Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Login
Don't have an account?
Signup
Error Message

Resources & Guides

All the helpful tips and information you need to start your alternative asset investing journey.
News & Trends
Search icon
April 3, 2024

What Are The Most Expensive Things Ever Sold? The Altan Insights Collectibles Record Board

By 
Altan Insights
Find all of the major auction records for collectibles of any category here. From fine art to sports cards, Altan Insights is maintaining the record books.
Read More...
Categories
Are Pokémon Cards a Good Investment?
FAQs

Are Pokémon Cards a Good Investment?

By 
Keenan Flack

Are Pokémon Cards a Good Investment?

In December of 2021, a first edition PSA 10 Charizard Pokémon card sold for an astonishing $288,000 at auction, even more shocking is that just 3 months later a similarly graded copy sold for $420,000. Pokémon cards have gone from childhood pastime to serious investment consideration for collectors and investors alike. In this article, we'll delve into the investment potential of Pokémon cards, focusing on ten of the most popular Pokémon from the original 151. Are these nostalgic treasures the kind of thing one could use to retire? Let's explore.

As a reminder, none of this should be construed as investment advice.

Why First Edition PSA 10 Cards?

PSA

In our exploration of the investment viability of Pokémon cards, the focus has been placed on PSA 10 first edition cards. This decision is grounded in the understanding that, much like the market for fine art, the true gauge of a collectible's market performance lies in its most pristine and rare specimens. PSA 10 denotes a card in 'Gem Mint' condition, representing the pinnacle of quality and condition in the collecting world. First edition cards, being the initial print run, possess an inherent scarcity and historical significance that elevates their status and demand among collectors. By concentrating on these cards, we aim to assess the Pokémon card market at its most elite level, providing insights into its investment quality based on the performance of its most sought-after pieces.

Which Auction Houses sell the Most Expensive Pokémon Cards?

The analysis presented in this article leverages Altan Insights' dataset on collectible prices, sourced from leading auction houses known for the sale of high-end Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) items. Primarily, these sales have been from PWCC, a dominant player in the Pokémon card market, renowned for handling the sale of ultra-premium Pokémon cards. Additionally, Heritage Auctions, with its monthly TCG sales featuring a significant representation of Pokémon TCG, serves as another critical data source. Goldin Auctions has a robust TCG department as well, listing thousands of Pokémon cards each year reaching prices as high as half a million dollars.

Our broad data collection approach allows for a robust and accurate reflection of market dynamics, capturing the fluctuations and trends in the prices of top-tier Pokémon cards over a specified period. By meticulously compiling and analyzing sales data from these marketplaces, we provide a detailed examination of the investment landscape for PSA 10 first edition Pokémon cards.

Where do I Invest in Pokémon cards?

As mentioned above, Auction houses like Goldin, Heritage, and PWCC are among the most reputable secondary markets for Pokémon cards. They sell cards priced anywhere between $5 and $500,000. If you are looking to start your Pokémon card collecting journey, then those houses would be a good place to start.

If you wish to simply invest in these assets for future returns, transacting with PWCC or Goldin might suit you well. These two houses have vault programs, allowing their customers to place their acquired cards into the stewardship of the house. Allowing you to sell later without having to send the card in, saving you time and shipping costs.

Smaller upstarts like Courtyard.io and Rare Candy also offer ways to invest in Pokémon cards. Courtyard operates a marketplace that lists cards backed by Ethereum tokens, following your purchase of a card it will sit in a Brinks vault until you see fit to sell it. You can even set a buy now price for other users to buyout your card and have its ownership instantaneously reflect the new owner. Rare Candy’s marketplace offers cards, packs, boxes, and sets; though opening packs and boxes is more analogous to gambling than investing, this is certainly a way to begin your journey.

Finally, eBay, in terms of listing volume none of the above names even come close. Though if you intend to start your Pokémon investing journey there be sure to keep a watchful eye on exactly what you are buying. Auction houses act as a third party between buyer and seller, ensuring the buyer is getting exactly what they paid for. eBay, on the other hand, operates at such a scale that individual customers will be directed to the seller of the item when something goes awry. This lower customer interaction does come with lower fees though, making eBay a great place to find deals. Assuming you know what you are looking for, and are transacting with a trusted seller.

How do I invest in Pokémon cards?

Although this post has centered on cards graded PSA 10, one can start their Pokémon investing journey at any price point. The highest quality cards will always command a premium, but eagle-eyed collectors must be on the lookout for solid prices at any grade.

You can start investing in your favorite Pokémon today! Be mindful of the population of a card/grade, the price relative to previous sales, and the current/future popularity of the character.  

Love Dragonite, but can’t scratch together $4,000 to acquire a PSA 10 copy? Maybe pick up a $153 PSA 5 copy. Don’t have the funds for a $15,000 Mewtwo-Holo? You can purchase a PSA 6 copy for under$1,000. These cards will not be setting price records, but if prices for PSA 10copies climb, so can the price for lesser-graded copies too.

1999 Pokémon 1st Edition Charizard-Holo PSA 10

Altan Insights

Analyzing the sales data for the "1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10" card from November 2020 to February 2024 reveals a fluctuating but overall downward trend in its investment performance. Initially, the card experienced a significant surge in value, peaking at $420,000 in March 2022, reflecting the wild fervor in the market for collectibles at the time. Following this peak there was a notable decline in its sale prices, with the latest sale in February 2024 recording a value of $168,000.

PSA

The rarity of the card, with only 123 copies graded as PSA 10 out of 4,431 total PSA graded copies, combined with Charizard's status as arguably the most beloved Pokémon, underscores its inherent value and potential for long-term appreciation. Despite the recent decline in sale prices, the unique combination of fan love and scarcity has historically underpinned its value as among the most sought-after collectibles. The fluctuations in price also reflect the volatile nature of the collectibles market, where values can significantly change based on market sentiment, the economic environment, and collector trends. As such, while the card's recent performance shows a downturn, potentially offering deep-pocketed collectors the chance to sell if the value reverses course.

1999 Pokemon Fossil 1st Edition Gengar-Holo #5 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The sales history of the "1999 Pokémon Fossil 1st Edition Holo Gengar #5 PSA 10" card from February 2020 to February 2024 presents an intriguing narrative of its investment performance, marked by significant volatility and a notable recovery pattern. Initially, the card's value saw a rapid increase, climbing from $1,189 in February 2020 to a peak of $3,120 in March 2022. However, prices began to fall from there, including a sharp drop to $1,200 in December 2023 before rebounding to $3,150 in February 2024.

PSA

The Gengar card's rarity is underscored by its PSA 10 grade, with only 175 out of 4,042 total graded copies achieving this distinction, indicating a gem rate of 4.3%. While Gengar's prices have not reached the same heights as some of its peers, the card's performance is indicative of a strong market presence. The fluctuations in its sale price, notably the recent recovery, suggest more resilient demand.

1999 Pokémon 1st Edition Bulbasaur  #63 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The investment performance of the "1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Bulbasaur #44 PSA 10" card from November 2020to February 2024 highlights a notable market volatility specific to this collectible. Initially, the card prices showed variability, peaking dramatically at $15,000 in February 2021, which was certainly influenced by the Covid trading card bubble. Following this peak, the card's value experienced a decline, stabilizing in a lower range between $1,470 and $1,950 in the subsequent years.

PSA

The Bulbasaur card has a PSA 10 gem rate of 13% out of a total PSA population of 2,606, a bit higher than average, implying that PSA 10copies are less scarce than usual. When comparing Bulbasaur's market performance to its Gen 1 starter counterparts, Charmander and Squirtle, whose most recent PSA 10 sales were significantly lower; with recent eBay sales of first edition Charmander selling for $767.38 and Squirtle for $677.75. Bulbasaur fares quite well, reflecting the grass-type Pokémon’s appeal and its population being half of either of the other two. This comparison suggests that while all three Gen 1 starter Pokémon enjoy popularity, market valuations can significantly differ based on perceived rarity, collector demand, and perhaps nostalgic value attached to each character.

1999 Pokémon 1st Edition Pikachu Red Cheeks #58 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The "1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Red Cheeks Pikachu #58 PSA 10" card, like many others, experienced extreme highs during 2020/2021. Initially selling for $4,000 in October 2020, the card saw a dramatic peak at $15,200 by February 2021. Following this peak, the card experienced more tame fluctuations in price, generally trending downwards with bright spots, such as a rebound to $5,500 in March 2023. By February 2024, the sale price stabilized at $4,200, indicating a market correction from its all-time high yet maintaining a value above its initial October 2020 figure.

PSA

This card's valuation is intricately tied to its rarity and the iconic status of Pikachu as a central Pokémon character. With a total PSA population of 2,554 and only 253 graded at PSA 10, even with comparable populations to Bulbasaur—'Red Cheeks’ found a floor price of just $3,000compared to Bulbasaur’s bottom of $1,530. The two’s peak prices of $15,000 were hit in the same month of 2021, possibly implying that when the getting is good rare first edition cards can skyrocket, but the most desirable are able to retain that value more admirably going forward.

In comparison, its counterpart, the 1st Edition Yellow Cheeks Pikachu, despite only having a slightly higher total population (3,104)and more cards graded at PSA 10 (534), has not reached the same peak prices, peaking at less than half of the ‘Red Cheeks’ variant's highest sale price. This disparity underlines the premium collectors are willing to pay for the rarity and specific variations within the Pokémon card market.

