One of only two 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite LeBron James Rookie Patch Autograph parallel cards graded 9.5 by BGS sold for over $1.8 million Saturday night, becoming the most valuable basketball card ever sold and the priciest modern era trading card of any kind.
Numbered 14 of 23, the card attracted 34 bids over the course of the 26-day sale conducted by Goldin Auctions. Earlier this year, the company sold a 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Red Refractor Autograph card for $922,500, which had set the modern trading card record. Founder Ken Goldin had predicted the LeBron card would bring a seven-figure price. The other BGS Gem Mint example is in private hands.
Produced during Upper Deck’s time as a licensed NBA trading card maker, the Rookie Patch Autographs were typically numbered to 99 but the checklist also included a parallel set produced in quantities that matched the player’s jersey number: 23 in James’ case.
According to sports business reporter Darren Rovell, the winning bidder was Leore Avidar, the young CEO and Co-Founder of Lob.com, a San Francisco-based company which automates direct mail for businesses.
The basketball card market continues to explode, thanks to interest beyond North America. LeBron James rookie cards continue to be among the hottest.
On Saturday, another Trout card fetched a big price when the lone PSA 10 copy of the 2009 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor Auto (# to 25) rocketed to $336,000.
In all, seven modern era cards in the auction cracked the six-figure mark, showing the growing interest in high-end modern cards. A 2004-05 Exquisite Patch James auto graded BGS 85. netted $246,000 while a Michael Jordan autograph card from the same product and bearing the same grade sold for $184,500. The 1/1 Aaron Judge 2013 Bowman Draft Superfractor graded BGS 9.5 closed at $161,130.
A 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie card graded PSA 10 sold for $81,180–the same price paid for a PSA 10 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant rookie card. A full box of 1986-87 Fleer packs, likely holding three or four Jordan rookie cards reached $105,780.
Not every card that brought big bucks was from the current era, though. One of three autographed 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards ever to be awarded a PSA/DNA 10 grade reached $136,530, the highest price ever paid for a signed copy of one of the hobby’s most recognizable cards.
Among the memorabilia sold was a pair of Jordan’s game-worn Nike Air Jordan 1s that ended at $369,000 and one of Jordan’s game-worn 1997 Eastern Conference Finals jerseys, which netted $295,200.
The entire auction generated $11.3 million.
The auction server was hit by a cyberattack near the close of extended bidding but after a short pause, bidding was able to resume with the sale extended by 15 minutes.
All prices include a 23 percent buyer’s premium.
You can check out the most watched see the current list of overall ‘most watched’ basketball card auctions on eBay here.