After a bidding slugfest that lasted into Sunday morning, the earliest known Babe Ruth Yankees jersey has sold for $4,415,658 in SCP Auctions' latest catalog sale. The price includes a 20% buyer's premium tacked on to the final, winning bid that came from Leland's, another well established auction house. The winning bidder's name hasn't been revealed but auction houses often bid on items on behalf of wealthy or celebrity type clients.
"Such a spectacular piece will find a home with one of our private clients who truly appreciates its historic significance,” Lelands said in a statement released Sunday afternoon.
The circa 1920 Ruth jersey broke multiple sports memorabilia records, including the new record for an sports memorabilia item, surpassing previous record of $4,338,500 set in 2010 by James Naismith’s founding rules of basketball; most expensive baseball memorabilia ever sold; most expensive Ruth item ever sold; and most expensive game-worn jersey in the history of sports collectibles.
The jersey had been displayed inside the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum from 2004-2009, on loan from the unidentified collector who owned it. The unrestored road flannel appears to be in remarkably good shape for being more than 90 years old. It has Ruth's stitched name inside the collar and was authenticated by MEARS.
Bidding opened April 30 at $250,000 and within a matter of hours, it had attracted several offers, pushing it past the half million dollar mark. From there, it climbed steadily, passing $2 million on Friday.
The auction included several other historic pieces, including a cap worn by Ruth in the 1930s (and later by Yankee David Wells, a collector himself who consigned it), which sold for $537,278, a 1927-28 era Ruth bat ($591,007), 1968 Mickey Mantle game worn jersey ($366,967), a 1931 Lou Gehrig home jersey (275,706), Lawrence Taylor's Super Bowl XXV ring ($230,401) and Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" cap from his 1951 playoff-winning homer ($173,102).
The auction closed over two days, beginning with the Dmitri Young collection of PSA 10 rookie cards that brought a total of more than $2.4 million early Saturday morning, setting numerous records for sales of individual vintage baseball cards.
The total auction proceeds were $12,271,126.
Complete auction results are at SCPAuctions.com.
You can see more Babe Ruth items currently up for bid/sale in the open market here.