Memorabilia Musings: Jordan Jerseys Take Center Stage
This weekend, Heritage Auctions sold a Honus Wagner T-206 card for $2.3mm and a Tom Brady Championship Ticket card for $1.6mm. And Heritage made worldwide headlines…just not for either of those.
Instead, it was the $1.38mm sale of a Michael Jordan UNC jersey that reverberated globally. Step aside cards, memorabilia’s in the house!
The jersey, photo-matched to Jordan’s Sporting News Player of the Year cover shoot and corroborated as game-worn via several letters of provenance, is a true crown jewel from Jordan’s Tar Heel days. Heritage notes that, in 1999, the jersey originally auctioned for $63,500. The sales price of $1.38mm, a record for a Jordan Jersey, represents a 15% annualized return over that 22 year period. Strong to quite strong.
While many of us aren’t soon forking over millions of dollars for a Jordan jersey, the fractional marketplaces present some interesting options to satisfy the desire for such an allocation, particularly in the wake of muted secondary market performance. Let's take a peek in the fractional investor's locker to see what's available.
Michael Jordan Game Worn & Signed Rookie Jersey
Current Market Cap: $242,000
Initial Offering Market Cap: $242,000
Performance Since Launch: 0%
Offered in January of this year by Collectable was a game worn and signed road jersey from Jordan’s rookie season with the Bulls. Perhaps the most direct comp, both at the time and presently, is another signed road jersey from Jordan’s rookie year, which sold in August of 2020 via Goldin Auctions for $216,000. In that same Goldin auction, a PSA 10 Fleer Jordan rookie card sold for $91,200. While that market has cooled off considerably in recent months, sales are still approximately 4x that August 2020 level. Memorabilia did not heat up to the extent cards did earlier this year, but those directional trends provide food for thought, particularly as fractional memorabilia performance has been muted (the category has an average ROI of -9.75% as of 5/7). There are additional, more recent comps than the Goldin jersey: an unsigned, game-used full uniform from Jordan's rookie season sold with Sotheby's for $176,400 in December 2020, while a 1997-1998 game-used, unsigned home jersey sold via Grey Flannel auctions for $230k a month later. Worth noting: Collectable's jersey has rallied over 35% in the last week on the news.
1991 Michael Jordan Game-Worn Uniform
Current Market Cap: $70,000
Initial Offering Market Cap: $70,000
Performance Since Launch: Not Yet Trading
Also offered in January of this year, this time by Rally, was a game worn uniform (including shorts) from Jordan’s first NBA title winning season in 1991. The uniform, authenticated and graded A10 (the highest grade available) by Mears has not begun trading as of yet, though its debut is likely not far off. A 1997-98 game used & signed home uniform sold for $59,040 in August of 2020 with Goldin Auctions, while Rally’s particular uniform appears to have sold via Goldin in December of 2020 for $67,200, a 136% improvement on the uniform’s February 2015 sale for $28,440 (this equates roughly to the 15% annualized return number we saw in the case of the UNC jersey). In that same December Goldin auction, a Fleer Jordan rookie sold for $211,560 (which would pale in comparison to the very next month’s peak $720k sales). Again, cards and memorabilia are very much apples and oranges, especially in the fractional marketplaces, so draw your own conclusions, but Fleer Rookie sales remain markedly above that December 2020 level for the time being.
Higher-echelon uniforms have sold from Sotheby's (rookie year - Dec 2020 - $176k) and Goldin (1997 photo-matched black uniform - Aug 2020 - $288k).
’84 Jordan Signing Day Jersey
Current Market Cap: $202,500
Initial Offering Market Cap: $375,000
Performance Since Launch: -46%
The very first Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey, held aloft by the GOAT himself at his introductory press conference, was offered on Rally In January of this year (clearly a popular season for Jordan jersey offerings). Sure, it’s not game-worn, but it’s the first Jordan Bulls jersey MJ ever touched, and in that regard, it’s somewhat difficult to comp. The jersey sold via Julien’s auctions in December of 2020 for $320,000. The asset was initially offered by Rally at $375k, and after its first day of trading last week, now sits at $202,500, 46% below the IPO price, and 37% below its purchase price of just a few months ago. A few months prior to the Julien's sale, in early October 2020, Heritage sold what was dubbed the earliest known, worn Jordan Bulls jersey, photo-matched to the team's yearbook shoot, for $144,000. The game worn rookie jersey from Collectable becomes an interesting comp itself, with conclusions drawn based on the beholder’s preference for game worn & signed vs. first ever jersey. Again, the January 2021 sale of a 1997-1998 game-used, unsigned home jersey from Grey Flannel for $230k also represents a more recent, though not like-for-like comp.
In some ways like the Sporting News UNC jersey (acknowledging the proliferation of Bulls memorabilia vs Tar Heels Jordan gear), this is an indisputable 1-of-1.
’98 Michael Jordan Game-Worn Jersey (Signed)
Initial Offering Market Cap: $129k
Exit Market Cap: $157k
Performance Since Launch: 22.89%
If this was your preferred avenue for gaining Jordan jersey exposure, I’m afraid you missed the boat, as Rally investors exited the asset in May of 2020 at a 23% gain. Given the Grey Flannel sale of an unsigned jersey from the same season, as well as another sale of an unsigned game-worn jersey from 97-98 for $216k via Goldin in August, this may have been a bit hasty. That being said, a different unsigned, game-worn jersey from that season sold with Goldin in September for $174k, a weaker result than a month prior, but still higher than the exit value of Rally's signed example.
More to come from the Altan team on happenings throughout the Fractional Memorabilia sector.
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