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PWCC's April Premier Auction: Fractional Comp Behemoth

PWCC's April Premier Auction: Fractional Comp Behemoth
April 19, 2022
Dylan Dittrich

The PWCC April Premier Auction closed this past weekend, and the event continues to be an important representation of high-end market activity for fractional investors and collectors alike. This particular event has to be the single most fractionally relevant auction held to date, with a whopping forty-one items sold that are like-graded with fractional counterparts. As noted via tweet yesterday, that’s more than 10% of the entire fractional card population, without even getting into cards that might have been a half of a grade or a grade off. In case you missed it, here’s how things shook out in terms of fractional comps, with a fairly even split of opportunities and warning signs. 

Fractional values as of 4/17.

Overall, activity at the event was healthy relative to the prior month. 35 six-figure sales were recorded - that’s down from 43 in March, but effectively on par with January and February. The top 24 “page one” sales were up 48% in value over March, led by three very big ticket sales: Brady’s Championship Ticket, the PSA 10 Scoring Leaders, and the BGS 9.5 Curry RPA. 

On the whole, this wasn’t the event for huge breakouts (with some exceptions) or collapsing values (with some exceptions). But given the volume of very high-end cards coming to auction with increasing frequency across houses, perhaps relative stability is healthy. Don’t confuse stability with boredom though, as there was plenty to take away from the event. Let’s get into it. 

Modern baseball stays hot.

PWCC has seen modern baseball strength in the last few Premier Auctions, and April was no different. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that the standout sale of the entire event was the $552,000 sale of a BGS 10 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Red Refractor, which more than doubled the previous Guerrero record. Given the sums paid for prospects this year, it’s not entirely surprising to see such a high graded example of a low serial-numbered card draw big results, particularly for a fan favorite.

Photo: PWCC

There were five six-figure modern card sales in the auction, with Trout, Tatis, Soto, and Luis Robert getting in on the action. While Trout’s $228,000 Orange Refractor is down from the April 2021 peak of $270,600, both his Refractor and X-Fractor ticked up at this auction. Juan Soto notched multiple strong results, with $132,000 and $66,000 paid for his BGS 9.5 Orange and Gold Refractors respectively (how often does a card numbered to 50 sell for exactly half of the same card numbered to 25?). Ronald Acuna’s Gold Refractor, graded BGS 9.5, is nearly twice as expensive at $57,600 as a BGS 10 was last spring. 

The prospecting wave retains momentum, as a PSA 10 Marcelo Mayer Orange Refractor sold for $34,800. Newly minted big leaguer Julio Rodriguez saw his PSA 10 Gold Refractor sell for the same sum. Notably, those are both ahead of the $34,200 paid for two-time MVP Bryce Harper’s Gold Refractor rookie.

Rationalization continues among the most collectable soccer stars.

The most collectable, active soccer players have endured a start to 2022 that is likely best described as mixed. Values took quickly to new heights in 2021 as the broader collecting public began to embrace the untapped potential in the sport. But at the high-end, that meant money flocking to many of the same cards. The Ronaldo and Messi Mega Craques/Cracks rookies. The Mbappe and Haaland refractors. While those cards have had ups in 2022, for the most part they remain well off of highs.

Messi’s Mega Cracks rookie, graded BGS 9.5, is fresh off of a March PWCC Premier Auction in which an example with quad 9.5 subgrades sold for $84,000. Fast forward a month, and an example with stronger average subgrades sold for $55,200. A BGS 9 Ronaldo Mega Craques rookie sold for $20,400, clearing the $18,000 mark set a month prior, while a 2018 World Cup Ronaldo Gold Prizm graded BGS 8.5 was the highest selling soccer lot in the auction at $63,000. The latter fact alone sheds light on a market that isn’t foaming at the mouth at the high-end for the usual suspects.

Erling Haaland’s Topps Chrome Bundesliga Gold Refractor, graded PSA 10, sold for $27,600. The last time that card sold publicly was for $36,533 at Alt in February, which was down from $46,800 at Goldin in August. While it hasn’t been a banner year for Haaland, who has lost matches due to injury, the slide seems unlikely to persist much further  given his young age, ridiculous goal-scoring track record, and impending transfer (anybody but Man City, I beg you). 

