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What are the best luxury gifts for sports fans?

Here’s a common gifting dilemma: someone in your life loves sports, or is passionate about a particular team – professional or college. They also have a good eye and refined tastes. Or a wicked sense of humor. So the usual T-shirt, hat or team sweatshirt is just not going to get the job done. Said another way, Modell’s is not going to cut it. Where can you turn to find upscale – dare we say luxurious – sports apparel and accessories suitable for the elegant precincts of Park Avenue, Miami Beach, or Beverly Hills? Or for the cool-kid streets of Brooklyn, Austin or Atlanta? Look no further. We’ve got you covered for the holidays, an upcoming birthday, the start of the season, or a spontaneous surprise. As part of our holiday gifting series, today’s post is about how to give a sports fan the perfect luxury gift.

We surveyed the members of our Sports Desk and checked in with some of our far-flung correspondents to gather suggestions from people who actually know what they’re talking about (sadly, shoes and handbags are not really appropriate for this gifting occasion, so we personally had very little to add). They had some creative ideas and practical suggestions. We could go for some of these ourselves, actually (self-gifting is totally allowed).

Here’s our Dandelion Chandelier list of gift ideas for the discerning sports fans in your life:

1. The Elder Statesman X NBA. LA-based knitwear line The Elder Statesman has an exclusive partnership with the NBA and Barney’s that “blends the worlds of luxury apparel and professional sports.” The line includes men’s and women’s cashmere sweaters and sweatshirts ($1,620-$2,100), cashmere-silk T-shirts ($585-$590), cashmere scarves ($600-$725) and knit hats ($420-$480). There’s clearly a bit of parochialism afoot here: the LA Lakers sweaters are nearly twice the price of the Chicago Bulls version.

2. Hand-crafted embroidered cotton and leather belts that would not be out of place at a traditional office, or on the streets of Nantucket, bearing professional and college team logos can be found at Peter Millar (their Collegiate Collection has every NCAA team – $98) or Smathers and Branson ($165 will get you most college and professional baseball and football teams, packaged in a handsome leather box).

3. Sterling silver cufflinks. Bergdorf’s and Neiman Marcus offer Cufflinks Inc. items in sterling silver that are officially NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL-approved. There are classic cufflinks in the shape of the retro AFL logo, football helmets, team logos and Super Bowl commemorations ($220-$520). You can get a pair fashioned from the stadium seats at the Patriots home field in Foxboro ($200) or from a game-used football ($200). There are fanciful pairs that are not sterling silver in the shape of goal posts ($65) and bobbleheads ($160). You can also find money clips ($49), lapel pins ($25) and tie bars ($36).

4. Art work. You can opt for a work by LeRoy Neiman if that’s your thing. But if you want something a bit less representational, on 1st Dibs you can find a 20 X 24 inch horizontal oil and 23-carat gold leaf painting of the number 12 on a red background, a “symbolic portrait of one of America’s superstar athletes, Tom Brady.” A vertical version is also available with a dark blue background. The artist is Charlotte Andry Gibbs, who lives in New England. For a Pats’ fan, it doesn’t get any better than that. Consider it a steal at $2,200.

5. Sports memorabilia. Buyer beware: it is said that only 35% of sports memorabilia is authentic – which means you have to deal with a reputable, seasoned dealer. Here are a few to consider:

  • Lots of our jet set pals swear by Steiner Sports – they carry memorabilia from every sport. They have game-used jerseys, vintage equipment, baseball cards, game programs and photos. Just a small sample: when we last visited, you could purchase an Aaron Judge signed Home Run Derby jersey for $799.99; a Tom Brady-signed Pats jersey for $1,499.99, or a baseball signed by Joe DiMaggio for $1,299.99. They are the exclusive distributor of hand-signed memorabilia from Derek Jeter, Eli Manning, Henrik Lundqvist and Patick Ewing.
  • Fanatics Authentic has an autographed Kobe Bryant jersey for $1,249.99 and a basketball signed by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant from the 2017 NBA Finals for $1,999.99.
  • Heritage Auctions has sports jerseys, signed footballs, championship rings, photos, play books and all manner of sports ephemera. Prices start as low as $300 and go into the stratosphere. Many items can be bought online; at last check, we found a 2011 Aaron Rodgers Game Worn Packers Jersey from the NFL season opener for $35,000. Also vintage ticket stubs for $20,000; a Peyton Manning signed Colts jersey for $11,999 and a football signed by Dan Merino for $225. There are also upcoming live auctions on October 28th in New York and November 16-18 in Dallas.
  • On 1st Dibs, for $14,500 you can purchase a Shaquille O’Neal 2001 Los Angeles Lakers Championship Diamond gold ring. It was created to the exact specs of the original rings – these were given as gifts to members of Shaq’s entourage.
  • Christie’s and Sotheby’s also have sports memorabilia auctions periodically.
  • If money is no object, two significant documents in sports history are going on the auction block this fall. Jackie Robinson’s original professional baseball contracts with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Montreal Royals will be sold by Goldin Auctions at a live auction on November 16th at the Jackie Robinson Museum. The two documents will be sold as one lot, with an appraised value of $36 million.

6. Tickets to a big game. If your gift recipient is living the mogul life, they probably already have season tickets or a luxury suite at the stadium of their choice. Even so, great seats at a sporting event are highly likely to be welcome – just get them for a game out of town, or for a different sport. If you want to go for broke, consider gifting a pair of the most sought-after tickets in the upcoming season. In the NBA, for example, you could gift seats for the January 15, 2018 match-up between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. They’re also playing on December 25, 2017 if you want to spend the day that way. The Cavs meet the Boston Celtics on February 11, 2018. You get the idea. Pick a contest that anyone with even a passing interest in sports would want to see. And expect to pay north of $1,000 per ticket.

Some curmudgeonly types might say that the best gift for a passionate sports fan is being left in peace to watch the game, with no interruptions, impatient sighs, or nagging about chores. We’ll leave that one to you and yours. Those are very delicate negotiations.

In our book, the best gift you could give the dedicated sports fan in your life might be to learn how to talk sports with them. Not for hours. But for, like, 10-15 minutes. If like us, you have very little interest in sports but you have loved ones, friends and family who are deeply invested in it, then why not surprise them by actually being able to talk about The Big Game? If you’re up for the challenge, just read our weekly TWIST posting every Sunday, and you’ll be able to surprise and delight your gift recipient with a lasting heartfelt gesture. You’ll actually be able to speak their language. And that might be the best luxury sports fan gift of all.

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