Jostens Files Lawsuit Against Auction House Over ‘Stolen’ Duplicate of Ben Zobrist’s 2016 World Series Ring | MLB

The maker of the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship rings filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against an auction house and collector over a replica ring bearing Ben Zobrist’s name that the lawsuit alleges was stolen.

The manufacturing company, Jostens, said the duplicate ring was worth more than $75,000. Jostens seeks monetary damages to be determined at trial.

Jostens argues in the lawsuit that Heritage Auctions did not return the ‘stolen’ sample ring that was to be auctioned last year and that its collector is ‘not relinquishing its claim to the stolen sample. “.

Jostens in the lawsuit said Heritage Auctions had indicated that it would not transfer possession “without a duly signed release of title claim or a court order directing the release of the ring.”

When the auction house tweeted last June that Zobrist would be the first Cubs player ring to go up for auction, speculation as to why the 2016 World Series Most Valuable Player would sell off his prized possession was currency. commonplace, including in the Cubs clubhouse.

A player said Zobrist’s former teammates could buy the ring at auction and return it to him. Heritage Auctions told the Kansas City Star that the ring’s owner was “a collector of championship gear” and purchased it from Zobrist.

But the day after the story went viral in 2021, Zobrist denied selling her ring. His representatives sent the Tribune a time-stamped photo of Zobrist wearing the ring to prove it was still in his possession.

“I had a conversation with him twice,” agent Scott Pucino told the Tribune that day. “I said, ‘Are you sure you’re not selling it?’ He said, ‘No, that doesn’t make sense. Why would I sell this ring? I will never get rid of this ring – never, never, never.'”

Heritage Auctions attorney Josh Benesh declined to comment on details of the lawsuit or whether the ring in question was real. When the ring’s title dispute began last June, it was removed from the auction and remained in the possession of Heritage.

“Heritage has a strict policy to ensure that our shippers represent and warrant that they have good title and would never knowingly sell an item that has been stolen,” Benesh said. “We would never knowingly sell an item whose authenticity is questioned.”

The auction house appears to be caught in the middle as the consignee and Jostens both claim ownership, a matter that will now be decided in court after the parties failed to reach an agreement. Players can often order duplicate championship rings to wear or display while the real one is kept in a safe place.

According to those who have seen the duplicate of the Cubs championship ring, it is very similar to the actual ring but with a few modifications that are noticeable upon closer inspection.

Zobrist’s revelation that he still had his championship ring seemed like the end of the story.

But according to the lawsuit, Heritage Auctions contacted Jostens on June 10, 2021 and was told her ring was a duplicate that had been stolen. Jostens, with the Cubs’ permission, had made a sample ring modeled after Zobrist’s with “distinguishing features” to differentiate it from the actual World Series rings distributed to players, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that in February 2018, a Jostens designer left seven ring samples, including Zobrist’s sample, with another professional sports organization that was considering making its own championship rings.

At some point, the rings were stolen, according to the lawsuit.

“A police report was filed,” the lawsuit said, “but the stolen rings were never found.”

Jostens was able to determine from the heritage auction ring photo on his Twitter account that it was the sample ring. According to the lawsuit, Jostens claims he “attempted to work with Heritage Auctions and (the collector) for months to recover” the “stolen property.”

The suit says the original rings were created to commemorate “the first World Series championship in franchise history.” However, the Cubs also won in 1907 and 2008, but rings were not awarded for those championships.

The lawsuit says Heritage Auctions informed Jostens that it would retain possession until “its authenticity and ownership” were resolved, which led to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said Jostens demands a “trial by jury on all of its claims and any other matter if justiciable.”

“We are grateful that we were able to work with Heritage to stop the auction of our sample ring,” Chris Poitras, general manager of professional and collegiate athletics for Jostens, said in a statement. “But it is unfortunate that we had to take legal action to recover it. We can’t wait to see this ring returned to Jostens.

©2022 Chicago Tribune. To visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Content Agency Tribune, LLC.