One of the rooms in Gendron’s North Shore office space (for security reasons he’d rather not say precisely where) features a state-of-the-art computerized matte-cutting machine.
All framing is done in-house; it’s one of the ways the company adds value to its autographs, which are often scribbled on scraps of paper or index cards. Pulling out a collector’s binder full of signed 8 x 10 glossy photos, Gendron flips it open.
“Boring!” he says.
The kid who once gawked at his favorite basketball players has grown into a self-made connoisseur of history. He and his brother are set to launch a separate entity that will deal in ephemera, art, and cultural artifacts.
At the moment, Gendron is infatuated with a plastic bin of items from the files of the late Chester V. Clifton Jr., who was a military aide to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He acquired it at an estate sale, on a tip from one of the many industry “treasure hunters” he knows.
He reaches into the bin, pushes aside a stack of curled black-and-white photographs, and pulls out an old copy of Life magazine, addressed to “The President, White House.”
“That stuff’s gone crazy,” he says.
He’s especially proud that he befriended Sir Edmund Hillary before the adventurer’s death in 2008, showing a visitor a snapshot of Hillary signing a stack of photos at his New Zealand home.
These days, Gendron is most interested in epic undertakings — Hillary’s Mount Everest ascent, or Armstrong’s moonwalk. In its own way, his business has grown into something he could not have imagined.
“Building something bigger and better has always motivated me,” he says.
Surprisingly, for such a fastidious curator of things of value, he’s not sure what became of the old basketball cards he used to have signed at the Garden.
“They might still be in my parents’ closet,” he says.
James Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.