The Top 20 most expensive Sisters bootlegs sold on eBay in 2020
Now is perfect time to look at what happened with Sisters bootlegs on eBay over the last year. I do this little exercise every year as I find that it is a good way to understand where the market is going, and whether my collection is increasing or decreasing in value.
Since there were hundreds of Sisters bootlegs sold in 2020, I have decided to narrow down my overview to the Top 20 most expensive bootlegs sold on the auction website.
But before I start, I want to give a little disclaimer which is that this analysis is not scientific nor is it foolproof. To build my data set, I used both Popsike and ValueYourMusic, which had certain discrepancies between them, so users beware.
The other important point to note is that this overview only concerns eBay, because it is the only online marketplace for which yearly public data is readily available. Sisters bootlegs are sold via more channels, such as Discogs (yes, there are still some bootlegs available on the marketplace), CDandLP and other online marketplaces, and more importantly, privately. From experience, I can say that the most valuable items are usually transacted privately between collectors, and therefore the average eBay valuation for Sisters bootlegs is on the low side. If all sales (including private sales) were to be included, the numbers would be much higher.
Before I review the individual items that made it to the Top 20, I wanted to first do a little analysis on this sample to see if we can find any interesting trend, especially compared to the four previous years. If you don't care for the macro analysis, you can skip straight to Part II and the individual review of the Top 20 items.
Finally, I want to say that I may sound harsh in some of my assessments below but please understand that I mean no disrespect to any collector. The value of second hand records is intrinsically subjective and personal. Pretty much the entire population of our planet would think I am stupid to spend so much money buying from a band hardly nobody knows outside of a small group of aficionados. I have myself frequently overpaid for items just because I wanted to own them so again, all I am doing here is trying to look rationally at an activity that is fundamentally subjective. So I hope nobody will be offended by my rambling.
PART I : MARKET OVERVIEW
1-Top 20 most expensive bootlegs by origin
In the world of Sisters bootlegs, releases can be broken down in six categories, corresponding to their origin:
- Classic bootlegs from 1984-1999 (mostly from Europe and the US);
- Modern Greek bootlegs
- Modern Australian bootlegs
- Modern European bootlegs (mostly from Eastern Europe and Germany)
- Other modern bootlegs (Israel, etc)
- Fake bootlegs (mostly from Greece and Italy)
In 2020, as we can see on the chart below, 9 of the Top 20 most expensive bootlegs sold on eBay were classic bootlegs, alongside 6 Greek bootlegs, 2 European bootlegs and 3 fake bootlegs. Compared to 2019, we have more classic bootlegs and less Greek bootlegs. The big change concerns the Australian bootlegs, of which none made the top 20 in 2020. The other big news is that no less than 3 of the 20 most expensive bootlegs sold on eBay were actually fakes, against none in 2019. This is a big trend and it is concerning as it shows that more and more fakes are produced and that they successfully fool collectors.
If we look at the evolution over the past five years, some interesting trends emerge.
Greek bootlegs have been relatively stable within the Top 20 since 2018 while Classic bootlegs experienced a very severe dip in 2018 and 2019 corresponding to the apparition of a whole series of new limited titles from Australia which took a significant market share of the premium bootleg segment. But as more and more Australian releases saturated the market, the collectors lost interest which led to a collapse of the premium Australian bootleg market in 2020, while Classic bootlegs are making a gentle comeback. Meanwhile, modern European bootlegs are slowly making an imprint, even though the numbers are still limited. And as mentioned before, 2020 sees forgers manage to place 3 fakes in the Top 20, which is disconcerting and a bad omen for the future.
2-Top 20 most expensive bootlegs by format
Another interesting data is which formats are represented among the Top 20 most expensive bootlegs of 2020. For the sake of this overview, I split the formats into four types:
- Box sets or special presentations;
- Other non-music media such as test sleeves.
In 2020, the vast majority of the Top 20 releases were vinyl: 16. There were only 3 lathe cuts, and 1 other. This contrasts with 2019 and 2018, when lathe cuts had a stronger presence in the Top 20, a consequence of a flourish of new releases from Greece, most of them in the shape of limited box sets which fetched very high prices. In 2020, our notorious Greek bootlegger decided to switch back to vinyl for his latest series of releases, which explained the drop for the lathe cut category.
4-Top 20 by titles
5. Top 20 in value
Now that we have looked at the typology of the releases making the Top 20, let's dive in the financial overview.
From an economic standpoint, 2020 was a good year for Sisters bootlegs. If we add up the value of the twenty items making the Top 20, we get an aggregated value of 6,729 USD, which corresponds to a growth of 12% from 2019 and just a little short of an all time record of 6,820 USD reached in 2017. Not bad considering the global economy has been wrecked by the pandemic.
Looking at individual pricing, we find that 2020 is breaking several records: most expensive item at 642 USD, most expensive median item (that is, the tenth item in the Top 20 list) at 300 USD, and highest least expensive Top 20 item, at 236 USD. In 2016, a sale of 199 USD made the Top 20. It took 15% more in 2020 to make the list.
PART II : 2020 TOP 20 MOST EXPENSIVE EBAY BOOTLEGS
|Where is the signature?|
We are now getting into the Top 10! And boy, this one is quite puzzling. Yes, Sodium Haze is one of the legendary Sisters bootlegs. It looks and sounds great and is an essential part to any Sisters collection. But one should be able to fetch a good numbered copy of the first edition (as with this copy for sale) for a little over 100 USD. The first edition was pressed in 600 copies, so this guarantees that there are copies available at any given time. So why pay 300 USD for this? I don't know the answer. Perhaps the buyer was enticed by the four random live photographs included in the package? But that's not worth an extra 200 USD. My guess is that the buyer confused the item for sale (the common first edition in picture sleeve with a red info sheet) with the much rarer red xerox sheet cover edition of this release.
|The much rarer "red cover" 2nd edition, has red but doesn't play in the same league...|
The red cover is part of the second edition and is extremely rare. In fact only 4 people claim to own it on Discogs, and it sold only once on the marketplace, for a whopping 589 EUR in 2016! In conclusion, the price is way too much for a first edition.
|Why aren't you numbered like all the others???|
|I want to look at you, you are so beautiful...|