Murray Gershenz has spent nearly three quarters of a century collecting the albums that fill the dusty wooden shelves of his two-story West Adams record shop. From opera classics to big band, country western, jazz, R&B and rock, Gershenz has lived up to his business credo, “You name it, we find it.”
The problem is he can’t rid himself of it. For the last three years, the 89-year-old has been trying to sell the entire collection, more than 300,000 records, to one lucky bidder. Gershenz’s attorney said a conservative estimate places the value of the collection at $1.5 million; an average of $5 a record despite the amount of rare items he boasts, including original Edison cylinder recordings.
“Every month or so there is somebody who’s interested. But there’s never anybody who’s really interested,” Gershenz says from behind a desk piled with records he’s preparing to ship. “People are biting. But nobody seems to have the money, the place to put them, or knows what in the hell to do with over a quarter million records.”
Gershenz’s struggle to sell is the subject of an upcoming film, “Music Man Murray,” which aired Saturday, national Record Store Day, on the Documentary Channel and NPR's “All Songs Considered.”
Although most octogenarians have long settled into retirement, Gershenz would like to dedicate himself full time to his second career, acting. Having enjoyed bit parts as a character actor in film (“Smashed,” “The Hangover,” “I Love You, Man”) and television (“NCIS: Los Angeles,” “House,” “Parks and Recreation”), he says the burden of the store keeps him from pursuing more auditions.