The $12.6 million sale of that 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card snared all of the headlines, but the auction that carried it had a lot more than that and when it was over, the two night closing tally was a whopping $39.1 million…and change.
Heritage Auctions says more than 40 record were set, including most expensive baseball bat, most valuable Super Bowl ring, most expensive sports photo and the highest priced Japanese baseball card.
In all, 45 lots sold for six or seven-figure prices. Nearly 2,800 bidders participated in the auction, which opened earlier this month and closed over two sessions on Saturday and Sunday nights.
“The eyes of the collecting world were focused on this historic auction, and we’re pleased to report that the sports collectibles market continues on its bullish run,” says Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “Whether it was for cards, bats, photographs or championship rings, we saw strong participation from both hobby veterans and newcomers alike, all battling to give these treasures new homes in collections all over the world.”
As some bidders vied for the SGC Mint+ 9.5 example of Mantle’s Topps debut, others turned their attention to the PSA NM+ 7.5 that was offered in the auction and wound up selling for $705,000, making it the most valuable example for that grade.
Among the other highlights:
Babe Ruth’s game-used and signed bat, which dates from 1918 to 1922, sold for $1.68 million to become the most valuable game-used bat ever sold at auction. A Ruth card likewise set a new record, when a 1948 Leaf Babe Ruth graded PSA Mint 9 realized $540,000, the most ever paid for that example.
Other legendary lumber likewise stacked up new records: A 1905-10 “Wee Willie” Keeler game-used, side-written and vault-marked bat, graded PSA/DNA GU 9.5, realized $252,000, the most ever paid for one of the Hall of Famer’s bats. New records were set, too, for bats used by Jim Thorpe ($90,000), Yogi Berra (whose 1960 All-Star Game-used and signed bat sold for $72,000) and Roy Campanella ($60,000).
A 1979-80 Topps Wayne Gretzky rookie card graded Gem Mint 10 sold for $1.2 million to become the first of its kind to crack the million dollar mark. The only other known PSA 10 example of Gretzky’s American-card debut sold in 2020 for $720,000. After this weekend Heritage now holds the records for both Gretzky’s Topps and O-Pee-Chee (at $3.75 million) rookie cards.
An original photograph of Ty Cobb taken around 1910-12 that wound up being used for his 1914-15 Cracker Jack card sold for $516,000, surpassing the sports photo record set in April 2019, when Heritage sold the image you’ll find on Cobb’s T206 card for $396,000.
There were multiple early Super Bowl rings in the catalog with the 1970 Baltimore Colts Super Bowl V ring presented to head coach Don McCafferty setting a new standard for NFL championship jewelry at $300,000.
That eclipses the previous high reached in 2012, when New York Giant Lawrence Taylor’s ring awarded for Super Bowl XXV sold for $230,000. Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson’s rings from Super Bowls I and II each realized $174,000.
Another big number came with the sale of an autographed 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie card for $144,000, the most ever paid for a card autographed by the only man to ever score 100 points in an NBA game.
Soccer scored, too, in the auction: A 2018 Panini Prizm World Cup Soccer Kylian Mbappé (Gold Prizm), graded PSA Gem Mint 10 and numbered 3/10, sold for $216,000. That shatters this card’s previous record of $121,000, and is a record for any card featuring the French footballer.
A 1949 Bowman Satchel Paige card from the Hall of Fame pitcher’s Major League debut, graded PSA Mint 9, sold for $228,000, a record for the first Bowman card of the Negro Leagues legend.
A 1959 Marumatsu Scoreboard rookie card of Yomiuri Giants legend Sadaharu Oh graded PSA Mint 9 sold for $72,000, making it the most expensive Japanese baseball card of all time.
Click here for complete results from Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction.