One captured the world of sport in bold bursts of impressionistic color and the other with the unflinching precision of a camera lens, but both LeRoy Neiman and Ernie Schworck exhibited the strength of their enduring legacies in the Heritage Auction’s $7.44+ million May 15-17, 2014 Sports Collectibles Signature Auction, which wrapped up late last week.
“Neiman created more than 120 original artworks on baseballs for his good friend Charlie McCabe,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “This consignment represented the largest single offering of Neiman artworks ever presented at auction and prices were extremely strong across the board.”
The collection narrowly missed the $500,000 total mark, far outpacing pre-auction estimates. Neiman’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe ended with a $95,600 final price realized.
United Press International photographer Ernie Schworck captured many of the greatest post-war sporting events in his home state of California, pressing game used baseballs into service as living captions for photographs of Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and others to commemorate no-hitters, strikeout records and other milestones. These hand notated baseballs, held in Schworck’s photos by joyous athletes, tripled pre-auction estimates, with 26 lots tallying bids in excess of $233,000. Top honors went to a ball used in Koufax’ second no-hitter, which sold for $83,650.
The biggest Koufax fireworks, however, were reserved for a jersey worn during the Hall of Fame southpaw’s third and final Cy Young campaign, which sold for $262,900. Card collectors likewise showed their love for the Dodgers superstar, breaking the former record for a Mint 9 representation of his 1955 Topps rookie with a $44,813 realized price.
Matching the price for Koufax’ jersey was the Gold Medal presented to 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey player Mark Pavelich, the $262,900 result among the highest figures ever paid for an Olympic medal.
Collectors of high level modern era rookie cards watched the sale of a PSA 10 1975 Topps George Brett reach $20,315.
The basketball market continues to be red-hot, according to Heritage which says it sold a pair of Michael Jordan “Dream Team” game worn sneakers for $23,900 and Ernie DiGregorio’s 1973-74 Rookie of the Year trophy for $26,290.