1999 Pokemon Fossil 1st Edition Dragonite-Holo #4 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The "1999 Pokemon Fossil 1st Edition Holo Dragonite #4 PSA 10" card has experienced a diverse range of sales prices since February 2020, showcasing its volatility in the collectibles market. The card's value saw a peak of $9,850 in October 2020. Although, the falloff from this peak was less aggressive compared to similar cards who peaked around the same time. Going from $9,850 to a post-bubble bottom of $3,360 in July of 2022;resulting in a -65.8% from peak to trough. The latest sales in 2023 indicate stabilization marginally above that floor, with prices oscillating between $3,480 to $4,200 mark.

PSA

Dragonite's Fossil set provenance and its limited PSA 10 population of only 229 out of a PSA population of 5,100, tracks similarly to other first edition-Holo Fossil set cards. Despite the similarities in population and rarity with set-mate Gengar, Dragonite's higher peak prices may reflect the character’s appeal, or a bias towards cards with higher price records; a PSA 10 Gengar never experienced a 2020/21 boom price, its most recent transaction in February of 2024 is likely the auction record at $3,150. Maybe implying some room to run if there is another Poké-bubble upon us?

1999 Pokemon 1st Edition Mewtwo-Holo #10 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The "1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Holo Mewtwo #10 PSA 10" card presents an intriguing investment profile, with its transaction history from November 2020 to April 2023 showing a retention in value across those three years. Initially, the card's value hovered around the$20,000 mark, peaking at $22,655 in November 2020. Notable dips went as low as$13,100 in April 2021 and a surprising fall to $3,000 in November 2022, before rebounding impressively to $24,600 in February 2023. Minor fluctuations with only one major falloff, ironically enough during the 2021 Poké-bubble, implies that this Mewtwo card is at least worthy of being named a solid store of value (past performance does not guarantee future results).

PSA

The rarity of the Mewtwo card, with only 82 copies graded PSA 10 out of a total PSA population of 1,973, positions it as a scarce asset, potentially driving its appeal to collectors. Mewtwo's prominence in Pokémon lore, particularly its central role in "Pokémon: The First Movie, "cemented the character’s status as a nostalgic and iconic figure, possibly contributing to its price stability.

1999 Pokémon 1st Edition Arcanine #23 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The "1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Arcanine #23 PSA 10" card's sales data from November 2020 to January 2024 illustrates a relatively stable market with modest fluctuations in value. The card's value started at $696 in November 2020 and saw a peak at $1,125 in February 2021, tracking nicely with peak prices achieved by other cards at the time. However, this surge was followed by a general decline and stabilization in price, with values oscillating between $432 and $800 in the subsequent periods. The price floor being only half that of the peak indicates that Arcanine did not receive the same bubble appreciation as other cards, or that collectors have been willing to hold onto them during this down period.

PSA

Arcanine's unique position in Pokémon lore, originally intended as a legendary Pokémon alongside Articuno and Zapdos, the card is even marked 'Legendary Pokémon' underneath the art. With a PSA population of 1,023 and only 208 graded as PSA 10, the card has the lowest population on the list; its price being on the low end of those discussed in this article would imply that this scarcity has not convinced collectors to bid up the value. The overall market behavior for the Arcanine card underscores the nuanced dynamics of Pokémon card collecting, where character lore, rarity, and condition significantly influence investment potential. Arcanine certainly has a smaller presence in the intellectual property than other characters on this list, but even with that lower exposure to fans it still has found a way to maintain its value over the last four years.  

1999 Pokémon Fossil 1st Edition Lapras-Holo #10 PSA 10

Altan Insights

The "1999 Pokémon Fossil 1st Edition Holo Lapras #10PSA 10" card's sales data from June 2020 to August 2023 shows a volatile asset, like most Pokémon cards, but even more so than usual. Like many others, this card experienced its peak price in 2021 of fetching $6,000 in March. However, this peak was the second all-time high for the card post-2020, finding$5,000 in late 2020 only for the record to be topped just 5 months later. The prices that followed in the next two years saw a general downtrend with some recent signs of life in June 2023 when it reached $2,750 after bottoming out at $1,920 the previous October. These price fluctuations broadly match the tempo of the broader Pokémon card market with recent sales trending in the right direction for potential investment.

PSA

The Fossil set, from which this Lapras card originates, also includes cards in this list like Gengar and Dragonite. With a PSA population of 3,543 and only 119 graded at PSA 10, this Lapras card exhibits similar overall scarcity in population to other cards, but an impressive gem rate at about 3.4%;compared to Fossil set compatriots, Dragonite and Gengar, who have 4.4% and4.3% respectively—PSA 10 copies of Lapras-Holo are markedly rarer. The entirety of PSA populations for Fossil set cards is around 235,000 while there are just over 768,000 base set cards in PSA pop reports. Although Fossil cards are 3x less rare this does not seem to transfer to a 3x increase in value. Valuing Pokémon cards as an investable asset is not an exact science, as shown by this list, each character/card is beloved by collectors for more reasons than there are Pokémon in a Pokédex.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

What are the Most Expensive Pieces of Sports Memorabilia of All Time?
Records

What are the Most Expensive Pieces of Sports Memorabilia of All Time?

By 
Altan Insights

We compiled the all-time auction price records for sports memorabilia as of February 2nd, 2024. Be sure to check back as we update the list as new records are set!

For more insight into the sports collectibles industry, download our free market research report!

What are the most expensive sports memorabilia pieces ever sold at auction?

14. LeBron James 2013 NBA Finals Miami Heat Game Worn Jersey | Game 7 - $3,680,000 - January 27, 2023

Sotheby's

Only three players in the history of the NBA have achieved back to back finals MVPs. Bill Russell (for whom the trophy is now named), Michael Jordan, and Lebron James.

Few players have been so lauded by fans prior to their entry into the league. While it is true that every few years the sports press likes to hype up transcendently talented high-school athletes  for the sake of clicks and engagement; turns out, this was not one of those times. Describing James as, “The Chosen One”, ended up not being even slightly hyperbolic in this case.

After winning his first NBA title in 5 games with the Heat in 2011-12, we arrived at what many agree to be Lebron’s greatest season. There is endless evidence that points to this season exhibiting a Lebron James at the peak of his powers: going 27/8/7, shooting 56.5% from the field, MVP (Finals and Regular season), 2nd only to Marc Gasol in defensive player of the year voting, 27 game winning streak, the list goes on.

After fighting his way through 6 games against the San Antonio Spurs, Lebron took it upon himself to bring his team the championship. In an all time great finals performance LBJ scored 37 points wearing this jersey, a physical piece of evidence symbolizing Lebron’s indisputable greatness.

13. Original Naismith Rules of Basketball - $4,338,500 - December 10, 2020

Sotheby's

When it comes to sports, it isn’t often that the genesis of a game is so well documented. The popular American sports of today have their history rooted in some other popular game: Baseball to Cricket, (American) Football to….Football, Hockey to Lacrosse. All to varying degrees of course, but Naismith’s inspiration was a medieval children’s game known as ‘Duck on a Rock’, wherein kids would throw rocks at a larger rock, guarded by other children, in order to knock it down. One could see why this game didn’t really have the legs for massive adoption; sadly the youth of today has been deprived of the joy that can only be attained by clocking your class mates with a nice rock. Dr. Naismith surely deserves points for creativity here though.

When assigned the age old task of keeping kids entertained while cooped up inside over the winter, Naismith’s solution came down in a the form of a new game, Basketball. His thirteen rules, originally thumb-tacked to a bulletin board in a New England gym, are the genesis of the international phenomenon that is Basket Ball; you read that right, Naismith originally spelled it as two words.

Though the sport has changed drastically since its birth—namely with the advent of more and more physical contact which was explicitly outlawed in the original rules—its founding document is not too far off of what we call basketball today. Although we are curious how Naismith would feel about moving the three point line or where he lands on the MJ vs. Lebron debate.


12. C.1920 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Game Worn Road Jersey - Earliest Known Babe Ruth Jersey Extant (Mears A8) - $4,415,658 - May 20, 2012

SCP Auctions

In a baseball world that was rife with match-fixing scandals, the league needed a shot in the arm to get fans excited about the game again. Modern baseball fans can surely understand waning popularity and mistrust in league officials to run a fair and just game. At the time this problem was partially solved by the rise of a young player named George Herman “Babe” Ruth; “The Sultan of Swat”, “The King of Crash”, “The Colossus of Clout”, “THE GREAT BAMBINO”. You get it, you’ve seen Sandlot.

After starting his career in the majors as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 1914, he won three World Series with the club until his sale to New York in 1920. Upon his trade he transitioned into a power-hitting right-fielder, marking the beginning of what we now call the “live-ball era”. So named due to its contrast to the “dead-ball era” of the decade prior, in which fans witnessed low scoring games and a tragic dearth of dingers.

Ruth almost single-handedly brought baseball back to its height. Quality jersey’s from this era of baseball are rare as it is, but ones worn by Babe himself are even scarcer; some say less than 5 in this kind of quality are known. This jersey is not only one of the great pieces of sports memorabilia, but of historical memorabilia at large.

11. 1958 Mickey Mantle Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey- $4,680,000 - August 19, 2023

It wasn't the hardware Mickey Mantle wanted. We see no hint of self-satisfaction in his expression as president William Harridge bestows upon him the American League Most Valuable Player Award for 1957, a successful defense of the first he'd won in 1956 with a Triple Crown season that had the storybook ending the 1957 season had failed to supply.

