A little over two months ago, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Southern California along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. The impact of the tragic accident has been wide-reaching, with one of the more uncomfortable aspects being the rush to monetize his death.
That trend started almost immediately, and continued on Sunday when a towel Bryant used during his final game with the Lakers sold for over $30,000 in an online auction. There were 16 bids on the lot, which also included two tickets from that game on April 13, 2016. The winning bid eventually came in at $33,077.16.
Bryant, of course, scored 60 points that night, leading the Lakers to a win over the Utah Jazz. After the final buzzer, he delivered his “Mamba Out” speech to the crowd at Staples Center, during which he had a towel draped over his shoulders. As he walked off the court, a fan snatched the towel, and it has now been sold multiple times.
The man who bought the towel on Sunday is reportedly a “devoted Lakers fan,” Jeff Woolf, president of Iconic Auctions, told CNN. “His long-term plan is to create a museum in Southern California.” In addition, Woolf said the same bidder recently spent another $30,000 on an old yearbook from Bryant’s middle school days.
As those two sales make clear, the demand for Bryant-related merchandise and memorabilia is still sky-high, and that likely won’t change anytime soon. Many fans had a unique emotional connection to Bryant which will simply never go away. Still, even as you might be able to understand the desire to own some of this memorabilia, the entire economic world surrounding a celebrity’s death is uneasy to think about.