Last week, we reported on accusations of market manipulation by both WATA Games and Heritage Auctions. Consequently, more details have emerged as grading company WATA Games now has new ownership. As well as the discovery of an eBay store run by one of its founders.
Thanks to some clever reporting by Seth Abramson, it has been discovered one of the founders of WATA Games has been running an eBay store for some time. This comes after comments made to the New York Times where WATA founder Deniz Kahn assured those worried about WATA’s place in the re-selling of graded games. With that said, WATA employees are not allowed to sell WATA graded games.
A Mark Haspel from Bradenton, FL runs an eBay store called “vintagecomicsonparade,” This is believed to be the same Mark Haspel that founded WATA with Kahn in 2017. Haspel was recently accused of buying massive quantities of sealed retro games. When it comes to the grading and reselling of these games, there are two major issues.
Vintagecomicsonparade eBay Store ran by WATA Games Founder
First, WATA employees, especially someone at the level of Mark Haspel, would have insider knowledge of WATA’s Population Reports. These are reports grading companies publish to keep the market aware of what is actually out there in terms of graded collectibles. As I am sure now regretfully, WATA does not publish a population report. So, someone like Mark Haspel might be one of a few people with this information. This is problematic given the accusations around the recent selling of multiple million-dollar games.
Secondly, Haspel has extreme prejudice over the grade given to his games. As someone who represents the company, he is nearly grading these games himself. He has significant influence over whoever is grading these games at WATA. Again, this is very problematic when it comes to the accusations of WATA influencing the market of graded retro games.
Especially considering the 74 games listed in his eBay storefront, nothing is currently for sale under a 9.2 grade. The “m*s*h” account that runs the eBay store has a 100% positive feedback rating, with 2,210 transactions on the platform dating back to 1998. 120 of the 175 marks of feedback against the account have come within the past year.
Another substantial update to our story, WATA Games is now under new ownership. As of late July, WATA Games was acquired by Collectors Universe. A company headed by new Mets owner Steve Cohen. Collectors Universe is the parent company of popular card grading outlet Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). In addition to a coin grading company, Professional Coin Grading Service. Collectors Universe has promised to let WATA continue to run as it has under its existing leadership. It is hard to tell how long that may last given today’s news.