The original painting used to create Willie Mays’ 1953 Topps baseball card turned out to be the biggest draw in Lelands’ Summer Classic Auction. The 3 1/2 x 5″ painting commissioned by Topps early in Mays’ career sold for $246,968.
Originally sold in 1989 at the Topps Archives auction by Marriott for $88,000 ($210,000 in today’s dollars). Marriott used the art for promotional purposes and also created a limited-edition print, which was subsequently sold and marketed as a fundraiser.
In 1991 Marriott donated the piece to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals where it has remained ever since. It was consigned directly to Lelands by the hospital group, which will use the money to aid its causes.
1953 was the only year during that decade that Topps relied on paintings rather than photography for its card design.
The artwork (3.5×5″) has name written twice on the reverse, along with his team affiliation (“N.Y.”) and an editorial notation. The identity of the artist has been lost to time.
The lot also included a lower grade copy of the 1953 Mays card.
Other vintage baseball cards and memorabilia sold included:
- Autographed 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA Authentic grade) $165,479
- “Wahoo” Sam Crawford side-written game bat from the 1920s $73,797
- 1936 New York Yankees Team Signed Baseball w/Gehrig & DiMaggio (JSA) $65,394
- 1968 Topps Baseball 3-D Test Issue Roberto Clemente PSA NM-MT 8 $50,415
The 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan #101 BGS 8.5 (pop 252) sold for $87,480, a record for the grade. Prices on Jordan Star cards have been climbing. One sold a year ago for $35,000.
The ball tossed by Tom Brady for his final touchdown pass of the 2021 season, one that would have stood as the last one of his career had he not changed his mind about retiring, sold for a surprising $129,657.
Complete results can be found here.