Paul Mawhinney's Record-Rama

Here is the video that people are talking about:

In the Stereophile forum, we have a thread discussing albums which are available only on vinyl, lacking a compact disc counterpart. In the video, Paul Mawhinney states that 83% of his material is unavailable on compact disc. His exact words are: "Eighty-three percent of the music that I have on those shelves you can't buy at any price, anywhere!"

Paul Mawhinney is trying to sell his collection of 1 million albums and 1.5 million singles. The video states that his collection is worth $50 million. Paul is asking for $3 million. Paul Mawhinney is troubled. He says:

It's heartbreaking to see that the world doesn't care or give a damn about saving it for future generations. That is depressing. But I am not gonna throw my life away because everyone out there is sleeping. I've already given my life to this collection. If nobody out there understands what I've done and what I have and what I've offered, then we have to give it up.

This story has been on our radar for a few years. Paul Mawhinney has been trying to sell his collection for at least a decade. According to Mawhinney, CD Now offered $28.5 million for the collection, before going bankrupt. That was in 1997. In 2002, negotiations with the Library of Congress fell through. The Pittsburgh Business Times reported:

According to Mr. Mawhinney, he reached a deal to sell his archives for a sum he would only describe as in the millions. Yet the Library of Congress, a national collection of cultural artifacts, later cut its bid in half, citing budget shortfalls, and requested he donate the rest, according to Mr. Mawhinney. Negotiations broke down late last year.

"They broke my heart. They broke my spirit. And I told them they could never call me again," said Mr. Mawhinney.

Here is an unedited outtake from the above video:

struts's picture

What an amazing guy and an amazing story. If I had $3m you'd better believe I would just have acquired the biggest record collection on earth! Someone at the Library of Congress (or Congress itself) should be shot for letting this one pass.

Donald's picture

What a cool story!

David Lunt's picture

Great story and a great twist about him launching David Bowie's career!

Philamore Lincoln Park's picture

This guy's Bowie story is a crock. David Bowie became an international superstar when Ziggy Stardust was released in 1972. RCA knew fully well what they had, and rereleased the albums Space Oddity (originally called Man of Words, Man of Music) and The Man Who Sold The World in November of 1972. These worldwide reissues included the United States.

Mike Owen's picture

This guy is a liar, not just about Bowie. I can't believe how many people say "If only I had 3,0,000...."Think about it, 90% of popular music is AWFUL. This guy is realizing he is holding onto a dying medium and wants the money while vinyl is going through it's trendy retro phase prior to biting the dust. The Library of Congress...ha ha, nice try Paul....many of the recordings in the LOC are ORIGINAL MASTERS not vinyl mass market releases, I'm not surprised they would not be interested in this "collection." This auction should have been entitled "Failed Record Store Clearance."

Joe's picture

It's not about the value of the "collection," it's about a man's life and the part of it he spent on this pursuit, as part of his life's work. What's the value of your life's work? Yeah. He's whining a bit. So what? If your life's work were ignored, marginalized or trivialized, you'd whine too.

DJ_TRoLL's picture

If he really wants to save the music, he'd break down his collection into smaller lots people could afford! $3million is about 1/16 of the $50 mil. it is supposed to be worth. If he sold the RS record for 1/16 of its cost alon, it would fit the average music lover's price range: anywhere from $375 to 625.If you spell his name a little different you get McWhiney. Guess what EVERYONE's life toils are ignored, marginalized, and trivialized, especially the working class, whose toils are the backbone of this society!Man, I'd really like to see a collection like that preserved! But I personally have no money and no large space to keep it. How did he ever earn enough to buy over 60,000 records and the building where he opened Record-Rama in the first place? And after that, if no one was buying how'd he afford to grow his collection to 2.5 million pieces?The man's story is amazing! If I were him my first priority would be to find the music a good home, not sell out!-music

Robert's picture

I tried to buy this collection for 146 dollars, but he said "no". What a punk. I was going to purchase your life's work, but NOOOO, you wouldn't let me. I'm going back to working on my porno.

will smith's picture

I can't understand why another collectors are not keen to purchase this collection.I suspect there are not too many valuable records there ...or perhaps this whole collection is not worthed 3 mills?If this collection really worths 50 mills in value, then I'm sure there're some people out there who will purchase it for only 3 mills...anyway the LP record prices have skyrocketed in the past few years (thx to audiophile communities :)) )

Pittsburgh Music Lover's picture

This guy has always been a whiner, and an elitist prick. Anyone who ever shopped at Record Rama in Pittsburgh was treated like dirt by this guy. He's drowned himself in this. The fact that he won't break up the "collection" is just greedy, if what he really wants is to retire. No one can afford the overhead of keeping the collection in one place so it will probably never sell. Good luck McWhiney!

Bill Andrews's picture

I have a collection of about 30,000 78's, 45's and LP's all primarily Ragtime, Hot Jazz, Popular Dance in the 1920's that would include 20,000 78's. Thousands of reel to reel tape recordings as well as about 4,000 Piano Rolls,etc. All of it relating to the Hot Jazz Era of the 20's and 30's...I have been accumulating these wonderful and rare recordings for the last 55 years or so. My hope is that I can somehow sell these to collections or individuals.

Paul (not the Mawhinney's Record Rama Paul Ok!)'s picture

Breathtaking story but however sad. I'm somehow bamboozled. If Library Of Congress didn't buy into this one, was it because it's worth close to nothing and has no significant value to our society and our future? Or it's worth something but tried to milk the guy? Is this a scam? I just don't get it!Then again, here’s my assessment, figure this one out for yourselves, just add it all up; 3 Million records on average at 3 $ a pop, you get 9 M$. Lets say the guy worked as a sales rep for 35 years at a whopping 50 K$ a year, you get 1.75 M$. Let alone the mortgages, the fees, the rent, the cost of doing business, etc. Where did the other 7.25 M$ come from?This story sounds far-fetched!I’ve been collecting since I was 14 and somehow only managed to amass 20,000 LP’s and 15,000 CD’s. That’s 35,000 records in 37 years and my entourage consider me as a compulsive buyer. What do you call a guy that has 3,0,000 records? The chosen one? A dark horse? The Pittsburgh madcap!Guess again!

SanMan95's picture

This man is rediculous. First off, Space Oddity was re-released in 1972 by RCA, not 1973, like he claims he waited until to make him known. In 1973, Bowie was already famous with Ziggy Stardust and the brand new (at the time) Aladdin Sane. Bowie had been making music since 1967 under the name "Davie Jones". Next, 1,000,000 records? Seriously? There's NOOOO WAY anyone can possibly collect that many. 1 million sounds way too big to be true. Either this guy desperately needs money, or he's let his record collecting get the best of him, to the point where he believes he made David Bowie, a music legend, famous. Maybe if he decided to split his "massive" record collection up, it'd grab some attention, but what he doesn't understand is that money is VERY hard to come to today, and nobody has $3 million to be tossing around over a record collection which probably has at the most thousands, not a million. Vinyl is just about dead, and the only people out there still interested are collectors. I highly he doubt he cares about the future generations, but more about getting $3 million.