After having suffering a painful Game Seven loss to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1955, the Bronx Bombers had quickly exacted their vengeance in 1956, resuming a supremacy over Major League Baseball that had become a familiar role to the young superstar who rookied into the greatest World Championship run in history in 1951. Now, as the 1958 season began, so did the single-minded quest to once again recapture the throne, this time from the Milwaukee Braves, who were enjoying a new World Championship ring for which Mantle would have happily traded that 1957 MVP.

10. Wilt Chamberlain 1972 NBA Finals Game 5 Jersey- $4,900,000 - September 27, 2023

On May 7, 1972 this gold Los Angeles Lakers jersey was worn as Wilt Chamberlain, nursing a broken hand sustained in the prior game of the 1972 NBA Finals, clinched his 2nd and final NBA Championship, the first ever championship for the Los Angeles Lakers, and his sole NBA Finals MVP award. He was dominant, scoring 24 points while grabbing 29 rebounds – a performance fitting for a goliath like Wilt. It was the end of a remarkable season, in which the Los Angeles Lakers had set the record for the most wins in a single season (69), and the most consecutive wins (33), the latter being a record which still stands across all US professional sports. Wilt is also shown wearing this exact jersey on multiple iconic covers of Sports Illustrated, including October 16, 1972, with the headline “It All Depends on Wilt” and May 15, 1972 with the headline, “Los Angeles Champions at Last!.”

9. Tiger Woods' 2000-2001 Tiger Slam Winning Irons - $5,156,162 - April 9, 2022

Golden Age

Tiger Woods is an icon in the world of golf, leaving an indelible mark on the sport with his legendary skill, resilience, and magnetic charisma. His career is only comparable to the handful of athletes who grace fans with nigh supernatural abilities in their respective games.

At the turn of the millennium, the golf world witnessed a remarkable feat, now known as the "Tiger Slam." Between 2000 and 2001, Tiger Woods captured four consecutive Major Championship titles, demonstrating his prowess and securing his place in golf history. The clubs he used during this incredible run are among the great pieces in all of collecting, representing not only the pinnacle of Woods' career but also an unforgettable moment in golf.

The Tiger Slam irons and wedges, including 2-PW Titleist Forged irons and two custom Vokey wedges, are a rare and invaluable piece of sports memorabilia. The wear mark on the face of the 8 iron is a testament to the dedication that went into achieving the Tiger Slam. These clubs come with substantial provenance documentation, backed by affidavits and declarations from Titleist executives who witnessed the exchange of these clubs and even a passed polygraph test. Art collectors eat your heart out; try asking for affidavits and polygraphs when you’re buying a Monet.

Golf enthusiasts and collectors alike can appreciate the significance and rarity of these clubs, as they symbolize the heights of sporting achievement. Their worth extends beyond their monetary value, serving as a testament to the enduring legacy of Tiger Woods and his unmatched impact on the world of golf.

8. Babe Ruth Yankees Professional Model Road Jersey (c. 1928-30) - $5,640,000 - June 15, 2019

Hunt Auctions

Once more, Babe Ruth steals the spotlight on our list, this time with a road jersey dating from 1928-30. It's no wonder that the Bambino's legacy on this list mirrors his unforgettable impact on the field during his prime.

With only a handful of Babe Ruth jerseys in existence, this particular piece is a gem from the golden era of his storied career. The grey flannel body features the original "Yankees" team name across the front in blue applied lettering, the Spalding manufacturer's label, and the original linen drawstrings. The evident wear on the jersey, including the vestiges of a numeral "3" on the back, all playing a part in the authenticity of the jersey, and therefore its value.

While some may argue about the precise dating of this jersey, its importance is undeniable. From the 1928 World Series to Babe's 500th Home Run, this jersey represents an era of historic moments and a wealth of home runs; while we cannot say for sure if he had this one on when he smacked the 500th, we also cannot say for sure that he was not wearing it. As one of the most significant sports artifacts ever sold at public auction, it's only fitting that Babe Ruth makes a double appearance on our list. After all, there was, and always will be, only one Babe Ruth.

7. Kobe Bryant ‘MVP’ 2007-2008 Los Angeles Lakers Game Worn & Signed Jersey - $5,849,700 - February 9, 2023

Sotheby's

On April 23, 2008, during Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Denver Nuggets, Kobe scored a crucial 3-pointer, securing a 14-point lead for the Lakers. The photos capturing his celebratory scream have become some of the most iconic images of the legendary athlete. This moment of pure passion inspired artists the world over, leading to the jersey being featured on countless murals and magazine covers. In California alone, over 15 murals showcase Kobe in this jersey, often accompanied by wings, American flags, and snakes (Black Mamba snakes to be specific).

LeBron James wore a t-shirt featuring this jersey during Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals, the series where Lebron would go on to win a ring with Kobe’s former franchise. This jersey has permeated the global popular zeitgeist, becoming synonymous with "The Mamba Mentality."

The jersey was worn by Kobe at the height of his career during his only MVP season, for an impressive 25 games over eight months. It was worn during five preseason games, 14 regular-season games, and six playoff games, with Kobe scoring 645 points in this jersey. This level of long-term, heavy wear is rare in sports memorabilia, as many modern items are worn for just one game. This jersey was the only gold one Kobe wore in the 2008 NBA Playoffs, leading to the 2008 NBA Finals, and marked his first advancement to the NBA Finals since Shaquille O'Neal's departure from the Lakers.

Kobe's global reach transcended basketball, touching the lives of various athletes and influencing entire teams. His unrelenting drive and commitment to excellence has left a mark on sports history, the Mamba mentality continues to inspire generations of fans and athletes.

6. 1970's Muhammad Ali WBC Heavyweight Championship Belt Earned in Victory over George Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle." - $6,180,000 - July 23, 2022

Heritage

This iconic belt, emblematic of Muhammad Ali's astonishing triumph over George Foreman in the unforgettable "Rumble in the Jungle," is likely the most powerful piece of boxing memorabilia in existence. This piece represents Ali's unwavering determination and strength as he reclaimed his title after being stripped of it in 1967 due to his refusal to participate in the Vietnam War draft.

The "Rumble in the Jungle" took place on October 30, 1974, in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The fight was a monumental event, with Ali utilizing his now famous "rope-a-dope" strategy to tire Foreman before delivering a powerful knockout punch in the eighth round. This victory marked the beginning of Ali's reign as the WBC Heavyweight Champion, which lasted until his loss to Leon Spinks four years later.

This WBC Heavyweight Championship belt is one of only two known to exist, with the other residing in a private collection. It features a gold-colored metal central plate with enamel detailing of swirling national flags, which has mostly chipped away over the decades.

The belt's historical significance is immense, as it not only represents Ali's exceptional athletic achievement but also his relentless pursuit of justice, and his unwavering stance on race, religion, and peace. This invaluable artifact of the American experience is a testament to the impact of one of the most consequential lives in not only sports history, but American history as well.

5. Set of 6 Lionel Messi 2022 FIFA World Cup Match Worn Shirts - $7,803,000 - December 14, 2023 - Sotheby's
Sotheby's

History wasn't just written in the 2022 World Cup final, it was worn. Six Lionel Messi jerseys, each donned for a first half during Argentina's triumphant run, transcended mere sportswear at a Sotheby's auction. These weren't just fabrics; they were threads woven into the narrative of Argentina's title defense. From the group stage opener to the iconic clash with France, each shirt embodied Messi's magic, the team's resilience, and ultimately, their glorious victory.

4. The Dynasty Collection - $8,032,800 - February 2, 2024

The Dynasty Collection is a set of 6 individual Air Jordan sneakers – each one worn by Michael Jordan in the clinching games of his 6 career NBA championships. The set consists of an Air Jordan VI (1991), Air Jordan VII (1992), Air Jordan VIII (1993), Air Jordan XI (1996), Air Jordan XII (1997), and Air Jordan XIV (1998).

3. Original Olympic Manifesto - $8,806,500 - December 18, 2019

Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat, delivered a speech in 1892 putting forth his vision for the revival of the ancient Olympic games. Coubertin argued that new ideas, technologies, and systems were driving human progress and innovation to unprecedented heights. And that transforming athletics from a strictly military pursuit to one of individual excellence would benefit both athlete and society as a whole.

Two years after giving the speech, Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee, and the modern Olympic Games debuted in Athens in 1896. In his manifesto, Coubertin highlighted the power of international competition in bringing people together, overcoming differences, and fostering democracy. The Olympics have persisted through two world wars and countless other far-reaching conflicts—so it would seem that Pierre was onto something.

The sale of the original 1892 manuscript over 100 years since its delivery, crystallizes Coubertin’s vision. Representing the enduring belief that sporting is one of the few ways we have to embrace our shared humanity.

2. Diego Maradona ‘The Hand of God’ & ‘Goal of the Century’ World Cup Match Worn Shirt - $8,937,982 ($9.28mm reported by Sotheby's) - May 4, 2022

Sotheby's

In the world of soccer, few names carry the same reverence as Diego Maradona, and it is no surprise that a jersey worn by the Argentine during the 1986 World Cup Quarterfinals would be the first soccer-related item to appear on this list. Maradona's impact on the game and sports more broadly is undeniable, with his extraordinary skill, creativity, and passion for the game inspiring generations of fans and players alike.

During the 1986 World Cup, Maradona's performance in the match between Argentina and England transcended the game itself, becoming a symbol of national pride and a moment of catharsis following the bitter conflict between the two countries in the Falkland Islands War just a few years prior. Maradona scored two of the most memorable goals in soccer history during that match: "The Hand of God" and the "Goal of the Century." The latter was even voted as the greatest goal of all time in a 2002 FIFA poll.

