Dear John: I found stock certificates for Playboy in a box in my closet. I took them to ScottTrade to sell, but they said they couldn’t help me.
I have been trying to track this down on my own, but got nowhere. Maybe you can point me in the right direction. I know it’s not much money, but it’s mine. B.V.
Dear B.V.: Playboy was taken private in 2011, and shareholders were paid $6.15 a share. You have one certificate for seven Class A shares and another for 21 Class B shares. So, in all, that would have been worth $172.20.
You can still cash these in by contacting Playboy’s transfer agent at the time, American Stock Transfer Co. in Brooklyn. The phone number is (888) 328-5369. There are some forms you will have to fill out.
But there is a lot more to the story about Playboy’s stock.
The certificates you showed me have a picture of a woman in flowing robes holding the globe. There’s a composite of various cities in the background.
These old certificates could possibly fetch $60 from collectors, according to Bob Kerstein, founder and chief executive of Scripophily.com, which deals in collectibles.
Before the ones you own were issued, Playboy certificates had the image of a naked woman at the top — the February 1971 Playmate named Willy Rey (real name: Wilhelmina Rietveld), who posed for the image when Playboy went public that year.
Tragically, Willy Rey died of an overdose of sleeping pills in 1973 when she was 23 years old.
Her image stayed on the Playboy stock certificates until 1990, when the company recapitalized.
Why did Rey’s image get the boot? “The stock certificate quickly became a novelty, and at one point there were about 14,000 single shareholders,” making it costly for the company to keep issuing so many single shares, a Playboy spokesperson told me.
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