The National is a good place to dig through boxes of cards priced at a buck or two.
It’s also a place where some of the hobby’s biggest annual transactions take place.
During the early stages of the show’s five-day run, an investment fund started by Scott Keeney, aka DJ Skee, with the backing of venture capitalist brothers Carter and Courtney Reum spent $1.05 million to purchase the 1/1 2011 Topps Update Platinum Mike Trout rookie card. The deal was brokered by PWCC Marketplace.
At that valuation, it’s the most expensive Trout rookie card ever sold, and the second most expensive Trout card ever sold, behind only the 2009 Bowman Chrome Superfractor that changed hands for $3.9 million in August 2020. It also is the highest price paid for a post-1960 Topps flagship baseball card.
Mint 10 LLC is an investment fund that invests in sports collectibles and early-stage startup companies in and around the hobby. It’s managed by Warren Laufer, a Wharton business school graduate and former Google employee.
Investors have already committed over $4 million since the fund opened earlier this year. Along with buying individual sports cards, Mint 10 has also backed collectible startups including Whatnot, Loupe, Collectable, Starstock and others). The fund had its first exit in March, when Genamint was acquired by Collectors Universe.
The 1/1 Trout rookie card is the largest investment the group has made to date.
“It’s really easy to throw money at the most expensive cards at the biggest auctions. But we’re using our data and industry experience to locate value for our investors. This was a card we had been looking for because our analysis points to it being undervalued relative to broader trends that we follow,” Skee said. “The 2009 Bowman is a great card, but this is the iconic rookie card with a picture of Trout in his first game back in 2011. We think that, long term, this is going to be the flagship card for a once in a lifetime player.”
The card had been in secure storage in PWCC’s vault before going on display during the National and will now return to Oregon.
“When I got to Wharton in August 2019 and told people I invested in baseball cards, they looked at me like I was crazy,” Laufer stated. “By this year, my classmates that were taking jobs at the biggest banks on Wall Street wanted to talk about it. I think people are seeing the numbers go up while the macro environment is feeling more uncertain. Bigger players and institutional money are starting to get serious about the space, so the head start we have built with Mint 10 is a huge asset.”
DJ Skee had a busy weekend. He also bought the Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 2019 Bowman Chrome Sapphire Superfractor 1/1 in an auction that ended Sunday night.