“…in the beginning there was Gauntlet.”
posted to the rec.arts.bodyart Usenet newsgroup
June 16, 1998

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Running the Gauntlet—NOW AVAILABLE!

Jim Ward's much anticipated book Running the Gauntlet—An Intimate History of the Modern Body Piercing Movement is now available from the author. Begun as a series of articles written for BMEzine.com between 2003 and 2005 (see them here), the book tells the detailed story of how Jim discovered his own fascination with body piercing and went on to found the industry. Visit runningthegauntlet-book.com to order your copy.

Gauntlet Returns to Its Founder

Perhaps no business name is as synonymous with body piercing as that of Gauntlet. For nearly 25 years it defined the industry. Jim Ward formed the company in 1975 giving it the name “Gauntlet Enterprises.” It later became “Gauntlet, Inc.”

When mismanagement and deceit on the part of trusted key employees brought the company into Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1998, an ailing Jim Ward watched helplessly as his life’s work was seized by the bankruptcy court. The business and its assets were to be liquidated to pay creditors.

The inventory, furniture, and equipment were sold. But Efforts by the bankruptcy court trustee to liquidate the company’s name, trademarks, and intellectual property failed, perhaps because her financial expectations were too high. The estate languished for nearly six years.

“My greatest fear,” said Jim, “was that it would fall into the hands of someone who would not appreciate its historical significance. I only hoped that it would go to someone who would cherish and protect it and somehow make it available as a resource to the piercing community.”

In June of this year the trustee finally took serious steps to rid herself of the property, by putting it up for auction on eBay. On June 26 an individual who has asked to remain anonymous stepped forward and placed the winning bid of $6,623.32, in the last five seconds of the auction.

In an email to friends prior to the auction, the winning bidder had this to say. “It brings a tear to my eye every time I think about what has happened over the years. Jim has done so much for me and others that words could never be put forth in this format…. Now it’s time to give him something.”

Drew & Jim Ward

On July 20, 2004 the estate was finally turned over to the winning bidder who drove it to Jim and Drew Ward’s residence in Berkeley, California. The winning bidder sold it to Drew Ward’s corporation, re:Ward, Inc. for the sum of $1.00. They will be doing business as Gauntlet Enterprises, the original name of the business when it was founded in 1975.

“I am overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and outpouring of support.” Jim said. “I never expected the estate to be ours again.”

Many people in the piercing world fail to realize that without Jim body piercing would not be what it is today. He sowed the seeds that have produced an abundant harvest which is being reaped by piercers worldwide. Since Gauntlet's bankruptcy, he has enjoyed none of the fruit of his labors. Had it been possible for him to patent, copyright, or otherwise protect his innovations and contributions to the piercing industry, the royalties would have made him a rich man today. But that is not the case. Gauntlet's bankruptcy all but ruined Jim and Drew financially. They experienced what it is like to lose everything.

Fortunately Jim's health is better, and with the recovery of the intellectual property, he and Drew now have the opportunity to start again. A number of people in the piercing industry who are close to them have formed an advisory committee to help them decide how best to make the historical material available to the community, to generate much needed income for the Wards, and how to capitalize the endeavor.