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Auction Action: Heritage Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction Review

Auction Action: Heritage Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction Review
March 2, 2022
Bradley Calleja

In what has become tradition during the final week of February, Heritage Auction closed their Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction. So what were the records that fell and how did this event compare to past results?

The Records

For the third time in less than five years, Heritage sold the jersey Mickey Mantle was wearing when he hit his 535th home run. The difference this time though, is that new prominence was discovered and the jersey is now known to be the last Yankees jersey ever worn by Mr. Mantle.

Now armed with newfound history, the price soared, reaching a multi-million valuation less than an hour into extended bidding. When the hammer finally dropped, the jersey had struck a final price of $2,190,000. This sale marked the highest ever recorded for Mantle-threads and a 157% increase in price from 2020. 

Tickets were the talk of the town this weekend at Heritage as the record-book was completely rewritten. In what became a heated price battle, the 1947 Jackie Robinson Debut Stub closed with a final price of $480,000, establishing a new record for the asset class.

Closing in second was a full ticket from Michael Jordan’s NBA Debut which closed at $468,000. For reference, last year at this Heritage auction, no ticket sold for more than $50,000 and total ticket sales closed under $100,000. This year, ticket sales exceeded $1 million and there were eight tickets that sold for more than $49,000.

The Serena Williams market continued to climb as a new record for any Williams card was set at Heritage. After sales at Goldin and PWCC had pushed female sports cards over $100,000, the stage was set for this PSA 7 graded NetPro.

The new ceiling for Serena rookies is now $163,2000 which is more than three times the highest price this time last This marked the first six-figure sale for a female sports card at Heritage and this was the first Heritage auction to sell standalone Serena rookie cards.

Although his debut ticket fell short of the record, Michael Jordan received plenty of love at Platinum Night with two new records established for MJ memorabilia. The earliest photo matched pair of Air Jordan 1’s sold for $675,000 which set a new record for any game worn Air Jordans.

In true G.O.A.T fashion, MJ records were not just limited to the hardwood though. Heritage sold a photo matched Michael Jordan Birmingham Barons jersey for $204,000, which is a record for any piece of Jordan baseball memorabilia. 

Speaking of baseball, the Heritage auction also set a record for the most expensive piece of game-used Ted Williams memorabilia with a $336,000 sale of a bat used during his 1947 Triple Crown Season.

The event also delivered a record price for a Shadaharu Oh rookie card, as a 1959 Hoshi Gangu Oh Rookie with a gold border sold for $52,000.

The record was not just the highest realized price for an Oh card, but also the most expensive Japanese card ever sold.

Of course, we cannot forget about football. Heritage set a record for the most expensive sealed football wax with a $186,000 hammer price for a box of 1956 Topps Football cards. 

The Trends

So how did this Platinum Night compare to the results realized in previous years? Total realized prices dipped slightly year over year but are still up more than 70% from total sales in 2020. The Winter Platinum auction in 2021 was near the height of the sports card market as eight different cards sold for more than $500,000.

Data: Heritage Auctions

Even as prices fell short of last years total, demand reached new heights. The auction attracted more than 3,000 individual bidders, the most ever for a Platinum Night. This marked the second auction

Data: Heritage Auctions

This year, only one card sold for more then $500,000 but the high-end results were significantly more diversified in 2022. Baseball continued to be the most represented sport as 591 baseball-related lots were sold at the event which was over 300 more than any other sport. Basketball totals remained relatively the same while football actually fell -32%. Some sports experienced significant gains though as hockey sales doubled, from 27 to 52 while boxing and golf both saw upticks in representation.

Data: Heritage Auctions

The type of asset sold also diversified this year as less sports card sales declined in volume but other sectors experienced strong appreciation. Last year, sports cards made up over 52% of the Winter Platinum Auction. In 2022, that number fell to 39% as memorabilia, tickets, photos, and paper documents all gained representation. There were 47 more pieces of memorabilia sold at this event compared to last year and sales included unique non-sports items such as the flight cap worn by Amelia Earhart. Programs and tickets made up 7% of the auction this year, compared to only 3% last year. Those numbers show the growth of the sector but do not demonstrate just how hot the market is. Out of the 70 examples sold, 11% struck six-figure prices. For comparison, 1.5% of all sports cards closed for prices above $100,000.

Data: Heritage Auctions

At the surface, it seems as though the sports card market has stabilized. There are plenty of cards that are still selling for prices well below valuations struck in 2021, but the overall market has demonstrated consistency over the last six months. The biggest storyline in the first quarter of 2022 might be the uptick in non-sports card assets. This Heritage Auction demonstrated that growth and diversification as sales for memorabilia and other historic artifacts soared while cards dipped.

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