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Quick Hits: Reacting to the PWCC October Premier Auction

Quick Hits: Reacting to the PWCC October Premier Auction
October 21, 2022
Dylan Dittrich

We're well into the last quarter of the year, and the modern sports card market will have its work cut out for it to turn 2022 into a winner. If there is to be a turnaround, it hasn't started yet. Values in the modern space continue to struggle, but while the trajectory broadly remains downward, the October Premier Auction at PWCC was not without highlights and interesting storylines. Let's dive into a few of them.

Brady, the tax-loss machine

For the second time in three months, a Brady Championship Ticket holder locked in a brutal loss on the card. This time, a BGS 9 copy which last sold at Leland’s in June of 2021 for $3.107 million fetched just $2.4 million, a 23% loss before even deducting buyer’s premium or fees.

This comes just two months after a BGS 8.5 example sold at PWCC for $1,200,000, a mere $840,000 lower than it was purchased for in February. 

There are two possibilities: 1) some high-end card buyers are really living on the edge in terms of liquidity, or 2) they don’t see the market bouncing higher in the near-term and are inclined to recognize the loss for tax purposes as we head into year end. Still, a tax write-off can only do so much to ease the sting of losses approaching seven-figure levels on a single piece of cardboard. 

Trout still a seven-figure man

Photo: PWCC

Mike Trout’s Rookie Red Refractor Auto managed to eek into seven-figure territory, selling for $1,080,000. The card, graded BGS 9.5, last sold at Goldin in May of 2020 for $922,500. So, while there was appreciation, it likely inflicted losses on the seller after accounting for buyer’s premium & fees. Still, it’s somewhat impressive to see Mike Trout cards continuing to push into this territory. The last sale came before the record-setting Superfractor sale, at the very earliest stages of modern card mania. Here we are two and a half years later, encompassing three baseball seasons in which Trout played just 208 games total, and at least to somebody, the card is worth $1 million. This result also comes against the backdrop of a broad Mike Trout market that has largely been in freefall.

Worth noting: the two seven-figure sales at this event bring 2022 within just two tallies of 2021's total for seven-figure (or higher) sports auction sales.

All rise! Card values included…

All it took was breaking a decades-old record, but Aaron Judge’s cards appear to have found a new level, and sellers are capitalizing. There were six five-figure Judge sales in this auction, which I assure you is more than any other event in history. 

His Orange Refractor rookie auto, graded PSA 10, sold for $66,000, nearly tripling the $22,800 result from just over a year ago. Similarly, that card in a BGS 9.5 grade sold for $27,600, territory reserved only for PSA and BGS 10s until spring of this year. 

A bump in values amidst the excitement of a record chase was always likely, but it’s often the best time to be a seller rather than a buyer. Now, the question is whether it can be sustained when the dust begins to settle.

Josh Allen hurdles the pack

For whatever reason, despite his obvious talent and the Bills’ relentless rise, Josh Allen cards had fairly consistently lagged the rest of the young quarterback crop over the last two years. But no more!

In this event, his BGS 9 National Treasures RPA (/99) outsold the same card of Herbert, Burrow, and even Mahomes, though importantly, the latter’s patch was single-color. To see Allen so frequently present amongst the highest sales - he accounted for 8 of the top 12 ultra modern football sales - is somewhat new, but it might be time to start getting used to it. Notably, two Josh Allen 2018 Super Bowl Ticket 1/1s sold for over $100,000. The only other quarterbacks to reach six-figure territory in the event were Mahomes and Brady.

Zion is back! But to little fanfare…

Photo: PWCC

It was a tough 2021 and early 2022 for Zion Williamson. Injuries derailed a promising start to his NBA career, and with those injuries came myriad questions about the sustainability of his stardom, his conditioning, and his future. Card values responded in turn, and Zion cards became one of the primary cautionary tales around ultra-modern collecting through the boom. 

But Zion showed up for the 2022-23 season in what appears to be incredible fighting shape. He’s lean, happy, and explosive, and the on-court results thus far are encouraging. In the Pelicans’ season debut, Zion accumulated 25 points and 9 rebounds in a convincing win over the Nets. With Williamson healthy, the Pelicans suddenly look like a threat in the Western Conference.

But….the card market isn’t responding just yet. 

The $78,000 sale of his BGS 9 National Treasures RPA is just off of two year lows. Similarly, the $20,400 sale of his BGS 9.5 Mojo Prizm is the lowest since April of 2020. While Zion may very well reclaim his place amongst the sport’s most collectable players, it’s perhaps refreshing to see that the market has learned it may be best to take a wait-and-see approach. 

One card that seemed to fly under the radar: the Flawless Zion/Ja Morant Dual Rookie Logoman, featuring game-worn/used material. That card sold for $87,000, which feels light given Zion's return, Ja's rising collectability, the strengthened hopes of both of their teams, and the Flawless Logoman hype in 2022.

Not so fast, Carlos.

The arrival of Carlos Alcaraz cards to the secondary market coincided beautifully with his epic triumph at this year’s US Open. Just as the young Spaniard was outlasting foe after Foe (see what I did there?) in marathon matches, NetPro’s latest prizes were being delivered to new homes, routed to grading agencies, and prepared for the auction block. The early action in his patch autograph cards was perhaps a bit overwrought (as we pointed out in our Q3 report) with raw cards selling for $20,000+ and a PSA 8 drawing $32,000 at Goldin. Those sales placed Alcaraz values in the realm of Roger Federer - ironic, because the most expensive Alcaraz card is an homage to those iconic Federer and Serena apparel patch autos. 

Those wrongs were righted at PWCC though, as Federer’s 2003 NetPro Patch Auto, graded BGS 9.5, sold for $84,000. That’s down from $110,000 in February, but a hearty premium to the $43,200 paid for a BGS 9 in May. 

Alcaraz’s 2022 RPA, graded SGC 8.5 and numbered to 50 rather than the 25 for Federer’s card, sold for $9,600. While that represents a cooling from the heights of his market in the aftermath of the victory, it’s still an impressive tennis result for a player with one Slam to his name. Notably, it also trails the $14,400 paid for a PSA 10 copy of Rafael Nadal’s 2003 NetPro Elite Glossy card, the highest result for that card to date at PWCC.

How many goals does Haaland need to score?

Photo: PWCC

Erling Haaland currently has 15 Premier League goals in 10 appearances and 20 goals in 13 appearances across all competitions. Those are absolutely outrageous numbers. Coming into the season, the otherworldly striker’s card market had been consistently softening. While the softening seems to have stopped, the market hasn’t leapt off the bottom just yet.

Haaland’s Topps Chrome Bundesliga Orange Refractor, graded PSA 9, sold for the exact same amount that it did in August: $16,800. A BGS 9.5 copy of the same card wasn’t much higher at $21,600, which is just below an April 2022 sale. 

Similarly, his Gold Refractor Auto in PSA 10 condition sold for $34,800, a shade above a $33,000 May sale. Given the challenged broader market since May though, that may signal some growing Haaland momentum. 

The top result of the event for a Haaland card was $38,400, paid for his UEFA Champions League Red Refractor in BGS 10 condition, not as coveted as the Bundesliga Red Refractor.

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