The journey of Maradona's historic jersey into the hands of its consignor, England midfielder Steve Hodge, is a testament to the mutual respect between both players. Following the match, Hodge, who had inadvertently set up Maradona's "Hand of God" goal, took the opportunity to ask for a shirt swap. Initially thinking it was a lost cause due to Maradona being mobbed by teammates directly after the game, Hodge unexpectedly encountered Maradona again outside his locker room. Since they did not have a tongue in common, Hodges simply gave his own shirt a tug to signal interest in the swap, leading to the legendary exchange.

1. Michael Jordan 1998 NBA Finals ‘The Last Dance’ Game Worn Jersey | Game 1 - $10,091,000 - September 15, 2022

Sotheby's

The "Last Dance" season of Michael Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals remains an unforgettable moment in sports history, as it captivated viewers worldwide when the Bulls faced a hostile Utah crowd on June 3rd, 1998. The atmosphere was so fraught that Jordan did not allow his own children to attend the game. Michael was calm as ever though, grooving out on the bus before the storied game.

The 1998 NBA Finals marked Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls, which is fondly remembered as "The Last Dance." This period in Jordan's career is celebrated as the pinnacle of his athletic performance and the culmination of his team's legendary achievements. The 1998 NBA Finals also showcased Jordan's unassailable competitive spirit, as he led the Bulls to their sixth NBA Championship and earned his sixth Finals MVP award.

Jordan's iconic red away jersey from Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals is a highly sought-after artifact, a symbol of his 6 championships with the storied franchise. Collectors and enthusiasts alike recognize the immense significance and rarity of this piece, making it a prized possession for anyone fortunate enough to acquire it.

The sale of this jersey not only reflects the enduring impact of Michael Jordan's achievements but also highlights the reverence that fans worldwide continue to hold for the greatest of all time.

What are the most expensive sales outside of auction houses?

  • 1950 Jackie Robinson Jersey- $4,200,000 - August, 2021

In August of 2021 Hunt Auctions sold this jersey in a private sale for a price of more than $4.2 million. Our list is comprised only of public auction records, so it was not included here; if it had it would have occupied the 9th spot. The private market for sports memorabilia is robust and facilitates many transactions at the high end of the market. We thought it better for our list to only be made up of prices that are publicly backed.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

What are the Most Expensive Sports Cards of All Time?
Records

What are the Most Expensive Sports Cards of All Time?

By 
Altan Insights

We compiled the all-time auction price records for sports cards as of February 15th, 2024. Be sure to check back as we update the list as new records are set!

What are the most expensive sports cards ever sold at auction?

12. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA Mint 9. - $2,880,000.00 - April 19, 2018

Heritage

The ’52 Topps Mickey Mantle card is the crown jewel of the Post-War era; it features a striking portrait of the player pensively looking into the distance. It is not the oldest card and it does not depict a player that regularly finds himself coming out on top of G.O.A.T. arguments—so why is it that this card receives so much love? The beautiful profile showing off Mantle’s Hollywood looks, the sky-blue background, the star of the best team in baseball, and a little mishap at Topps that found these cards at the bottom of the Hudson (allegedly) seriously deflating their supply. All factors in the value of cards like this one.

This example is one of the six highest graded copies among the 1,500 submissions PSA has graded—only three of which were graded higher. Only the highest quality and best maintained cards from this era will fetch such prices. At a PSA 9, this card cannot get much better.

11. 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady ROOKIE RC PSA/DNA 10 AUTO #144 PSA 10 GEM MINT - $2,880,000.00 - August 21, 2021

PWCC

Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft and spent his rookie season as a second-string quarterback under Drew Bledsoe. Despite this inauspicious start, he went on to become the greatest player in NFL history and is considered by many to be the best draft pick of all time. Throughout his illustrious 20-year career, he won seven Super Bowls and numerous MVP awards (5x SB and 3x regular season, but who is counting). His 2000 Panini Contenders Autograph rookie card is regarded as one of the great objects in the hobby, a symbol of his unparalleled career and status as a living legend.

This card, an extremely rare PSA 10 Auto 10, is one of two like graded examples in the world. Out of the more than 500 graded copies of Tom Brady’s rookie card it does not get better than this one.

10. 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket #144 Tom Brady Rookie Autograph (8/100) BGS MINT 9 - Auto 10 - $3,107,372.00 - June 4, 2021

Lelands

He was bound to appear again in this list, but so quickly? There is a joke in here somewhere about TB12’s double retirement, but we will leave that be for now.

Sold just months prior to the above Tom Brady card, this example received a full grade less from Beckett Grading Services (BGS) instead of PSA. Even when considering those marks against it, the card sold for $200,000 more! Likely explained by the sports card fervor that was striking the market at the time. It still illustrates that type of the demand that exists for uber-high-quality rookie cards for the G.O.A.T.

9. 2018 National Treasures Luka Doncic ROOKIE NBA LOGOMAN PATCH AUTO 1/1 #127 BGS 9 - $3,120,000.00 - November 17, 2022

PWCC

The lone basketball player on the list, Luka Doncic has garnered more praise in the first few years of his career than nearly any player before. It did not take long for Luka to display his basketball skill—averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in his rookie season. He was voted rookie of the year and has only gone on to exceed expectations in the following seasons. He is performing at the highest level in all aspects of the game. Evidenced by his current 10th all-time ranking in number of triple-doubles. As a 23-year old.

The amount of hype for Doncic is surely baked into the price of this card, but aside from his accomplishments on the court this piece has significant appeal from a rarity and aesthetics perspective. Firstly, it is a 1/1, there is not another like this card. Signed by the player, but also displaying the coveted “Logoman”. Graded a BGS 9, the card is made even more valuable by the quality of its printing. It is beautifully centered—a perfect 10 in the sub-category. It isn’t perfect, but its one-of-a-kind nature propels its value well past the standard price another BGS 9 card would fetch.

8. 1909-11 T206 White Border Honus Wagner - PSA EX 5 (MC) - $3,120,000.00 - October 1, 2016

Goldin

Printed between 1909 and 1911, the T206 series is among the most celebrated sets in the hobby. Still recognized names like Ty Cobb and Cy Young populate the list of players represented in the set. Wagner’s card carries quite some more weight due to the story behind it. During the production run the player refused to allow production of the card; some argue it was due to his being against children buying cigarette packs, others claim it was due to Wagner wanting more compensation from the American Tobacco Company. Either way the effect it had on supply is quite noticeable when compared to the other cards in the set.

This example is the most impressive T206 Honus Wagner card known to grading firms. At SGC 5, it is far from perfect. The portrait of the player does happen to be in great condition. An image from more than 100 years ago being this sharp is a testament to the quality of collector this card has had over its life.  The remaining factors of the card are of below-average quality: corners are frayed and beat up, the centering is nowhere close to 50/50, and the edges are uneven at best. Although compared to similar era cards, you will not find much better than this.

7. 1909-1911 T206 Sweet Caporal Honus Wagner PSA 1 Charlie Sheen All-Star Cafe Card - $3,136,500.00 - March 31, 2022

Mile High

Same card as above, with a lower grade—so how does it sell for more? Two things: A great story about one of our nation’s great sitcom stars and about six years’ worth of time and appreciation.

Charlie Sheen may be remembered now more for his time on Two and a Half Men or maybe for one of his many off-screen…antics? Moving past that for now, Sheen was on what can only be described as a hot streak in the late 80s; appearing in high-grossing films like Platoon, Wall Street, and Major League. He parlayed these Hollywood pay-checks into a number of pieces of classic cardboard.

This T206 Honus Wagner was one such piece of cardboard, he purchased it for $225,000 and proceeded to loan it to a newly opened Times Square Sports Bar (novel idea, we know). The bar displayed several pieces of sports memorabilia—this card being the most valuable among them. Employees of the aptly named “All-Star Café” conspired to steal the card and replace it with a fake. They sold the real card for a paltry $18,000. After a few flips in the following years, it finally ended up on the auction block at Mile High placing it firmly in the top ten sales between two other T206 Honus Wagners.

6. 1909-11 T206 White Border Honus Wagner – A "Fresh to the Hobby" Example – PSA GD 2 - $3,660,000.00 - May 22, 2021

Goldin

Another T206 Honus, but this copy is graded just barely higher at PSA GD 2. The fact that Wagner cards still exist after being printed over 120 years ago is something to behold. Among the forty or so that exist this card received a higher grade than half of them. It really says something about the scarcity of this card when grades like 1 and 2 are seen topping the price charts.

5. 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP89 Mike Trout (Superfractors) Signed Rookie Card (#1/1) – BGS MINT 9/BGS 10 - $3,840,000.00 - August 23, 2020

Goldin

Mike Trout’s superlative individual career coincides with a beautiful, BGS MINT 9 graded, one of one card from his 2009 rookie year to make for one of the most valuable cards in history. Most baseball cards on this list are of players who made their debut 100+ years ago—this one is of one who is still playing right now, so what gives?

Older baseball cards are valuable for similar reasons to this one, namely rarity. Although when it comes to T206 Wagner cards, there are approximately 50 of them. When it comes to this Trout card, there is only one.

Not to mention the fact that this card is beautiful. Graded a BGS 9 with a 10 for Trout’s autograph, it did not receive a subgrade in any category below 9. Not only was this the only card of its kind made, it was also produced and maintained with extreme care. Leading to this extreme valuation.

4. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 SGC Mint 9 - $4,500,000 - August 19, 2023

Heritage Auctions

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311, graded SGC Mint 9, emerges from the historical "Rosen Find," mirroring its counterpart that shattered records with a $12.6 million sale, setting a precedent in sports memorabilia. This card, a near twin to the previously mentioned benchmark, stands as a testament to the exceptional quality unearthed in a once-in-a-lifetime discovery of 1952 Topps Series Three deadstock, attributed to Al Rosen, a pioneering figure in the collectibles arena known as "Mr. Mint." This discovery not only cemented Rosen's legacy but also introduced to the market a collection of world-class cards in unparalleled condition.

3. 1909-1911 T206 White Border Honus Wagner SGC VG 3 - $6,606,296.00 - August 15, 2021

REA

Ahh! Back to our boy Honus! What else to say about this card. As you can tell when ever even relatively low graded T206 Wagner’s come up for sale they exhibit extreme demand. This card graded an SGC VG 3 is among the best of the best. Only four such examples can be found graded higher.

Even without knowing the grade, the naked-eye is all that is needed to witness the quality of this example. The portrait of Honus is only interrupted by a few small imperfections and the card is centered extremely well for a T206. The corners and edges are definitely worse for wear, but when considering the over 120-year-age of the piece, collectors have been known to be forgiving.

2. 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth SGC VG 3 - $7,200,000 - December 4, 2023

REA

The Babe Ruth rookie card from the Baltimore News, recently sold for a staggering $7.2 million, encapsulates the essence of baseball's golden age. With only ten known examples in existence, this rare artifact not only symbolizes Ruth's early days as a Baltimore Orioles pitcher but also serves as a testament to his enduring legacy. The record-breaking sale reaffirms Ruth's unparalleled status and cements the card's position as one of the most significant and coveted in the history of sports memorabilia.

1. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 SGC Mint+ 9.5 - $12,600,000.00 - August 27, 2022

Heritage

It is only fitting that the first and last on the list are of the ’52 Topps Mickey Mantle #311. This example received a half grade higher than the copy in the tenth spot, but almost a $10 million premium over it in price. I won’t regale you with details of Mantle’s illustrious career with the Yankees or with how supply of these cards is limited due to a print run of them being supposedly dumped into the Hudson. This card has somehow an even more interesting story than the average ’52 Mantle.

The Rosen Find” is a bit of hobby lore that is the stuff of dreams for enterprising dealers and collectors. Hobby pioneer Al Rosen—self-proclaimed “Mr.Mint”—received a call from a Boston man claiming to have a collection of high-numbered 1952 Topps cards. The story was that his father was a delivery driver for Topps and when the distribution of these cards was axed, they ended up sitting in his basement for the next 31 years.

When Rosen went to go see the cards a week later he stumbled into what might be the best score in the history of the hobby. Seventy-Five Mickey Mantle #311 cards. This example was then sold off to Anthony Giordano for $50,000 in 1991. Implying an eye-popping 19.53% CAGR before fees.

Although there are three PSA GEM-MT 10 graded copies of the card, they have never shown up at auction. It is impossible to say if they ever will, or if their quality is noticeable better than this one. When it comes to ones that have come to auction, it does not get any better than “The Rosen Find”.

What are the most expensive, known private sales?

  • “1909-1911 T206 White Border Honus Wagner SGC 2”- $7,250,000

This card was sold in a deal brokered by Goldin in August of 2022. A year after the SGC VG 3 copy was sold for $6,606,296 in August of 2021. Demand for T206 Honus cards borders on the incomprehensible. Just the rarity of the card is enough to propel its record to new heights. High grades relative to the population alter the valuation, but when it comes to Honus it seems that collectors are buying the card as opposed to buying the grade.

  • “1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA 9” - $5,200,000

January of 2021 found this copy in a sale brokered by PWCC. Thecopy is one of 6 examples graded PSA 9 (out of a total 1,897) and is one of the most beautiful examples of the golden age icon.

  • “1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 PSA 9” - $5,200,000

January of 2021 found this copy in a sale brokered by PWCC. Thecopy is one of 6 examples graded PSA 9 (out of a total 1,897) and is one of the most beautiful examples of the golden age icon.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

Wata vs. VGA vs. CGC: Which Video Game Grader is Best?
Guides & How-Tos

Wata vs. VGA vs. CGC: Which Video Game Grading Company is Best?

By 

Graded video game collecting has surged in popularity over the last few years. While maybe not at the frenzied, fever pitch of mid-2021, the category is still cultivating interest from collectors old and new. Given the increase in popularity, more parties are pursuing the business of video game grading. Today, there are three main competitors in the space: Wata Games, VGA, and CGC. By exploring the attributes of each service, we'll set out to answer a few key questions:

What are the differences between Wata, VGA, and CGC?

What are the key considerations in choosing a video game grader?

Which video game grader is best (for you): Wata, VGA, or CGC?

Okay, let's start with a little background on each.

History

Wata

Wata Games was founded just a few years ago in 2018, with Wata-graded games quickly finding their way to the auction block at Heritage Auctions (controversially, some allege). With the explosion in popularity of video game collecting and the headline six and seven-figure sales, video game grading became a sought-after service. In 2021, Collectors (which owns card grading company PSA) acquired Wata. Over the course of the past few years, the company has begun grading games from more modern systems, while also refining population reports, game holders, and branding.

VGA

VGA is a part of Collectibles Grading Authority (CGA), which was founded back in 2000 and also features toy grader AFA. The company expanded into video games in 2008, making it the longest tenured player in the space. In late 2021, CGA was acquired by Diamond Comic Distributors. Since then, the company’s website - a common pain point for collectors - has been rebranded and modernized.

CGC

CGC was founded way back in 2000 to grade comic books. It’s part of a broader business - Certified Collectibles Group - which features grading companies in coins, paper money, stamps, sports cards, and more. Since its founding, CGC has built a dominant position in comic books, operating essentially unchallenged - almost every high value sale has featured a comic book in a CGC slab. As other pop culture collectibles have grown in popularity, CGC has expanded its services to grade more items like trading cards and, yes, video games. The video game expansion was announced in mid-2021 and officially launched in late 2022, with CGC-graded games only recently finding their way to auction. 

Team & Expertise

Wata

Wata recently had turnover in the Chief Grader role (more on that in a moment), elevating Andrew Shelton from the role of Grading Finalizer to the top job. The company was co-founded by Deniz Khan who now serves as President. Khan is a prominent collector and figure in the category, though recent accusations have made him somewhat of a lightning rod for industry controversy. Whether the company can benefit from grading best practices at fellow Collectors company PSA remains to be seen. 

VGA

After the recent acquisition and website re-launch, little is publicly shared about the composition of the team, its experience, and its expertise. That’s not to suggest that VGA is necessarily lacking in this department, being the longest tenured provider in the space, but those details are not publicly available at present. The lack of public visibility, though, has been a common complaint in the past.

CGC

CGC tabbed Matt McClellan to lead CGC Video Games. McClellan was tasked with hiring, establishing grading standards, and developing a holder. Prior to CGC, he operated an independent video game store, where he built his expertise in authentication and his collection. As of February 2023, the company also counts Kenneth Thrower as a Grading Finalizer; Thrower was a Co-Founder and Chief Grader at Wata, and according to his LinkedIn, created the company’s grading scale and grading standards. Finally, Grading Finalizer Jason Brassard also boasts 20 years of experience as an independent video game store operator.

Grading Scales

Wata

Wata utilizes a 10 point scale that goes up in increments of 0.5 points from 0 to 9 and then in increments of 0.2 from 9 to 10. Handily, Wata provides photographs of boxes, carts, and manuals that would meet the criteria of each score, though it doesn’t define the criteria of each grade. 

Graphic: Wata

Seals are graded from A++ to C, with A+, A, B+, B, and C+ in between. Here’s how each is described:

  • A++. Like new condition - A seal that is in new or very near to perfect condition. In the condition as it was when it left the factory, this is the best condition one would hope to see in a seal. Only displays the lightest of factory processing marks, if any. Often described as “Case Fresh.”
  • A+. Exceptional condition - A seal that is in near mint condition, but has a few small flaws that are not very distracting. Can have light scuffs or other small detracting marks, but no holes
  • A. Above average condition - A seal that exhibits some light to medium scuffing or other detracting marks, as well as no more than a few miniscule holes, usually seen at the corner edges.
  • B+. Average condition - A seal that shows standard signs of wear including medium to large scuffs and small holes. Very small holes usually seen as the corner edges, or 1-2 larger holes may be seen. Scuffs are medium and covering a majority of the front and/or back.
  • B. Below Average condition - A seal that shows more wear than average. Scuffs are medium to heavy covering a majority of the front and/or back. Holes may be present, from small to medium size.
  • C+. Fair condition - A seal that shows a single major detraction or heavy wear overall. Often characterized by a large sized hole caused by a removed sticker or plastic hang tab. Scuffing is generally heavy when present. Seal may show signs of looseness.
  • C. Poor condition - A seal that has obvious signs of serious distress overall, or one very large flaw or missing piece. Often with multiple breaks and large holes, looseness, with pieces hanging off. This is the worst condition one could expect to see on a game seal that still qualifies as “sealed.”

VGA

VGA’s website currently appears to display a grading scale that only relates primarily to AFA. However, the “Standard” scale is what has been utilized for VGA games in the past. Unlike the other two, it’s a 100 point scale, increasing in increments of 10 from 10 to 70 and in increments of 5 from 70 to 100. At each step of the way from 70 to 100, there are also “+” grades, an “85+” for example, which is a higher grade than an “85”. Additionally unlike the other two, there is no separate grade for seals, with it incorporated in the single number.

