Lau­rence Car­pen­ter (36) is the owner of Pop Icons. He is a dealer of high-end mu­sic mem­o­ra­bilia, in­clud­ing sev­eral Ge­orge Michael cos­tumes and Madonna’s knick­ers. From Tal­laght, he lives in Dun­drum with his Aus­trian girl­friend, Ger­linde, and their cat, Ti

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - WAKING HOURS - In con­ver­sa­tion with Ciara Dwyer

Iget up at 8am ev­ery day. I live in Dun­drum with my girl­friend, Ger­linde. She is Aus­trian. We met in a night­club five years ago. She has a full-time job, so she is gone early in the morn­ing. For break­fast, I have por­ridge and cof­fee.

I cy­cle to work ev­ery morn­ing. I work in a shared of­fice space in Harold’s Cross. I like hav­ing peo­ple around me. Be­fore this, I tried work­ing from home, but it didn’t work. I got cabin fever. I can go in to the of­fice when­ever I feel like it. Some days I work for an hour; other days, four hours. I’m self-em­ployed. In 2010, I set up my own com­pany called Pop Icons. I’m a dealer, and I spe­cialise in high-end mu­sic mem­o­ra­bilia. The logic be­hind sell­ing the high-end stuff is that in­stead of sell­ing 1,000 au­to­graphs, I sell one gui­tar and make even more money. It’s very ef­fi­cient. I have Madonna’s knick­ers and Eric Clap­ton’s gui­tar. Typ­i­cally, it’s cos­tumes worn by fa­mous peo­ple, and in­stru­ments, too.

It all started when I’d cy­cle into town from Tal­laght with my dad ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing. We’d go to a place called The Hill. It was a scruffy kind of mar­ket, but my dad loved it. He’d walk around look­ing for collectibles. Money was tight. He was a labourer; this was his hobby. Then he got some auc­tion cat­a­logues with en­ter­tain­ment mem­o­ra­bilia. I no­ticed that it was very valu­able.

I think col­lect­ing is a male-ori­ented thing. Maybe women are more in touch with their emo­tions, but men need some­thing phys­i­cal to hold onto. It used to be per­ceived as quite nerdy, but all that changed af­ter films like and came out. Aged 16, I was into

I’d buy the toys but I wouldn’t open the packs. In or­der to hold their value, they needed to be in pris­tine con­di­tion. I’d put them on dis­play at home. Later on, I used to col­lect records and con­cert posters. I was buy­ing lim­ited edi­tions, but I was acutely aware of the ex­pen­sive mem­o­ra­bilia — unique pieces — but you needed cap­i­tal to buy them, and I just didn’t have it. Col­lect­ing is very ma­te­ri­al­is­tic. So I de­cided to get out of my bed­room and live my life more. I haven’t col­lected since.

When Michael Jack­son passed away, I went on the in­ter­net to look for Michael Jack­son mem­o­ra­bilia. It was just an old habit. Later on, there was an auc­tion,

X-Men Star Wars. Spi­der-Man Lau­rence hold­ing a gui­tar signed by Roger Wa­ters of Pink Floyd

and some of the items sold for a lot of money. I had just left a job with a good salary. It didn’t make any sense to leave, as I had a bank loan. But I needed peace of mind. I was do­ing what­ever I could to get the money to­gether. I bought a lim­ited-edi­tion signed Michael Jack­son print for $500 in an auc­tion, and sold it on eBay for $4,000. That was my light­bulb mo­ment. For the next six months, I con­cen­trated on buy­ing Michael Jack­son mem­o­ra­bilia. In the be­gin­ning, peo­ple thought I was crazy. I was show­ing them two Michael Jack­son hats I’d bought for $2,000 and telling them that I was go­ing to sell them for $70,000. I al­ways had be­lief in my­self. I shipped them over to an auc­tion in LA and they sold for over $100,000. That al­lowed me to clear my debts and still have money in the bank. In or­der to sell at a high­end auc­tion, you have to have proof that your items are au­then­tic.

I make two types of in­vest­ments, long-term and short-term, and I only deal in iconic artists. There are con­tem­po­rary ones like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Ri­hanna and Nicki Mi­naj, and le­gendary ones like Bob Dy­lan, Bruce Spring­steen and Madonna. If I buy some­thing from Katy Perry, I need to sell it within a year or two, whereas I’ll hold onto Madonna’s jacket for an­other 20 years, as it will in­crease in value. A good time to buy some­thing is when the artist hasn’t re­leased an al­bum; when there is noth­ing hap­pen­ing in their ca­reer. I buy a lot of items that were do­nated to char­ity auc­tions and from peo­ple who have bought them there. I could be up at 4am, bid­ding on the phone. The ideal time to sell is when an artist passes away. It sounds mor­bid, and I’m a bit em­bar­rassed say­ing it, but it’s the truth.

I own one of the big­gest col­lec­tions of Ge­orge Michael’s cos­tumes — I have 15. Af­ter he died, I bought the leather jacket he wore in the video. You’d buy a nice new car for the price of the jacket, and hope­fully, I can sell it for the price of a nice house. All of those items are go­ing on sale this year at auc­tion. This is the time to sell them. I bought them be­cause I was a fan. I con­cen­trate on artists I like. I have a David Bowie col­lec­tion, and I’ll be sell­ing the items di­rectly to pri­vate col­lec­tors — A-list celebri­ties, Lotto win­ners and in­di­vid­u­als who are will­ing to pay. That cuts out the com­mis­sion from auc­tion houses. I have very few items at home. In­stead, some stuff is on loan — on dis­play in ex­hi­bi­tions, such as the Grammy Mu­seum. This adds to the value. Also, I have a stor­age unit in LA. If I buy some­thing in Amer­ica, I leave it in Amer­ica; oth­er­wise I’d have to pay im­port and ex­port tax. Also, the less ship­ping the bet­ter, be­cause it re­duces the risk of the item get­ting lost.

Peo­ple buy these items to put on dis­play in their homes. They never wear them. Usu­ally, they buy be­cause of their story. If some­one is a huge fan of Madonna and one of her songs strikes a chord with some key mo­ment in their life, they feel a bond with the artist. This is their way of get­ting closer to them.

Pas­sion drives me to find things. The thrill is in the hunt. It can be tricky de­cid­ing on the op­por­tune time to sell and where. I only have one chance to sell. I love do­ing the deal. The busi­ness side of my life has given me free­dom and flex­i­bil­ity to do what­ever I want. In the be­gin­ning, it was scary and I had aw­ful ten­sion headaches, but now I’m more com­fort­able in my own skin. I en­joy my life. I was at the Gram­mys and I saw Ri­hanna and Nicky Mi­naj. I have some of their cos­tumes. I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘What would hap­pen if I told them, “I have your knick­ers at home”?’ That’d be weird.

I bought Ge­orge Michael’s jacket for the price of a new car. And hope­fully, I’ll sell it for the price of a nice house

Faith See popi­

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