Scalpers Profit Big on '12-12-12' Benefit Concert for Sandy Victims

Friday, 07 Dec 2012 09:51 AM

By Mark Holthaus

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Thanks to the charitable intentions of its organizers, next Wednesday’s soldout, star-studded “12-12-12” benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City for victims of Superstorm Sandy has become a scalper’s paradise.

Not only were there tickets at unusually low prices to a great show — Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, , Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, The Who, Kanye West — the publicity surrounding such a good cause has driven demand for tickets sky high and scalping greed to new lows in what is euphemistically called the “secondary market.”

The show sold out immediately when tickets went on sale on Monday.

The highest asking price, so far, is $60,000 for a ticket that couldn’t have cost more than $2,500 when it was sold through Ticketmaster, the official ticket agent for the concert. On ticket reseller StubHub, floor seats were going for as much as $38,000 and upper level seats were being sold for at least $400, the local CBS affiliate reported.

“A regular ticket that would be like $200 would be at $700, $800,” one woman looking for tickets told a reporter.

“I have 2 tickets for the 12-12-12 Sandy Benefit concert at the Madison Square Garden. Sec. 208 Row 2. The seats are next to each other. Must sell both ticket together — $750 per ticket,” reads an offer on Craigslist on Friday that featured a colored seating layout of Madison Square Garden. “Will accept best offer by Saturday at noon. Can meet on Saturday anyway between the Pocono's and Hartford, CT.”

A look at the seating layout shows the tickets are for a “nose bleed” section and probably had an original face value of $150 when they were purchased through Ticketmaster.

Seats in a nearby high-altitude section went for $3,700 on StubHub, the New York Post reported.

The Robin Hood Foundation, the charitable organization sponsoring the benefit concert which is being produced by Harvey Weinstein, said there is nothing to stop scalpers from pocketing the profits they make off selling their tickets.

StubHub said on its website that it is donating some of fees collected from its ticket sales to the Robin Hood Foundation and is providing sellers an option to donate the money they make off their tickets to the charity.

That prompted a letter from New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman demanding that StubHub clarify how any 12-12-12 will get to Sandy victims.

“Your Web site states that ‘StubHub will donate 100 percent of the profits from this event to the Robin Hood Relief Fund,’ ” he wrote. “It is unclear to the public what is meant by ‘profits’ and how much will in fact be donated from each sale, especially since the producers of this concert have committed to donating 100 percent of ticket sales to the Robin Hood Relief Fund.”

Either totally naïve about the avarice that drives ticket scalping or simply grandstanding, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. elbowed his way into the 12-12-12 spotlight with fantasy posturing about forcing “resellers” to donate profits from their sales to the Robin Hood Foundation.

"I find it extremely disheartening that people are trying to profit off this concert rather than focusing all their attention on helping those that were harmed by Superstorm Sandy," Schumer wrote in a letter on Thursday to StubHub and leading online ticket resellers TicketExchange, TicketsNow and TicketLiquidator Thursday.

StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman said a plan proposed by Schumer to make it more difficult for scalpers to resell tickets to 12-12-12 at a price higher than the $150-$2,500 than they originally paid for them "may not be technologically possible."

The concert will be televised live on IFC at 7:30 p.m.

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