Upper Deck knew it was breaking some ground back in the 1990s when its designers were creating the first cards carrying swatches of a player’s game-worn jersey. Little did they know how much someone might be willing to pay for one of the best ones 24 years later. An autographed 1997 Michael Jordan Upper Deck Game Jerseys card became the most valuable Jordan trading card ever sold at auction early Friday morning, netting over $1.4 million at Heritage Auctions.
Graded PSA 7 with an autograph grade of 8, the card is one of 23 produced by Upper Deck with Jordan’s signature. It represents the first autographed Jordan card featuring a swatch of material from one of his game-worn jerseys—in this case from the 1992 NBA All-Star Game.
The Jordan card was one of the top lots available in the first Heritage Auctions sale devoted solely to modern era cards. In all, the event realized $7.5 million with nearly 1,000 bidders participating from around the world. Of the 437 cards offered, Heritage says nearly all exceeded pre-auction estimates.
“It would be understatement to say we’re ecstatic with the results from our first Modern Sports Card Catalog event,” stated Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions.
Until Friday morning, the most expensive Jordan ever sold at auction was the green-shaded 1997 Michael Jordan Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems offered by Heritage in December. That rarity realized $915,000 just two months ago.
The auction’s second-place finisher was Jordan’s iconic rookie card, the 1986 Fleer graded PSA Gem Mint 10, which realized $645,000, the latest eye-popping sale of the hobby’s hottest trading card. Just nine months ago, Heritage sold a PSA 10 Jordan rookie for $96,000.
Last weekend, Goldin Auctions established the new benchmark for the card and the grade, with two selling for over $700,000 each. A total of 316 Jordan rookies submitted to PSA have been awarded a 10 grade.
The Fleer rookie is now so much in demand that a PSA Mint 9 realized $79,200 in Heritage’s Modern Sports Card Auction, more than twice what a Gem Mint sold for a year ago. And a PSA NM-MT+ 8.5 brought $44,400 by auction’s end.
Other hotly contested cards included a 1997 Metal Universe Jordan Precious Metal Gems, graded BGS NM-MT 8 and a 2003 LeBron Jame Topps Chrome Black Refractor rookie card (#/500) graded 10, each of which went for $480,000.
Pre-auction estimates had become distant memories by the time the last bid was placed long after 2 AM Central time Friday.
The 2019 National Treasures Zion Williamson Emerald-Jersey Autograph, a 3/5 graded BGS Mint 9, sold for $348,000, more than three times what had been expected.
The 1985 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux graded PSA Gem MT 10 more than doubled its pre-auction estimate when it sold for $78,000.
A signed 1992 Little Sun Derek Jeter PSA Gem Mint 10, featuring the baby-faced shortstop then just a high-school prospect, realized $45,600, almost six times its estimate.
And the 1980 Topps Larry Bird/Julius Erving/Magic Johnson card graded PSA Mint 9 brought $75,000, five times more than expected.
For a complete list of results from The Modern Sports Card Catalog Auction, click here.