Famed Beverly Hills Courier columnist George Christy gives you an insider's peek into Hollywood's A-list parties and personalities.

The impact of eBay auctions is spawning a gigantic crush of collectors. So informs Tom Gregory, 49, who’s amassed one of the great collections of more than 400 autographed photographs of cinema gods and goddesses, and historical figures such as Albert Einstein, whose rare photo cost Tom $15,000.

This week, the two cowboy shirts worn by Brokeback Mountain’s Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, which Tom won for $101,100.51 during an eBay auction for Variety’s Children Charity of Southern California, were installed in an exhibition at the Gene Autry Museum’s Imagination Gallery. “They were picked up for $10 each at a vintage outlet in Hollywood,” muses Tom, who’s collected other Brokeback memorabilia, such as the postcards used in the movie. “I flew to Calgary, where Brokeback was filmed, to buy the postcards directly from the prop master for $39,000, and gave $10,000 to the Variety Children’s Charity, since that launched my Brokeback connection.”

Overall, Tom estimates spending more than $700,000 for this trove that includes a signed photograph of Abraham Lincoln by Matthew Brady (Tom paid $109,000; the late Malcolm Forbes paid more than double that). He also owns a photo of astronaut Neil Armstrong taken on Tranquility Base when he and fellow astronauts made global history as they set foot on the moon. “I’m assuming it was snapped by Buzz Aldrin, who I’d love to autograph it. I paid $20,000 at auction. Astronaut autographs attract big bucks. An uncashed check for $10.50 from Neil Armstrong sold for $30,000. It doesn’t get much better than collecting astronaut memorabilia.”

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