Published: January 18, 2021
TIGARD, ORE. – On Thursday, January 14, PWCC Marketplace reported brokering the private sale of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card with a Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) grade of 9 for $5.2 million. The buyer was actor and entrepreneur Rob Gough, who considers the 1952 card to be the “Mona Lisa of sports cards;” he has fulfilled a lifelong dream to own the iconic card. The Mickey Mantle joins other cards Gough has recently acquired, including a 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth rookie, a 1917 Collins-McCarthy Joe Jackson and several PSA 10 Michael Jordan rookie cards.
The Mantle card is one of six of its kind to receive a grade of 9 out of 10 by PSA, one of the foremost sports memorabilia authenticators in the world. “Based on our research, this is the nicest looking 1952 Topps Mantle PSA 9 in existence,” Jesse Craig, director of Business Development at PWCC Marketplace said in a media statement.
There are reported to be only three Mickey Mantle 1952 trading cards with a grade of 10, the highest grade a card can receive. These are all valued at more than $10 million each.
The card had previously been owned by former NFL player Evan Mathis, who sold the card for $2.88 million at Heritage Auctions on April 19, 2018, a price that earned it the distinction of the second highest price for a trading card after the $3.12 million paid for a T206 Honus Wagner PSA 5 in 2016.
PWCC could not disclose who had owned the card between Mathis and Gough but apparently Gough made an offer they would not refuse. Additional details of the deal were not forthcoming.
The new $5.2 million record is the highest private sale price ever reported for a trading card.
The current auction record price stands with a Topps 2009 Bowman Chrome Superfractor Mike Trout rookie card, with a Beckett grade of 9.5, which brought $3.93 million at Goldin Auctions in August, 2020.
The trading card market has arguably never been hotter, with several auction records established in 2020, even in sports outside of baseball. Among these are a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card graded PSA Gem Mint 10 that brought $1.29 million when Heritage Auctions sold it in December. Setting a record for a basketball trading card was a 2013-14 National Treasures Horizontal (RPA) #130 Giannis Antetokounmpo signed NBA Logoman Patch rookie card with a grade of BGS mint 9/BGS 10 that brought $1.85 million at Goldin Auctions in September.
PWCC marketing director Chris Callahan attributed several factors to the strength of the market, which he says has been growing in terms of both participants and the number of items coming up for sale. The field has added several high-profile collectors, such as celebrities and athletes, who have made investing in trading cards increasingly mainstream. The graphic nature of trading cards is well-suited to social media and the category has a broad appeal not just to sports fans but fantasy sports players, investors and gamblers. But the pandemic has proved to be, in Callahan’s words, the sparkplug for the industry. “When people are stuck at home and going through the old cards they find, they’re looking up cards and seeing that there’s some real value.” It is a trend he sees no sign of reversing.
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