Graphic: CGA

Grades from 85+ and up are considered to be in the “Gold Level”, meaning they have only the smallest of flaws, which are very minor and difficult to discern with the naked eye. Below that, from 75 through 85, is the “Silver Level”, which plays host to a much larger number of submissions. Items in that tier are described as follows:

The highest grade within this level, an 85, could most often be described as being near ‘case fresh’, with the lowest grade within this level, a 75, being somewhat ‘shelf worn’ but still relatively nice.   As a general rule, an item which receives the grade of 85 is a fantastic display piece and can often be right on the edge of Gold level condition. The term ‘case fresh’ is certainly justifiable, as the average item pulled from a sealed case would grade an 85 due to small flaws which occur when items are packaged or shipped from the factory. An item which receives the grade of 80 represents a nice example with minor to moderate flaws apparent upon close inspection. As a generalization, the average item which has spent time on a store shelf being moved around prior to purchase, but has otherwise been handled with relative care over the years may score an 80. The lowest Silver level grade is a 75 which represents an item with significant flaws which are much more evident than flaws visible on items which receive higher Silver level grades.

Below that, you enter the “Bronze Level” of grading, where major flaws are present and instantly recognizable, with differing degrees of severity.

CGC
Graphic: CGC

CGC’s grading scale looks fairly similar to Wata’s, with a few differences. It’s a 10 point scale, but it rises in increments of 1 point from 0 to 5. From 5 to 9, it rises in increments of 0.5 points. From 9 to 10, it also rises in increments of 0.2 points, but it makes the additional inclusion of a 9.9. Here are some of CGC’s descriptions for a few grades:

  • CGC 10 is the highest grade assigned. The game must have no evidence of any manufacturing or handling defects.
  • A CGC 9.8 is a nearly perfect game with negligible handling or manufacturing defects.
  • At CGC 9.0, the game is very well-preserved with good eye appeal, but there will be a number of minor handling and/or manufacturing defects.
  • At CGC 7.0, the game is above average with a major defect or an accumulation of small defects.
  • At CGC 5.0, the game is average with several moderate defects.
  • At CGC 1.0, the game is very poorly handled with a heavy accumulation of major defects.

Seal grades fluctuate from A++ to C as well, with A+, A, B+, B, and C+ in between. Here’s how each is described:

  • An A++ is a nearly perfect original seal with negligible handling or manufacturing defects.
  • An A+ is a very well-preserved seal with good eye appeal. There will be several minor handling and/or manufacturing defects.
  • An A is an above-average original seal with a single defect or an accumulation of small defects.
  • A B+ is an average original seal with a major defect or an accumulation of moderate defects.
  • A B is an original seal that shows significant evidence of handling with several moderate-to-major defects.
  • A C+ is an original seal that shows significant evidence of handling with several major defects.
  • A C is a heavily defaced original seal with several major defects. Some pieces will also be missing.
Graphic: CGC

Cost & Turnaround Time

For example’s sake, across this discussion, let’s assume we have a sealed copy of Super Mario 64, and we’ll see how the estimated value impacts pricing at each provider.

Wata

For an estimated value $1,000 or less, Wata’s “Turbo” service will set you back $39 for a 60 business day or less turnaround. Move that turnaround time down to 20 days for “Speed-Run” service, and the cost is $85. If you’re really in a hurry, a 5 business day turnaround via the “Warp-Zone” service will cost $175. Each of these costs moves up as your declared value increases. Games above $2,500 are charged an additional 2% of their declared value. For example, at a declared value of $3,000, the costs are $99, $145, and $235 respectively. 

There are also a host of add-on services available, the details of which are in the below graphic. 

Graphic: Wata

VGA

VGA’s premium game submission service, offering a 75 day turnaround time for items valued under $5,000, costs $90 - more expensive than either competitor at lower values but increasingly competitive as costs go up. For example, a $1,000 game would cost that $90 fee, more than double the competition. A $3,000 game would still cost just $90 though, which is below the other services. 

Submittors could also elect the more expensive Archival service, which turns around in 30 days. This is also the service tier for games valued at over $5,000. At values less than $5,000, Archival costs $125. That’s more costly for lower valued games than Wata’s Speed-Run service, and as we’ll discuss, a quick turnaround at CGC is vastly less expensive at the moment. A $6,000 game would cost $150 (2.5% of value). 

Customers can add a Grading Summary for $25 or Cleaning for $10.

Finally, recasing for items under $400 costs $24 and turns around in 45 days. For items over $400, the fee is $35 and the turnaround is 30 days. 

CGC

Right off the bat, CGC chafes by requiring you to subscribe to an annual membership to even begin the submission process. These run from $25 annually to $299 annually, with the latter offering 10% discounts on CGC grading tiers, perhaps ultimately saving heavy submitters some money. 

Standard service starts at a fee of $40 per game but with an impressive 10 working day turnaround. That service covers up to $2,500 in game value. In comparison to Wata, a $1000 game would be $4 more expensive but would turnaround in 50 less days. It would also be cheaper for any game estimated between $1,070 and $2,500 in value, as CGC does not start charging elevated rates until a game is estimated to at a value over $2,500. So, a $2,000 game would be $40 at CGC but $65.67 at Wata.

When the value does cross $2,500 or submitters want a faster turnaround, they’d utilize the WalkThrough service, which turns around in 3 business days at a cost of $150 + 2% of FMV. At an estimated value of $3,000, the cost would be $210. If you’re willing to wait longer, you could submit such a game for $99 for a 60 business day turnaround or $145 for a 20 day turnaround at Wata. A 5 day turnaround would be more expensive at Wata at $235. 

If you want to cross a game over from Wata to CGC, it’ll cost $30 for a game valued below $2,500 (10 business days) or $100  + 1.5% of FMV for a game valued above (3 business days). There are also pedigree and personalization services available at $10 apiece, and reholdering can be done for $25 on games valued lower than $2,500, or $50 on games valued above.

Here’s a table we created to help summarize costs at various prices for each service.

Secondary Market Prominence

Wata

At present, Wata is by far the most prominent grading service seen on games bought and sold in the secondary market. Games graded by Wata have dominated the auction scene (more on that in the scrutiny section). The April Signature Auction at Heritage saw Wata-graded games make up 16 of the top 24 sales and 31 of the top 48. Wata-graded games tend to reign supreme on eBay as well. In the three months ending 6/15, video games with “Wata” in the title/description totaled sales volume of $1.7 million on eBay. Now, it’s important to note for all providers, those eBay volumes don’t necessarily represent sales of games actually graded by each. eBay can be messy, and sellers often list “WATA, CGC, VGA” in a listing whether the item has actually been graded or not, which has some impact on the sales data. 

VGA

VGA has begun to fade a bit on the auction scene after being more prevalent a few years back, as market share has been seeded to Wata and now to CGC as well. It hasn’t totally disappeared by any means, though. At the most recent Heritage Signature Auction in April of 2023, VGA-graded games accounted for 4 of the top 24 games. The company still ranks ahead of CGC in eBay sales volume for the time being at $819k over the last 90 days, which is less than half of the Wata total. 

CGC

CGC-graded video games are of course newer to the space, but they’ve begun to forge their way into the auction world. At the January Signature Video Game Auction at Heritage, a debut party of sorts for the service’s games, CGC games accounted for 27% of total sales at the event, including 4 of the top 10 results. That tapered off a bit in April, with 4 of the top 24 results. Action is picking up on eBay as well, though, where there was $662k in sales volume over the last 90 days ending 6/15.

Population Reports & Data

Wata

Wata was heavily scrutinized for a long time for its failure to provide population reports. Finally, in late 2021, the company released their debut reports, expanding them over time to include additional consoles. Now, its reports are essentially the only ones in the space, and collectors have better access to information on overall game populations and grading distributions. 

VGA

There is no population report available at present. VGA did not have population reports prior to its acquisition, and there isn’t one available afterwards. Notably, AFA - under the same corporate umbrella - used to have population reports prior to the website relaunch but no longer does at the moment.

CGC

No population report available at present. CGC comic books have a census of graded issues, so it may be a matter of building a critical mass of video game submissions before launching population reports.

Scrutiny

Wata

Beginning in the summer of 2021, there have been mounting allegations that Wata has engaged in practices of market manipulation, in addition to alleged undisclosed conflicts of interest surrounding relationships with employees of Heritage Auctions. A lawsuit has been filed against Wata in California on the basis of these allegations, among others. Wata has previously characterized the claims made in a YouTube video on the topic with over 2 million views as “baseless and defamatory”.

VGA

VGA has been subject to similar YouTube-based exposes in the past, with questions raised around the quality of holders, the accuracy of grades, and the lack of customer-facing individuals (as addressed in the expertise section). 

CGC

CGC is of course newer to video games, but as with any grading company, CGC has not been totally immune from criticism in the comic book category. Still, the company for the most part boasts a strong reputation for credibility and professionalism.

Content & References

Wata

In addition to the previously mentioned pop reports, Wata offers a number of guides in its blog section, including guides to variants of various titles and categories, like its NES Black Box Guide. That blog section isn’t the most intuitive to navigate, but there appears to be a wealth of knowledge on offer.

VGA

As might be expected from the rest of our discussion, the new CGA site is pretty light on content and reference guides, but it’s possible the site is also still a work in progress. So we’ll consider this a “to be continued”.

