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    Posted on Sat, Jun. 14, 2008 10:15 PM

    Missing comics caper marked by drama, big money

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    In 1996 federal authorities arrested him when he tried to sell a 1933 Double Eagle gold piece for $1.5 million. The legendary coin likely was the only one of its kind still in public possession. Only a few of the coins escaped destruction when America went off the gold standard. Owning one was illegal, but federal officials later dropped charges against Parrino.

    In 2002, Parrino paid $350,000 for a special copy of a rare comic book. The sum was thought then to be the largest ever for one comic.

    Frank Mangiaracina, who is not involved in the lawsuit and operates three comic shops in the Kansas City area, said the Superman comic from about 1938 can be worth $1 million today in mint condition. But it is extremely rare.

    In near-mint condition, it’s worth $675,000. In much poorer condition, it’s worth $42,000.

    The first Batman, he said, is worth from $35,000 to $525,000.

    Another of the five missing comics, “Detective Comics” No. 1 with Fu Manchu on the cover, has sold for $68,000 in nice condition, he said, but it is so rare, “I’ve only seen maybe two or three copies in my life.”

    Having those three books in hand, if they truly existed, would excite any dealer or collector, he said.

    “The odds of a guy having all three of those are pretty unlikely,” Mangiaracina said

    He said the 40 or so nonvaluable comics listed, such as “ROM Spaceknight,” should not have been in the same collection or box with the five valuable books, which also included “The X-men” No. 1 and “The Incredible Hulk” No. 1.

    That’s like packaging a cheap watercolor with the Mona Lisa, he said.

    A hearing on whether to extend the temporary restraining order against Parrino is scheduled for Wednesday.

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    The Star’s Mark Morris contributed to this report. To reach Joe Lambe, call 816-234-4314 or send e-mail to


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