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Can't Find an LP Anywhere?

August 12, 2014

Zero Freitas with a tiny portion of his collection Photo by Sebastián Liste/NoorBlame Zero Freitas. The improbable story of the man buying up all the world's vinyl records is reported in The New York Times: The wealthy Brazilian businessman, motivated only by an uncontrollable hording obsession, has been buying up secretly (until now) LPs by the truckload.

The estimate for the contents of his 25,000-square-foot warehouse in São Paulo is "several million" LPs. Although it's almost like a sidebar, the business of cataloging the hoard is fascinating:

Recently, Freitas hired a dozen college interns to help him bring some logic to his obsession. In the warehouse office, seven of them were busy at individual workstations; one reached into a crate of LPs marked “PW #1,425” and fished out a record. She removed the disc from its sleeve and cleaned the vinyl with a soft cloth before handing the album to the young man next to her. He ducked into a black-curtained booth and snapped a picture of the cover.

Eventually the record made its way through the assembly line of interns, and its information was logged into a computer database. An intern typed the name of the artist (the Animals), the title (Animalism), year of release (1966), record label (MGM) and — referencing the tag on the crate the record was pulled from — noted that it once belonged to Paulette Weiss, a New York music critic whose collection of 4,000 albums Freitas recently purchased.

The interns can collectively catalog about 500 records per day — a Sisyphean rate, as it happens, because Freitas has been burying them with new acquisitions. Between June and November of last year, more than a dozen 40-foot-long shipping containers arrived, each holding more than 100,000 newly purchased records.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].