CGC

CGC has gotten off to a good start with content for customers as well. Included on their site is one 130 page reference guide document. It covers common terms, consoles, key titles on each console, variants on each console, and more. It’s a strong starting point for anyone entering the category.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

What are the Most Expensive Sneakers Ever Sold?
Records

What are the Most Expensive Sneakers Ever Sold?

By 

Photo: Mick Haupt

As the sneaker resale and collecting phenomenon converges with rapidly increasing interest in sports memorabilia, sales of rare sneakers have taken to stratospheric prices. We’re talking six and seven-figures near routinely. Over the last few years, the record books have been rewritten almost entirely. What do those most expensive sneaker record books look like today?

First, we’re counting down the ten most expensive sneakers of all-time, whether they’re sports memorabilia items or deadstock pairs. Spoiler: it concentrates more in the former, but stick around, because we’ll get to a non-memorabilia ranking afterwards. 

Alright, let’s lace up and start unboxing the most incredible sneaker grails in existence.

What are the most expensive sneakers of all-time?

10. Michael Jordan Rookie Season Game-Worn and Dual Signed Jordan 1s

Sale Price: $486,000 

Date Sold: 4/9/2022 (Goldin)

Photo: Goldin

What we’re about to say might shock you. Really, hold onto your hats, because your jaw is about to drop. Michael Jordan accounts for the vast, vast majority of this list. We know. Stunning. Here comes another shocker: a lot of them are Jordan 1s.

This particular pair hails from Jordan’s rookie season, as many of them do, with MEARS providing an LOA for game-use and an LOA from ex-Bulls trainer Mark Pfeil, who originally obtained the sneakers before auctioning them for charity previously. The dual signatures are verified by PSA/DNA. The labeling on the inside of the sneaker “850102-TYPS” suggests the sneakers were made in an early run of production in January or February of 1985 at the factory in Tong Yang. “PS” stands for player sample.

9.  1985 Michael Jordan Player Sample Game-Worn Jordan 1s

Sale Price: $560,000

Date Sold: 5/17/2020 (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

The Last Dance premiered on April 19th of 2020. About a month later, another pair of game-worn Jordan 1s came to Sotheby’s, selling for a then-record of $560,000. They were estimated to sell for just $100,000 -$150,000. The right shoe is signed by Jordan, with authentication from PSA/DNA. MEARS authenticated the game-use.

This pair was labeled “850204-TYPS”, meaning that it was manufactured between February and April, a bit after the previous pair in our countdown.

8. 1985 Michael Jordan Game-Worn and Dual Signed Jordan 1s

Sale Price: $615,000

Date Sold: 8/21/2021 (Heritage)

Can you believe it? Three straight Jordan 1s. Believe us, we’re just getting started. This pair has a particularly fun story, though.

Jordan originally signed and gifted this pair to teammate Gene Banks. Years later, Banks gifted them to San Antonio sportscaster Rick Lozano. Jordan’s original signature had begun to fade from the shoes, so when Lozano saw an opportunity, he took it. Before Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals at the Forum against the Lakers (a game that would see Jordan clinch his first title), Lozano interviewed Jordan on camera and asked for him to resign the sneakers. Jordan obliged, boldly signing each toebox and inscribing “1st pair” (a reference to the Jordan 1 being the first model, rather than it being the first specific pair of Jordans he ever wore).

That interaction is captured on video, and the sneakers feature LOA verification from MEARS, Beckett, and PSA/DNA. 

7. 1985 Michael Jordan Game-Worn and Signed “Shattered Backboard” Jordan 1s

Sale Price: $615,000

Date Sold: 8/13/2021 (Christie’s)

Photo: Christie's

The “Shattered Backboard” has become a popular colorway for newly-released Jordan product today, but few know where the orange, black, and white color scheme actually comes from. In August of 1985, Jordan played in an exhibition in Italy, wearing a uniform of that color scheme when he dunked in transition, shattering the backboard into shards of glass sent everywhere. The sneakers he wore in that game, evidenced through clear provenance and photos of Jordan handing them to the consignor, sold at Christie’s in the summer of 2021 for $615,000, which established a record at the time. The dual-signed sneakers even feature glass still embedded in the outsole. 

They were offered for fractional investment on Otis, which was later acquired by Public where they trade today.

6. 1986 Michael Jordan Game-Worn and Signed “Dunk Sole” Jordan 1s

Sale Price: $675,000

Date Sold: 2/26/2022 (Heritage)

Early on in his second season as a pro, Michael Jordan suffered a broken foot, sidelining him for about six months. When he returned, his signature Jordan 1s required modification to better accommodate the injury. One such modification was the use of the sole of a Nike Dunk, which was both softer and wider. 

A pair of those “Dunk Sole” Jordan 1s sold at Heritage in February of 2022, and it was actually photomatched by MeiGray to a specific game against the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the first instance of a traditional photomatch from a reputable provider in our list. The sneakers bear “860304STPS” labeling on the inner collar, indicative of their later production. 

5. 1997 NBA Finals Game 5 "Flu Game" Jordan-Worn and Signed Jordan XIIs

Sale Price: $1,380,000

Date Sold: 6/14/2023 (Goldin)

Photo: Goldin

"The Flu Game" is an iconic moment of Jordan lore, the type that that reverberates in the memories of fans decades later. You hear "Flu Game", and you can instantly picture images of a doubled over Jordan or Jordan leaning on Scottie for support. Despite being horrifically ill, having spent most of the day vomiting, MJ went out and willed himself to 38 points (including 15 in the fourth quarter) and the Bulls to a victory. Jordan gifted his sneakers to a ball boy, as he often did, who held onto them for 15 years before selling for $104,765 in 2013. Not a bad outcome for whoever bought them back in 2013, though they may have been hoping for more - many expected these to sit atop our rankings when the bidding closed. The sneakers were photomatched to the occasion by MeiGray and Sports Investors Authentication.

4. Earliest Known Regular Season Jordan-Worn & Signed Nike Air Ship

Sale Price: $1,472,000

Date Sold: 10/24/2021 (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

As has been well-documented and discussed by the recent Air movie, Nike pitched Michael Jordan on having his very own signature shoe, which of course would be the Air Jordan. It takes quite some time to get a sneaker into production and to the athlete’s foot, though. In the meantime, Jordan wore the Nike Air Ship during his early days with the Bulls. 

This particular pair was gifted to a Denver Nuggets ball boy in just Jordan’s fifth regular season game ever, though there was also some reason to believe they could’ve been used in even earlier games as well. Many of Jordan’s Air Ships were printed with “Air Jordan” or “Nike Air” on the heel. This particular example is printed with just “Air”, an indication that they were among the very earliest. This sale absolutely shattered the record for the most expensive sneaker ever sold, and it maintained the auction record until the spring of 2023.

3. Kanye West Worn Nike Air Yeezy Prototype

Sale Price: $1.8 million

Private Sale (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

We’ll caveat this sale by noting that the transaction was a private sale facilitated by Sotheby’s, making it the only non-auction sale in our list. However, because it was widely publicly known, we opted to include it here.

Before things went even further south with Kanye West, his cultural impact, at the intersection of music and fashion, was undeniable. Yeezy sneakers became a phenomenon, first at Nike and then at Adidas, where they propelled the German sporting giant into a far stronger competitive position here in the United States. In the mid-to-late 2010s, they were the hyped sneakers of the moment. 

Before all of that, Kanye West took to the stage at the 2008 Grammys wearing the Nike Air Yeezy Prototype. The sneaker that preceded an unbelievable journey. That very pair sold for $1.8 million to fractional sneaker investing platform Rares. Rares was unable to fill the massive offering with sufficient investor demand and sought to sell the sneakers privately with Christie’s. However, that choice came just before Ye’s most controversial moments, and Christie’s declined to participate when things went from bad to worse. 

2. 1998 NBA Finals Game 2 Michael Jordan Worn and Signed Jordan XIIIs

Sale Price: $2,238,000

Date Sold: 4/11/2023 (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

Just months after Jordan’s jersey from Game 1 of The Last Dance Finals became the most expensive game-worn sports memorabilia ever sold at $10.1 million, his sneakers from Game 2 became the most expensive sneakers ever sold. Jordan dropped 37 points in a Bulls win before signing his Jordan XIIIs and giving them to a ball boy. The sneakers are photomatched to the occasion by MeiGray. They were estimated to sell for between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000, fetching just one bid to sell for $2,238,000 with fees. Sometimes, all it takes is one bid to execute a sale, and a sale is a sale is a sale. This just happened to be one of the most expensive ever.

1. The Dynasty Collection - One Sneaker from each of Michael Jordan's Six Championship-Clinching Games

Sale Price: $8,032,800

Date Sold: 2/2/2024 (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

With six individual sneakers rather than the two that traditionally come in a pair, it's not really a fair fight, is it? After each NBA Championship-clinching performance, it became tradition for Jordan to gift one of his sneakers to Bulls PR executive Tim Hallam. That tradition birthed one of the most significant collections of sneakers in existence. Despite concerns around decomposition in the midsoles of the Jordan VI and Jordan VIII, as well as the odd, single-shoe nature of the collection, it still managed to sell for over $8 million at Sotheby's. On average, that makes each individual shoe worth $1.3 million. A completed pair of any one of them would no doubt be the most expensive pair ever sold, but few would deny that this collection belongs atop the leaderboard of most expensive sneaker sales.

----------------------------------------

What are the most expensive deadstock sneakers of all-time?

Sneakerheads might look at the above list and conclude that those are basically all more memorabilia item than they are sneaker. Where are the deadstock grails? We’ve got you covered. 

