The record it broke was only set a few months ago.
NEW YORK – A mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $12.6 million on Sunday, landing in the record books as the highest-selling sports memorabilia in a market that has grown exponentially in recent years.
The rare Mantle card eclipsed the record set just a few months ago – $9.3 million for the jersey Diego Maradona wore when he scored the controversial “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup.
It easily surpassed the $7.25 million for a century-old Honus Wagner baseball card sold in a recent private sale.
And just last month, the heavy boxing belt that Muhammad Ali reclaimed during 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle” sold for nearly $6.2 million.
All are part of a booming market for sports collectibles.
Prices have risen not only for the rarest pieces, but also for pieces that may have been gathering dust in garages and attics. Many of these items make it onto consumer auction sites like eBay, while others are put up for bid by auction houses.
Because of its near-perfect condition and iconic theme, the Mantle map was destined to be a bestseller, said Chris Ivy, head of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, which led the bid.
Some saw collectibles as a hedge against inflation in recent years, he said, while others reignited childhood passions.
Ivy said savvy investors saw inflation coming — as it did. As a result, sports memorabilia has become an alternative to traditional Wall Street investments or real estate — particularly among Gen Xers and older millennials.
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“There’s only so many Netflix and Tiger King people that could watch it (during the pandemic). You know, they got back into their hobbies, and collecting sports was definitely one of them,” said Ivy, noting an increase in calls from potential sellers.
Add in the interest of wealthy foreign collectors and there’s a confluence of factors that have made sports collectibles particularly attractive, Ivy said.
“We kind of started to see some growth and price increases, which led to some media coverage. And I think it all sort of built on itself,” he said. “I would say the onset of the pandemic has really added fuel to this fire.”
Before the pandemic, the sports memorabilia market was valued at more than $5.4 billion, according to a 2018 Forbes interview with Collectable.com founder David Yoken.
By 2021, that market had grown to $26 billion, according to research firm Market Decipher, which predicts the market will grow astronomically to $227 billion within a decade – fueled in part by the rise of so-called NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. which are digital collectibles with unique data-encrypted fingerprints.
Sports cards were in particular demand as people were spending more time at home and there was an opportunity to rummage through potential treasure troves of childhood memories, including old comics and small stacks of gum cards featuring famous sports stars.
The lure of making money from something that could be in the basement of one’s childhood was irresistible, according to Stephen Fishler, founder of ComicConnect, who has observed the growing rise — and profitability — of collectibles sold at auction houses.
“In short, the world of modern sports cards has gone insane,” he said.
Dating to 1952, the Mantle baseball card is widely considered to be one of the few baseball legends in near-perfect condition.
The auction brought in a handsome profit for Anthony Giordano, a New Jersey garbage disposal contractor, who bought it at a New York City fair in 1991 for $50,000.
The switch-hitting Mantle was a 1956 Triple Crown winner, three-time American League MVP, and a seven-time World Series champion. The Hall of Famer died in 1995.
“Some people might say it’s just a baseball card. Who cares? It’s just a Picasso. For others, it’s just a Rembrandt. It’s an art for some people,” said John Holden, a professor of sports management law at Oklahoma State and an amateur sports card collector.
As with works of art with no intrinsic value, he said, the value of sports tickets is in the eye of the beholder — or in the wallet of the prospective bidder.
“Value,” Holden said, “is what the market is willing to support.”
https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/mickey-mantle-card-breaks-record/507-29448c6d-f4c4-43e6-8a0c-40ec2a28cf98 Mickey Mantle baseball card beats sports auction record