Shawn Chaulk has spent nearly two decades building an impressive collection of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia that included everything from the Great One’s socks to the jersey he wore during the 1987 Stanley Cup finals.

But the time had come to part with the valuable items and the Alberta collector decided to put them up for auction. The first phase of the sell-off netted him just under $550,000 by early Wednesday morning.

Although he has jokingly said that his collecting hobby is “not unlike crack,” Chaulk has no qualms about Gretzky’s hockey sticks, helmets, milestone pucks and jerseys ending up in other collectors’ display cabinets.

“I’ve had an absolute blast putting this together,” Chaulk told CTV’s Canada AM Wednesday.

He said the collection has allowed him to meet with Gretzky “a whole bunch of times” and encounter “amazing” people in the hockey world. 

“I have those memories, I experienced all those things and that stuff can’t be put on the auction block. My memories I’ll always have,” he said.

The Edmonton Oilers jersey Gretzky wore at the Stanley Cup final, where he scored his 500th goal, drew the highest bid and sold for $356,000.

Chaulk also auctioned off the skates Gretzky wore during that game, among other items.

He said he’d considered setting up his own Gretzky memorabilia museum, but as a father of three young children, he couldn’t devote the time or energy to such a project.

Chaulk was also haunted by thoughts of losing the entire collection in a flood or a fire. He eventually decided to auction it off in several phases.

The money he makes could be used for “a lot of fun things,” but a college fund for his kids tops the list.

Chaulk said his collecting days are not over. Although items tied to Gretzky were his main focus for years, he also has a Glenn Anderson collection and others that he says are more personal.