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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, already under scrutiny for his undisclosed real estate deals with developer Harlan Crow, is attracting renewed attention for receiving a valuable piece of 1990s Super Bowl memorabilia from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The Arkansas oilman, NFL franchise owner and real estate developer is the second billionaire businessman with ties to real estate who has reportedly offered valuable gifts to Thomas — in this case, a coveted ring from the Cowboys 1993 Super Bowl victory.
The difference, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News, is that the Super Bowl ring was disclosed in Thomas’s 1994 ethics form, unlike some of the transactions with and gifts from Crow.
Since then, the ring has likely ballooned in value. Ken Goldwin of “King of Collectibles” fame told The News that Super Bowl rings provided to non-players typically sell for $20,000 to $25,000. But in this case — given Thomas’s unique profile — it could be worth more than $100,000, the memorabilia expert said.
But estimates in this world vary greatly, and another expert pegged the value of a typical 1993 Super Bowl ring anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000, based on previous auctions. It’s also unknown whether the gift was a ring of the type offered to players, or one that’s typically given to front-office personnel, which could affect the value.
“Of course, it’s hard to give a precise estimation without examining it,” Dallas-based sports auctions expert Chris Ivy told the newspaper. “But in the end, it’s ultimately worth whatever two people are willing to pay.”
The report documents examples of Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl rings that have sold for $55,000 and just under $90,000.
Jones is known to most as the oil wildcatter who struck it big enough to purchase the Cowboys for $140 million in 1989. But in recent years, he’s become more active with his real estate company Blue Star Land, which has scooped up properties and built commercial and mixed-use developments in the suburbs north of Dallas. These projects include the Cowboys headquarters project The Star in Frisco, which opened in 2016.
The gift, while disclosed publicly at the time by Thomas, highlights the nature of the access that business leaders can have to members of the nation’s highest court. And it serves as yet another example of an item of value that can be legally given to a Supreme Court justice.
In April, ProPublica detailed Crow’s purchase of three residential properties from Thomas in 2014. One of those properties included the home where Thomas’s mother still lives. The former CEO of Dallas-based real estate developer Crow Holdings later poured tens of thousands of dollars into improvements at the mother’s home in Savannah, Georgia.
Thomas did not disclose the $133,363 sale of the properties at the time, ProPublica reported. Justices and other officials are required by law to report real estate deals over $1,000, four ethics experts told the publication.
After the report came out, Thomas amended his filings to reflect the real estate transactions.