Features

Stuart Lurie – Certified Collectibles Group  

Providing authentic legal advice to collectibles authentication co.  

In an episode of “Pawn Stars” from Season 6 in 2012, a seller brought in some government of Texas currency he was looking to sell for $650,000. The value was “over the moon,” according to the expert Rick Harrison called upon to evaluate the notes.  

Stuart Lurie | General Counsel | Certified Collectibles Group  

Stuart Lurie | General Counsel | Certified Collectibles Group

The seller thought the expert had no idea what he was talking, but one thing wasn’t in dispute: the authenticity of the currency, because the notes had the familiar marking that said “Paper Money Guaranty” on top.  

PMG is one of eight divisions of Certified Collectibles Group, renowned for its expert and unbiased services in authenticating, grading and preserving collectibles like coins, trading cards, comic books, stamps and more.  

“With our trusted services, CCG has made it safer and easier for collectors to buy and sell valuable collectibles worldwide, says Stuart Lurie, the company’s general counsel.  

In 2021, CCG was acquired by Blackstone, a leading private equity firm, and became a portfolio company under its umbrella. This transition from being founder-owned and founder-led to being purchased by a large firm required adjustments and an increased focus on internal operations—Lurie played a supporting role during the acquisition process. 

The acquisition prompted CCG to invest more in its internal operations, leading to a more refined approach to data analytics and business strategy. As Lurie and his team continue to focus on enhancing their administrative capabilities and becoming more data-driven, it’s resulted in a more mature and sophisticated process.  

Grading the deal 

When Lurie last spoke to Vanguard in January 2021, he was less than two years into his role as general counsel. The Blackstone deal was in the works, and he was growing more confident in making CCG a more efficient organization.  

Now, with the Blackstone acquisition fully in the rearview mirror, Lurie has been able to focus on other matters important to CCG’s operations.   

Stuart Lurie | General Counsel | Certified Collectibles Group  

One of those matters was a lawsuit involving coin tampering after a man removed coins from Numismatic Guaranty Company (a CCG division) holders and replaced them with coins of lesser grade and value. The six-month-long case was settled with NGC being reimbursed costs, and a permanent injunction was issued restraining the man from any further misrepresentation of NGC-certified coins. 

“CCG is a guardian of the market, so we stepped in to stop this guy because we were in a position to help, and our company’s reputation is at stake whenever something like this happens,” Lurie explains.  

Another big matter is the recent closing of CCG’s acquisition of James Spence Authentication, or JSA, a premier autograph authentication company. Lurie says CCG is bringing over the entire JSA organization and that integration of the nuts and bolts of the operation will take some time.  

Because of the nature of its business, CCG has a rather comprehensive insurance portfolio that includes, in addition to traditional business lines, a collectibles floater that covers the company’s various locations across the globe.  

Recently, the company also took out an additional policy to ensure that the shipments of collectibles are returned to customers.  

“There is a lot of return shipping risk, but we can pool that risk and take out a policy protecting it,” Lurie explains. “We give that benefit to the customer to make the submission, authentication, and grading process a more seamless experience.” 

Expanding operations  

CCG is based in Sarasota, Florida, and has offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, London and Munich—JSA has its headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey and another location in Ft. Lauderdale. 

As the demand for the company’s services grows, so does the need to grow the company’s operations around the world. To meet the demand, Lurie says CCG plans to expand its grading services to other countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Japan.  

Stuart Lurie | General Counsel | Certified Collectibles Group  

“We’ve identified the UAE as a valuable market. It is a huge economic center, and there is a lot of business to be done there,” he says. “Japan is a very ripe collectibles market that we can certainly service.” 

Having a great market with unlimited potential is important, but those new offices in those countries will only succeed with the right people in place. Lurie says the managerial positions are the most important hires in those jurisdictions.  

Having a strong team is also crucial to the business’s overall success. Lurie is a team of one in the legal department, but he is supported on many matters by colleagues spanning many departments. He also relies on outside counsel in the U.S. and the company’s foreign places of business. 

“I think at some point, as our company continues to grow, we’ll grow our legal team,” Lurie says. 

An authentic career 

Unlike many lawyers, Lurie did not necessarily have an interest in law from an early age. 

He attended Syracuse University with designs on being a television newscaster, and he earned degrees in economics and broadcast journalism from the world-renowned Newhouse School.  

“I narrowed my career choices down to being a TV newsman, getting a PhD in economics or going to law school,” Lurie recalls. “I took a communications law course about the First Amendment that really sparked my interest in the legal world.” 

He earned a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and spent six years as an attorney for Pepper Hamilton before working as an of counsel lawyer for two firms for over five years. Lurie was then a founding partner with RLB Law Group for over eight years before joining CCG in April 2019. 

“I did the big firm thing and the small firm thing, but I had never been an in-house attorney,” he says. “But I liked the idea of being more embedded and able to identify potential problems before they happen. I got lucky that the position with CCG was available, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.” 

Published on: May 9, 2024

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