 items of interest, Chad and Doug almost invariably find that 15 of their selections are identical. They’ve also perfected their technique of staying within budget by implementing a three-tiered desirability scale, which categorizes the worth of prospective pieces as “below estimate,” “at estimate” or “above estimate.”

What’s more, the Dreier men are more than mere business partners—they’re best friends, too. Rather than part ways after working side by side all day, Chad and Doug often share dinner together along with their wives Ginni and Hanne (both of whom have been instrumental in operational decisions), and Doug and Hanne’s three children, plus Chad and Ginni’s daughter Kristin (the museum’s marketing consultant) and her husband Rob. Perhaps the single greatest asset to the Dreier Museum’s success is that it has always been a family affair.

Phase IV: The Finishing Touches
After entertaining over 10,000 visitors in eight years, Chad and Doug Dreier have exceeded all their wildest expectations for the Dreier Museum and now look forward to completing this chapter in their lives. Their Sports Collection will be handled by Legendary Auctions over the next two years, while their Pop Culture and Hollywood Memorabilia Collection will be sold by California-based auction house Profiles in History in 2012.

The Dreiers will hold onto their gems, minerals and fossils; their newest forte, first-edition books; and their unique, historically important 19th-century tintypes featuring the earliest black ballplayers and female ballplayers. Chad and Doug are still collectors, after all. But they want to return to the simple, innocent pleasures of their pastime, without the inherent obligations and expenses of maintaining a year-round, in-demand, fully staffed museum space. Moreover, at 64, Chad is ready to lavish more attention on his grandkids and travel the globe. Then there are his philanthropic commitments, as Chair Emeritus of the Board at Loyola-Marymount University, and as a large donor to the Santa Barbara Bowl performing arts center, Santa Barbara Zoo and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Doug, meanwhile, is excited to dedicate his time to his family, the remaining Dreier collections, and the community, serving on the boards of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, the Marjorie Luke Theater and the Santa Barbara Police Activities League.

If there’s one showcase in the Dreier Museum that truly sums up the ethos of this family, this collection, it may well be the array of mementos from Cal Ripken Jr.’s superhuman “Iron Man” streak of consecutive games played. Living in Baltimore then, Doug and Chad were there together at Camden Yards for both the record-tying and record-breaking games, numbers 2,130 and 2,131. Those ticket stubs and related ephemera pale in value compared to many of the museum’s expensive baubles. Yet they are just as meaningful to the Dreiers, if not more, because of what they symbolize: a father and son, witnessing history, embracing in celebration, sharing a priceless memory, building a legacy.

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