Kobe Bryant’s name was everywhere at last weekend’s NBA All-Star Game. For one collector with deep pockets, the buzz started a little early.
The unnamed buyer purchased what’s now the most expensive Bryant card in existence, forking over $2 million for one of the ten Emerald versions of Bryant’s 1996-97 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems card.
The rare insert card graded 8.5 (NM/MT+) by Beckett changed hands in a private sale, according to PWCC Marketplace, which brokered the deal.
The Precious Metal Gems cards produced by Metal Universe were limited to 100 copies, with 90 featuring a Ruby (red) background accompanying the ten green colored versions. The checklist featured stars of the era and the cards are among the most popular and sought in the modern basketball market. High-grade copies are difficult to find because of the foil stock that’s prone to chipping.
“This is arguably Kobe’s best card in existence,” said Jesse Craig, Director of Business Development at PWCC. “It’s more desirable than even a Kobe Bryant rookie card or a Kobe Bryant autograph. The grade on this is also the highest that exists, with only one other BGS 8.5 in the world.
“These set the tone for the insert market going forward. It’s just incredibly difficult to find them in any condition, and because of their delicate nature, to find one in such good condition is incredibly rare.”
In March of last year, Goldin Auctions sold a BGS 10 Black Lebel 1996-97 Topps Chrome Bryant rookie card for over $1.7 million.
An 18-time All-Star, five-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star game MVP, the late Lakers superstar is one of the most avidly collected athletes in the modern card hobby.
“The buyer here collects only the best players, and this price is driven both by the quality of card and by the reverence for Kobe Bryant,” Craig said.