Published: April 13, 2021
MATAWAN, N.J. – The “Holy Grail” of Tom Brady rookie cards sold on April 2 for a world record $2,252,854 in the Lelands 2021 Spring Classic Auction, marking the most ever paid for a football card.
The 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket #144 Tom Brady Rookie Autograph card was graded 8.5 with an autograph grade of nine. It had been purchased on eBay more than a decade ago and had been tucked away in a private collection since then. It opened at $75,000 and was pushed to its final price by 67 bids.
“Tom Brady continues to shatter records both on and off the football field,” said Lelands president Mike Heffner. “The GOAT, Brady now holds the distinction of having the most expensive football card ever sold. His signed Championship Rookie Ticket auto is the penultimate Brady rookie card and one for the ages.” GOAT is a common reference to Brady that stands for “greatest of all time.”
Brady began his professional football career with the New England Patriots, where he won six Super Bowls. He continued his winning ways after parting from the Patriots in 2020 and joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He earned his seventh Super Bowl win when the Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this year.
The $2,252,854 price tag shatters the previous record for a football card – another Brady rookie card, which sold in March for $1.32 million.
Additional auction highlights include a Zion Williamson rookie RPA, which sold for $269,549. It was the first Zion Williamson 2019 National Treasures Gold RPA ever offered in a public auction, numbered 2/10 and “hobby fresh,” that is, the consignor pulled it himself and had Lelands submit it to the Beckett grading service.
In the hockey realm, a PSA 9 Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee Rookie fetched $259,501. Catalog notes stating that this example is infinitely more difficult to find in any grade than its Topps counterpart, continued, “The iconic card of ‘The Great One’ is perhaps the most important card in the hockey hobby as Gretzky reshaped the league with his pinpoint passing, scoring and on-ice vision.”
Four-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, four-time MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP LeBron James featured in a 2003 LeBron James Ultimate Collection autographed rookie card that achieved $211,199, and a LeBron James 2019 Logoman 1/1 brought $191,563.
Baseball memorabilia collectors vied for a 1948 Babe Ruth single-signed baseball, which went out at $104,813. The Bambino’s autograph in blue ink graces the sweet spot of the Official American League (Harridge) ball. Having succumbed to cancer in 1948, Ruth’s signature is literally from the last months of his extraordinary life.
Additional highlights included a Bear Bryant personally owned and worn houndstooth hat rising to $33,744, Steelers Jack Lambert’s fake teeth holder for $19,914 and a George Washington lock of hair commanding $39,922.
Last month, Lelands, noting the demand for sports cards and memorabilia rising at record levels, announced that it is increasing the number of auctions on its schedule and will have a Classic auction every other month. While some auction houses recently moved to back-to-back monthly auctions, Lelands said it is the first to say it will leave time between auctions to do promotion. Lelands president Michael Heffner explained, “While we know that this new rush to do more auctions is good for auction houses, we’re not sure it’s always in the best interests of the consignors.”
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. For information, www.lelands.com or 732-290-8000.
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