It wasn’t that long ago that you would have drawn a blank stare when referencing the 1958 Alifabolaget soccer card set. It’s still probably a safe bet to say it’s still a shoulder shrugger for most collectors. After the latest news, though, both the set and soccer cards in general are getting a lot of exposure. The rare European set holds the rookie card of legendary Brazilian star Pele and one of the highest graded examples just sold for $1.33 million, according to fractional shares platform Rally. It’s not only a record price for a Pele card, it’s the first million dollar soccer card ever sold.
As we reported late last week, a private buyer made a $1.1 million offer for the card, which is one of just five graded Mint 9 by PSA (none higher). Shareholders who had bought in then had 48 hours to evaluate the offer and vote on whether to accept.
Then the action heated up.
Another private buyer decided to up the ante and after some discussion, the final offer of $1.3 million was accepted by Rally and a small majority of the card’s shareholders.
This particular card has had quite a ride. It made headlines in the fall of 2020 when it sold at auction through Goldin for $288,000. It then wound up on Rally’s fractional shares market in January of 2021 with a $315,000 valuation on the IPO. Shares were sold for $10 each and the card later began trading on Rally’s open market. In November, a private buyer made an offer of $800,000 but that was rejected by shareholders.
The new $1.33 million purchase price represents a 73.2 percent gain since the last trade on Rally’s shares market and a 322.6% gain from the Jan. ’21 $315,000 initial offering.
Three months ago, Goldin brokered the sale of another PSA 9 copy of the Pele rookie for $900,000. A PSA 8.5 example of the same card sold for $132,000 through Heritage Auctions in December of 2020. Last April, Goldin sold an SGC 7.5 example for $145,200.
In all, PSA has graded only about 50 1958 Alifabolaget Pele rookie cards. He was a 17-year-old phenom who had just starred for Brazil in the World Cup when Alifabolaget, a Swedish trading card maker, included him as part of a 36-card sports set. The card pictures him on the field in uniform at the 1958 World Cup in Stockholm. The back carries text written entirely in Swedish.
There’s also a Brazilian team card in the Alifabolaget set, with Pele pictured.
Pele is the only player to have won three World Cup titles and one of only two players to have scored in four World Cup competitions. He was the star of Brazil’s inaugural World Cup title in ’58, with a hat trick against France in the semifinals and two more goals in a win over the host country in the final.
As an aging but still skilled international superstar, he signed with the New York Cosmos in 1975, helping ignite American interest in the game during his three years in the North American Soccer League.