A T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $ 6.606 million, including a 20% buyer’s premium, early Monday morning, breaking the record for the most expensive sports card of all time.
The previous record belonged to a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card that sold for $ 5.2 million in January, a record later equaled by a 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection rookie jersey card autographed by LeBron James in April.
The seller of the Wagner card is an “East Coast collector.” Both the seller and the buyer prefer to remain anonymous.
“This Wagner stands out for his condition,” said Brian Dwyer, president of Robert Edward Auctions, which brokered the deal. “There are only about 60 of these that we can confirm through various population reports and rating data available. Of those 60, most are rated as bad, authentic, or good at best. This card is one. one of the best examples out there, and it certainly is one of the best examples available. “
This Wagner card received a 3 rating from Sportscard Guaranty Corp. (SGC). Based on population reports from the three largest card grading companies – Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), Beckett Grading Services (BGS) and SGC – only four Wagner T206s have scored above 3, combined, all in private collections.
The card was on display at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, Illinois, in July. Close to 100,000 people attended the conference, the second-highest attendance in its history, with 46.4% of attendees reported as first-timers.
Aside from the T206 set being printed from 1909 to 1911, there is a divisive tradition behind the early discontinuation of Wagner card production, another reason why so few exist.
“Did he not get enough money from the American Tobacco Co. or did he want to be associated with cigarettes?” Dwyer raised the hypothesis with ESPN. “These are theories that [lo han hecho] noteworthy for over a century. “
Wagner was one of the pioneers of endorsements, lending his name to Louisville Slugger as the first professional athlete to receive endorsement money. He also sold gum, soda, gunpowder, razors and lent his image to cigar bands, only strengthening Wagner’s claim as a pioneer of NIL rights a century ago.
Dwyer also noted that it doesn’t hurt the Wagner, since 1939, when Jefferson Burdick valued the Wagner at $ 50 in his “Catalog of American Card Collectors”, later known as “The American Card Catalog”, has long been the pièce de resistance of the card industry.
“We’re going back 80 years, people knew it was valuable,” Dwyer told ESPN.
“In 1973, this Wagner was the first Wagner card to be sold at a public auction,” said Andrew Aronstein, son of Mike Aronstein, a late-20th-century card industry pioneer who originally found the card that year. “My dad was aware of what was about to happen in the hobby, but I don’t think he imagined the card would sell for $ 6 million.”
Fred McKie, a friend of old Aronstein, has also been impressed by the transformation of the industry in which he grew up.
“In [los primeros días], the card conventions were just collectors who had tables, nobody left the street, “McKie told ESPN.” There were no guests with autographs, we all had our own area, we traded and bought things from one place to another. “
At one of those Detroit conventions, Mike Aronstein found a coup for McKie: a Wagner T206 up for auction.
“I had just received my tax refund and sold my entire table,” McKie recalls. “I won it that night.”
McKie paid $ 1,100 for the Wagner T206 in 1973. In 1976, he sold it for $ 2,500. Early Monday morning, McKie watched as the rare card he once owned took the record.
“I knew the exact card sold for $ 1.2 million in 2012,” McKie told ESPN. “Every time he goes, he goes for more and more.
“As much as I would like to have the card back, there are good and bad things. You have mixed emotions.”
McKie started a shoe store with the money from the sale of his Wagner and other cards from that era. He says he’s grateful that the money helped him start a business, which provided him with multiple locations, and he was able to retire at age 55.
“I had it at one point, [fui] part of their history, “McKie said.