Baseball signed by Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be sold for aid in Ukraine

KIEV: When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a baseball for an American collector in 2019, he probably had no idea it would ever be used to help his country in times of need.
The official Rawlings Major League baseball is being sold by Randy Kaplan, a renowned collector of balls signed by world leaders, with a portion of the proceeds going to war relief efforts in Ukraine, Boston auctioneer RR Auction said Tuesday.
The ball was expected to sell for at least $15,000, but Tuesday’s lead bid had already exceeded that amount, an RR spokesperson said.
“With what’s going on in the world right now, it makes sense to auction it right now because the proceeds will help the people of Ukraine,” Kaplan said in a telephone interview.
“What is going on in Ukraine is a disgrace and it breaks my heart to see the people dying there. Their needs are so dire right now.”
The ball is signed with black felt-tip pen, in both Ukrainian Cyrillic and Latin letters. It is accompanied by a transfer letter, signed by Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, which reads: “Dear Mr. Kaplan, enclosed you will find a baseball, signed by the President of Ukraine, HE Mr. Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the visit to New York in September 2019.”
In addition to the unspecified percentage of sales that will be donated through the global non-profit organization Americares, RR Auction will contribute its buyer’s premium and seller’s commission to war relief efforts. Americares’ website describes its humanitarian response in Ukraine as addressing the medical needs of millions of refugees.
Kaplan is a New York-based government affairs specialist who has extensive contacts with the UN and US politics. He does not buy his baseballs at an auction, but acquires them himself through those contacts.
He started his collection in 1996 when former President Bill Clinton signed a baseball for him at a meeting in Washington, DC. The collection, which now numbers more than 500 items, is on display in museums and presidential libraries across the country.
This isn’t the first time he’s auctioned off a piece from his collection, but this is probably the first time he’s sold a ball signed by such a prominent leader, a man he’s come to admire during the war of the country with Russia.
“I really hope Zelenskyy survives this,” Kaplan said.
“He’s a very brave man.”
The auction ending May 11 will also include autographs and artifacts from Johann Sebastian Bach, Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein.

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