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Dream Realized: Karl Malone's Dream Team Collection Sells for $5 Million at Goldin

Dream Realized: Karl Malone's Dream Team Collection Sells for $5 Million at Goldin
June 2, 2023
Dylan Dittrich

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The Dream Team was the greatest sports team ever assembled for official competition.

We could go on and on about the roster composition, individual accolades, and the team's dominance (the average margin of victory was 43.8 points), but we won't. You know the story, and you get the idea.

Because the team's legacy is so unique and so memorable, and because it was assembled for such a short period of time, memorabilia related to the 1992 phenomenon is both exceedingly rare and exceedingly coveted. So, when Karl Malone's complete personal collection of jerseys and sneakers gifted from each teammate was consigned to Goldin, big results were a certainty.

How big?

24 items - 12 jerseys and 12 pairs of sneakers from 12 players - amassed $5.4 million in total sales. The highlight was the $3,030,000 sale of Michael Jordan's jersey from the Olympic semifinal, which is the second most expensive Jordan memorabilia sale of all time.

The collection was a showcase for the power of provenance and authentication. The provenance, of course, was ironclad, coming directly from the Mailman, with inscriptions written directly to him. In today's market, though, it's preferable to expand beyond provenance alone. 9 of the 12 jerseys were photomatched by three separate providers (Meigray, Resolution, and SIA). The 3 that were not photomatched (Ewing, Laettner, Mullin) were deemed "likely" photomatches by Resolution, and they sold for 28-33% less than the lowest photomatched sale.

Prior sales of Dream Team memorabilia - and really of most memorabilia from players of this era - have often been held back by those missing measures of authenticity. The timing of this event, in a moment where market participants are well-attuned to the allure of trophy assets, and that heightened standard of authenticity combined to effectively rewrite the record books for countless players.

Here's just a sampling of the jersey records, and it's not an exhaustive list, as three others notched new highs as well:

  • $360,000 - Larry Bird memorabilia record
  • $230,400 - Charles Barkley memorabilia record
  • $116,400 - David Robinson memorabilia record
  • $91,200 - Clyde Drexler memorabilia record
  • $80,400 - Scottie Pippen memorabilia record

Those are big all-time great big names. All five made the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team of the 75 best players ever, so to have each of their records fall at the same event is telling.

The sneakers also decimated the game-worn sneaker record books for 8 of the 12 players. Interestingly, this isn't the first time a complete set of Dream Team sneakers has been auctioned. Back in 2016 at Heritage, the collection of team physician David A. Fischer was sold, similarly featuring signatures and inscriptions, though without clarity as to what game(s) they might've featured in. Additionally, four of the lots featured only single sneakers rather than a pair.

Still, the total sales at Goldin were more than 6.5 times higher than what the Fischer collection garnered seven years ago. If you exclude the single sneaker lots, on average, the sale of each pair at Goldin was 833% higher than its counterpart in 2016.  For some context: Larry Bird's Fischer sneakers sold for $17,925. At Goldin? $91,200. Barkley's sold for $8,962.50 in 2016. Last week, the pair at Goldin sold for $79,200. Put another way, it's a blowout on par with the team's 116-48 victory over Angola. Not a fair fight.

In June of 2020, Lelands sold signed Jordan, Pippen, and Magic sneakers with provenance from the Tournament of the Americas (a pre-Olympic tournament) and some evidence of photomatching to the gold medal round of that competition for the Bulls teammates, though not from either of the three photomatching providers used for the Malone collection. Here's how the results stack up:

  • Jordan: $190,373 at Lelands in 2020, $420,000 at Goldin in 2023
  • Pippen: $29,557 at Lelands in 2020, $48,000 at Goldin in 2023
  • Magic: $26,870 at Lelands in 2020, $61,200 at Goldin in 2023

On average, last week's sales were 104% higher than those from 2020.

This also isn't Goldin's first experience with Dream Team memorabilia. In 2014, it sold a signed Michael Jordan Dream Team uniform for $31,987. The lot came with letters from MEARS, PSA/DNA, JSA, UDA, and the Basketball HOF. Just a veritable parade of capitalized abbreviations. The same uniform sold again in 2016 for $61,200. In 2016, market participants might've considered the item to be ironclad in authenticity from the sheer number of LOAs alone, and in 2016, they might've considered $61,200 a sizable sale. But times have certainly changed...

The unique nature of Malone's collection may be incredibly difficult to exceed. The formula of impenetrable provenance, unparalleled authenticity, culturally iconic nostalgia, and global renown is incredibly potent, as evidenced by the results.

There will never again be something quite like the Dream Team. What other phenomenon could propel a non-Duke Christian Laettner jersey to a near $40,000 price tag?

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