McDavid finally in the spotlight.

Photo: PWCC

2022 seems to be the year that collectors have finally taken notice of Connor McDavid’s abilities and star-power. For the second time at a Premier Auction this year, a McDavid card drew more than $100,000. This time, it was his Upper Deck The Cup RPA graded BGS 9 that sold for $120k, coming up shy of the $144,000 February sale of a The Cup Exquisite Collection RPA graded PSA 10. That was only one of four McDavid sales in the auction, though, and a 2015 Exquisite ‘03 Tribute RPA graded BGS 9 sold for $72,000. Across the four cards, McDavid cards totaled $242,400 in sales. There were seven total hockey cards in the auction, and McDavid cards accounted for 79% of the total hockey sales. For a player aged just 25 years old at the pinnacle of the sport, we’re left to wonder if this is only the beginning.

Tiger hysteria fails to ignite.

The $5.2 million sale at Golden Age of Tiger’s “Tiger Slam” winning irons made plenty of headlines. However, to date, that momentum has not trickled into Tiger cards, and that was the case in this auction as well. His SP Authentic Rookie Auto (/900), graded PSA 10, sold for $58,800. That’s down from $67,200 earlier in April and $72,000 in March. An SGC 10 fared worse, drawing $38,400. Not even a Jambalaya insert, exclusive to Upper Deck employees, could catch significant buzz, selling for $21,600 in PSA 10 condition. Given the red and black color scheme of that card, with Tiger pictured in his iconic Sunday red, in addition to the growing popularity of the Jambalaya insert across categories, it feels like a future favorite. 

High-end basketball appetite stable to tepid.

With this auction falling on the day the NBA playoffs started in earnest, it seems that a collective “wait-and-see” mode took hold amongst the bidding public. Results were certainly not weak, but standout strength was not common either. The two highest-end Curry sales ticked slightly below their last levels; the $720,000 BGS 9.5 National Treasures RPA was $60k less than the late 2021 Collectable buyout (shareholders can breathe a sigh of seller’s relief…for a moment). Luka results failed to dazzle, as both his RPAs and his numbered Prizms have found themselves on shaky footing in 2022. Trae cards effectively moved sideways, while Jayson Tatum continues to struggle to establish himself at the forefront of the high-end collector’s consciousness.

Photo: PWCC

Two areas of strength: Ja Morant and Anthony Edwards. There likely hasn’t been a player in any sport whose stock has risen as much as Morant’s in 2022. That continued at PWCC, as his BGS 9.5 National Treasures RPA sold for $312,000. That’s a massive number that puts him squarely in the company of the likes of Luka (even above at the moment), and it was one of three six figure Morant sales. Anthony Edwards’ Gold National Treasures RPA, graded PSA 9, sold for $222,000. He stands out as a player to watch through the early rounds of the playoffs, not just for his play on court, but also for noticeably rising off-court profile and adoration. 

QB battle continues, but Allen can’t catch a break.

We’re two months removed from the Super Bowl and four months and change away from a new season. No matter. Young quarterbacks are still racking up six figure sales. Three Justin Herbert RPAs crossed the $100,000 mark in this auction alone, while Burrow and Josh Allen each chipped in with one apiece. 

Photo: PWCC

It seems that no matter how he plays or what amazing cards surface at auction, Josh Allen is unable to quite get on terms with the rest of the bunch. This weekend, it was Allen’s Holo Silver (/20) RPA, graded PSA 10, up for sale, and it drew $126,000. That’s a strong result, of course, but perhaps softer than you’d expect for the scarcity and the grade. A few weeks ago, it was his Holo Gold RPA  (/10), also graded a 10, reeling in $312,000. He’s right in the mix, to be sure, but it doesn’t yet feel like values are commensurate with his play relative to the rest of the field. Maybe the upcoming golf match with Brady, Mahomes, and Rodgers will have an effect on how the general public views Allen, better branding him amongst the very most elite signal-callers.

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