Some fresh money is helping boost prices for historic sports memorabilia, according to Heritage Auctions.
The company says last week’s auction that closed over a two-night period generated over $11 million in winning bids, some of it spent by new buyers. In all, 17 lots commanded prices in excess of $100,000, led by a $2.58 million result for a 1937 Lou Gehrig Yankees road jersey, the highest price ever achieved at auction for a jersey not worn by Babe Ruth.
“We’ve picked up a good number of high-end collectors in recent months,” noted Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles for Heritage. “The uncertainty in the financial markets is driving corporate money toward the safety of top-tier collectibles, so we’re in the midst of a significant pricing boom here.”
Among the most stunning results of the sale was a $396,000 winning bid for Ty Cobb’s portrait by legendary photographer Carl Horner. The Horner image, which was used for Cobb’s famous T206 portrait cards, more than quadrupled the standing record for an unsigned sports photograph. The record for a Roberto Clemente game used bat was more than doubled on Saturday night, as his 1971 World Series lumber found a new owner at $198,000. Likewise setting a new hobby mark was a $126,000 result for a 2016 New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship ring, by far the highest price ever paid for a ring not related to a major star.
Sports cards also performed well, topped by the 1916 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth rookie card fetching $540,000 after it was consigned by members of a Missouri family who had inherited it with a collection of hundreds of pre-War cards in varying grades.
Heritage says all lots benefitted from significant global press coverage of President Barack Obama’s 1979 Punahou (HI) High School game worn basketball jersey, which drew a winning bid of $120,000, a record for any jersey not worn by a star athlete.