There’s a new most valuable baseball card of all-time. The T206 ‘Jumbo’ Honus Wagner sold late Saturday night for $3.12 million through Goldin Auctions. The price included a 20% buyer’s premium and broke the record set by the PSA 8 rated Wagner that now sits in the collection of Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick. While under investigation for fraud, former auction house owner Bill Mastro has admitted that card was trimmed before being submitted for grading back in the 1990s. Mastro is now serving a federal prison sentence.
The Jumbo Wagner, graded PSA 5 with a ‘miscut’ qualifier because of its oversized white bottom border, last sold in April 2013 for $2.1 million.
The most money changing hands for a piece of sports memorabilia remains the $4.4 million paid in 2012 for an early Babe Ruth Yankees jersey.
In all, 12 cards in what Goldin billed as the “Great American Trading Card Auction” sold for over $100,000. Eight sold for over $200,000 and five went for $300,000 or more. According to the company, more than 20 new records were set with just 50 lots of trading cards recording $6.7 million in sales.
Maybe the most eye-popping of all was the $312,000 someone spent on a 2003-2004 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection LeBron James (1 of 1) “Ultimate Logos” Autographed Logoman rookie card. Graded PSA 9, the card far surpassed the $200,000 pre-sale estimate. It’s the highest price ever paid for an autographed sports trading card, the most ever paid for a card made after 1980 and the third most ever paid for a basketball card of any kind.
The NBA logo was taken from a jersey James wore as a teenager, posing at the NBA Rookie Photo Shoot. While there are many different James rookie cards, the Ultimate Logos signed card was the only one of its kind created by Upper Deck at a time when it had an NBA trading card license.
“My office is going to be buried in emails and phone calls for the next two weeks with people wanting me to sell their LeBron card,” auctioneer Ken Goldin told ESPN.com.
Another rookie card, from 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite, had the previous record for James rookie cards when collector and California venture capitalist Bill Lee purchased it for $95,000. Lee was among the underbidders for the Ultimate Logos card on Saturday night.
“I’m not surprised at how high this card went,” he told us. “I was the aggressor in bidding all evening but the winner’s final bid was so aggressive that I felt the card was going to go for an incredible amount if I kept bidding. I just got the sense the winning bidder was not going to let go as I was aggressively moving the bidding up by $20,000, $30,000, and finally $50,000 before losing out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the winning bidder would have paid $500,000 for the card.”
While the focus of most catalog auctions continues to be on vintage cards, Lee is bullish on the low-numbered cards of active players.
It was really an exciting night and I believe this auction signals the official beginning of a new era in modern cards. As a venture capitalist, I’m excited to see new trends emerging and I think we are in the early innings for modern cards.”
Other cards sold in the auction included:
“The demand for rare, high-grade vintage cards has exploded so we were confident that there would be some eye-popping results and new record prices established,” said Ken Goldin, Founder of Goldin Auctions. “Every time one of these rare collectibles is offered for auction, serious collectors realize that it may be the last time for a long time. The booming market for high-grade rare trading cards, coupled with the limited supply, created the perfect storm.”
The next Goldin Auctions event, the annual October Legends Auction will begin on October 10. To register, or receive a free catalog or to consign an item for the Goldin Auctions Holiday Auction or the next Great American Trading Card Auction, scheduled for early 2017, visit www.GoldinAuctions.com.