One night. One boatload of money spent on sports cards.
A pair of Michael Jordan rookie cards sold for $738,000 each in Goldin Auctions’ Elite catalog sale late Saturday night, blowing past any previously established norms, and they weren’t even the highest selling items. In all, the auction netted over $30 million, a record for a single sports memorabilia auction. Over 30 lots sold for more than $200,000.
A second auction, held Sunday night, generated over $3 million more.
The highest price went to one of 35 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle cards graded PSA 8, which set a new high bar for the grade at over $1.6 million.
However, it was the Jordan rookie cards that wrote the latest chapter in the hobby’s unprecedented boom. Less than two months ago, the record price for Jordan’s 1986-87 Fleer card in a PSA 10 grade was $150,000. Shockingly, Saturday night’s auction made that look like nothing short of a steal. Demand from overseas buyers, investors and celebrities looking to buy into the alternative asset class sports cards have become has driven the card market– especially for well-known basketball players–to heights no one could have imagined even a year ago.
There are 316 PSA 10 Jordan rookies in all. With recent selling prices for PSA 9 examples, the market cap for Mint and Gem Mint Jordan’s from PSA’s population report alone stands at roughly $400 million. That doesn’t even include similar high-grade examples rated by SGC or BGS. There are a few 10s you can own on eBay right now–at $875,000 and up and several 9s up for auction as well.
The prices for Jordan rookie cards–and ’86-87 Fleer in general–are pushing prices for the surviving unopened boxes to new heights. Goldin sold one 36-pack box for over $370,000, more than double what the top price had been late last summer.
A new record was hammered down for a rare 1925 Lou Gehrig Exhibit rookie card. Rated PSA 6 with an MK designation for writing on the back, the one offered by Goldin is headed to a new home for just over $800,000, the most ever paid for any Gehrig trading card.
High-end and low production modern cards continue to draw crowds of new buyers with money. The 1/1 2012-13 Panini National Treasures Anthony Davis NBA Logoman Rookie Patch Autograph (BGS 9/10) sold for just over $1 million–joining a small but growing club of modern era cards to top seven figures.
Among the other big sellers: a 2009/10 Panini National Treasures “Century Platinum” #206 Steph Curry Rookie Patch Autograph (#3/5) graded BGS 9.5/10 that netted $984,000. Two other high-end Curry cards blew past $400,000.
A 2018 Panini Prizm Gold Prizm #280 Luka Doncic rookie card (#03/10) graded PSA GEM MT 10 went for nearly $800,000.
A 2017 Panini National Treasures Black #161 Patrick Mahomes RPA (#1/5) graded BGS MINT 9/10 rocketed to $861,000, not just the highest amount ever paid for a Mahomes item of any kind but the most ever paid for a football card.
“I’ve been collecting cards and memorabilia for my whole life and I’ve never seen as much interest in the hobby. Long-time collectors have seen the value of their items soar and new collectors have rushed in because they view the hobby as not only fun but also a valuable investment,” said Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions.
While most of what was sold was sports-related, a complete 1st edition 1999 Pokemon set, with each card graded PSA 10 sold for $682,650–a record for any Pokémon related item.
Among the memorabilia sold was the jersey Jordan wore in his final NBA game in April 2003. Photo-matched to multiple games as he closed out his career with the Washington Wizards, the jersey sold for $584,250.
The auction results include Goldin’s stated 23 percent buyer’s premium, but prices will be cut by three percent if bidders pay within ten days and don’t use a credit card.