Items being associated with or belonging to Michael Jordan continue to find their way to auction houses, but his mother Deloris P. Jordan is disputing the legitimacy of a recent item on the auctioning block.
It’s a recruiting letter sent to Michael Jordan by Dean Smith, the Hall of Fame and head coaching legend at the University of North Carolina. The item was listed at Goldin Auctions, which describes it as “the most important recruiting letter ever written by a head coach in the history of college basketball.”
The auction site claims the letter was given to Framemakers in 1999 to be professionally framed for display at “Michael Jordan’s 23” restaurant in Chapel Hill. The restaurant closed and the memorabilia inside was stored at a public storage facility and was later purchased at a public auction.
“The official UNC letterhead is in the university's colors of blue and white, and the letter is printed in matching UNC blue ink. As a letter, it has three folds from when it was originally mailed to Jordan and his family in 1980,” the auction site reads.
The auctioneer sent NBC 5 scanned copies of two letters and maintains they are original documents, noting the original fold lines, the period of the paper and the extent of typical wear and tear. There's also a slice at the bottom of the letter, the auctioneer points out, which is consistent with what would have been created by someone using a letter opener 34 years ago.
"I have no doubt that Mrs. Jordan has numerous recruiting letters in her possession that she saved from her son Michael, and likely many from University of North Carolina," Goldin Auctions said in an email statement. "However, based upon the above facts as well as the third party Authentication, we find it unlikely she has 'the originals' of these two particular letters."
Still Deloris Jordan insists the letter is a copy.
“When I heard it, I’m thinking, 'No, that cannot be. What they have is replica,'” Deloris Jordan said. “The letters of Coach Smith and Coach Gunthrie’s letters I have in a vault. I accumulated all that stuff as he was getting prepared to go to college.”
Deloris Jordan said virtually all of the items in Michael Jordan’s restaurants and entities are replicas.
“I wouldn’t take that risk of leaving it. It’s so valuable and you can’t replace it,” she said. “I have so many things I have been able to really hold onto and these things I would not have given to anybody. What they have is a copy.”
She doesn’t plan to take the items out of her vault as proof but says she’s leaving the decision up to potential buyers.
“It’s up to the public—who do you believe?” she said. “Do you believe the auction house or do you believe me? I know what I have and again to the people who do want to buy online, go ahead and buy. But I couldn’t sit by and say that these are authentic when I know they’re not.”