In compiling the list below, we removed any sneakers from consideration if their value was based more on that specific pair’s association with an athlete or individual than on the sneaker itself. So, Jordan branded sneakers aren’t excluded, but they are if it’s a pair that was specifically worn by or made for MJ. 

Just as the above list was almost entirely Michael Jordan-centric, this list lacks variety as well. Let’s get into it, you’ll see what we mean.

10. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

Back in February of 2022, Sotheby’s conducted a special event, auctioning 200 pairs of Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1s, created by the late designer Virgil Abloh. Proceeds were directed to the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, an organization that aims to foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarships to academically promising students of Black, African American, or African descent.

Before his passing in November of 2021, Abloh had designed the sneakers for the Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2022 collection. Abloh’s impact on sneakers and fashion was immense, from his Off-White brand and its highly-coveted collaborations with Nike to his time as artistic director at Louis Vuitton. When these special Air Force 1s, clad in the signature Louis Vuitton monogram print, came to auction at Sotheby’s, the reception was astounding. 

Each pair was estimated to sell for between $5,000 and $15,000. That turned out to be just a bit conservative.

All 200 pairs sold….at an average price of $126,662, generating over $25 million in total sales. When this auction took place, there were likely no more than 5-10 six-figure deadstock sneaker auction sales in history. This auction alone saw 162 pairs sell for six-figure sums. Again, it was a rarity for any sneaker to cross $100,000. On that day in February 2022, despite there being 200 identical pairs available, 162 still made it into six-figure territory. Usually, a sneaker would have to be a 1-of-1 or close to it to achieve those heights. Not the case here.

So, as we move down the list, understand that these are not typos or duplicates, but individual sales at these prices. We acknowledge that it makes for a somewhat boring ranking, but the reality is that the power of this sale is undeniable. These sneakers comprise every slot from #10 to #2, and you could argue #1 is a judgment call, but we’ll get there momentarily.

9. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

8. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

7. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

6. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

5. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

4. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $189,000

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

3. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $201,600

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

2. Nike x Louis Vuitton Air Force 1 & Pilot Case

Sale Price: $352,800

Date Sold: 2/9/2022 (Sotheby’s)

1. Nike Waffle Racing Flat

Sale Price: $437,500

Date Sold: 7/23/2019 (Sotheby’s)

Photo: Sotheby's

Look, you could certainly make the case that these are more memorabilia than they are sneaker, and we wouldn’t take you to task for it, but hear us out. This particular pair was in unworn, deadstock condition. While the model was made for athletes at the 1972 Olympic Trials, there is no association here to a specific athlete, and the value isn’t derived from such an association. Now, its value is derived from the fact that it’s a premier piece of early Nike history, but exclusion on those grounds is a slippery slope. It’s often the case that a sneaker model is valuable because it marked a specific cultural moment or innovation for a brand, most often Nike. You wouldn’t exclude original retail releases of the 1985 Jordan 1. Nor would you exclude player editions, friends & family editions, or samples. Should the early and highly limited nature of the Moon Shoes alone merit exclusion? Again, up for debate, but we say no. Isn’t it fitting that some of the earliest Nikes produced sit atop the leaderboard? 

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

Comic Book Grading: Understanding the Basics and Labels
FAQs

Comic Book Grading: Understanding the Basics and Labels

By 
Keenan Flack

As the market for alternative investments continues to expand, comic books have emerged as one of the premier asset classes among collectors and investors. Understanding the grading process and the labels applied to comic books is a critical step for anyone looking to navigate this market. In this article, we'll explore the basics of comic book grading, including the differences between grading agencies, how each label is valued, and what determines which label is applied to a comic book.

The Grading Process

Comic book grading is the process of evaluating a comic book's condition based on a standardized set of criteria. The grading process takes into account factors such as the condition of the cover, the pages, the binding, and the overall appearance of the book. A higher grade indicates a comic book in better condition, while a lower grade signifies more wear and tear. CGC’s grading rubric goes from a familiar Gem Mint 10 to a 0.5 Poor. It describes a 10 as “The highest grade assigned. The collectible must have no evidence of any manufacturing or handling defects.”, whereas the description reads 0.5 “A heavily defaced collectible with a number of major defects. Some pieces will also be missing.”.

Grading is conducted by professional grading companies, and the two most well-known grading agencies in the industry are the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) and the Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS). Both companies utilize similar grading scales, but there are subtle differences in their methodologies that collectors and investors should be aware of.

Labels and Their Significance

Once a comic book is graded, it is encapsulated in a protective plastic case or a “slab”, and a label is attached to the case to display the grade and other relevant information. The label, commonly referred to as a "slab," serves as a certificate of authenticity and a way to easily identify the grade of the book.

There are different types of labels used by grading agencies, and each label carries its own significance:

Universal (Blue) Label: The most common label used by grading companies, the Universal Label indicates that the comic book is an original and unaltered copy. It is applied to comic books in any condition, from "Mint" to "Poor."

CGC

Signature Series (Yellow) Label: A special label applied to comic books that have been autographed by a creator or contributor and have been authenticated by the grading agency. Signature Series labels often carry a premium in the market due to their unique nature.

CGC

Qualified (Green) Label: The label applied to books with a  “significant defect” that needs further description. Usually, meaning a missing page or marking on the book. May also denote an unauthenticated signature, meaning one that was not supervised by the grading firm.

CGC

Restored (Purple) Label: This label is applied to comic books that have undergone restoration or conservation efforts to improve their appearance or condition. Restored comic books are valued differently from unaltered copies, as restoration can affect the book's long-term value.

CGC

Pedigree (Gold) Label: A label applied to books that come from a collection of great significance. CGC has a list of these 61 “Pedigree Comic Book Collections” that books might potentially belong/have belonged to. Collectible valuations are somewhat dependent on ownership history, also called provenance, so knowing the origin of a book has the potential to alter the value significantly.

CGC

The Value of Grading

Comic book grading provides several benefits to collectors and investors. A graded comic book offers a level of transparency and authenticity that is critical in the market. Grading also helps standardize the condition of comic books, allowing for easier comparison between copies and more accurate price determination.

Additionally, the grade of a comic book can significantly impact its market value. Higher-graded comic books often command higher prices, while lower-graded copies may be more affordable. Ultimately, the grade of a comic book is just one of many factors to consider when making an investment decision.

Deciphering Comic Book Population Reports

Population reports are distributed by grading firms to give collectors a snapshot of their graded population of books at a point in time. Knowing the distribution of grades received by a population of a specific book is very valuable information for collectors.

​By carefully analyzing population reports, collectors can gain valuable insights into the rarity of specific comic books and make informed decisions when buying, selling, or trading. Whether looking for a hidden gem or seeking to understand the relative value of an asset, population reports serve as an essential tool for navigating the ever-evolving world of comic book collecting and investing.

Conclusion

Comic book grading is an essential component of the alternative investment landscape. Understanding the grading process and the significance of different labels can help collectors and investors make more informed decisions as they navigate the exciting world of comic book investing.

Photo Credit: Erik Mclean-Unsplash

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

A Beginner's Guide to Rare Books: Investing and Collecting
FAQs

A Beginner's Guide to Rare Books: Investing and Collecting

By 
Keenan Flack

As the world of alternative assets continues to thrive, rare books stand out as one of the oldest and most enduring forms of collectibles. With their rich history, cultural significance, and potential for appreciation, rare books offer a unique and rewarding investment opportunity for both seasoned collectors and newcomers alike. In this guide, we'll delve into the world of rare book collecting and investing, exploring the key factors to consider and the steps to get started.

The Timeless Allure of Rare Books

Rare books are among the oldest form of collectibles, with a history that spans centuries. Esteemed auction houses, such as Sotheby's and Christie's, both had their origins as book auction houses, a testament to the lasting appeal of rare books.

The allure of rare books lies in their ability to transport readers to different worlds and eras, while also serving as tangible connections to the past. Whether it's a first edition of a literary classic, an illuminated manuscript, or a signed copy of a beloved author's work, rare books are cherished for their historical and artistic value.

Factors That Influence Rarity and Value

When it comes to investing in and collecting rare books, several factors can influence a book's rarity and value:

  1. Edition and Printing: First editions and early printings are often highly sought after by collectors, especially when they represent the initial appearance of a significant literary work.
  2. Condition: The condition of a book plays a critical role in determining its value. Books that are well-preserved, with intact bindings and clean pages, are more likely to command higher prices.
  3. Provenance: A book's provenance, or ownership history, can add to its desirability. Books with notable previous owners or interesting histories have the potential to be more valuable.
  4. Significance: Literary significance, cultural impact, and historical importance can all contribute to a book's value. Works that have left a lasting mark on literature or society are often prized by collectors.
  5. Scarcity: The rarity of a book, based on the number of copies printed or surviving, is a key factor in its value. Books that are scarce or difficult to find are typically more valuable.
  6. Author's Signature: Signed copies or inscribed books can enhance the value of a rare book, especially when the signature or inscription is authenticated.

Starting Your Journey in Rare Book Collecting

Entering the world of rare book collecting can be both exciting and daunting. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Educate Yourself: Take the time to learn about the world of rare books, including terminology, grading standards, and key authors and genres.
  2. Define Your Interests: Consider what types of books appeal to you. Some collectors focus on specific authors, genres, time periods, or themes. The more you learn about a specific grouping the better equipped you will be to obtain books at or below fair value.
  3. Research and Verify: Before making a purchase, conduct thorough research to verify the authenticity and condition of the book. Seek out reputable dealers and auction houses.
  4. Budget and Plan: Set a budget for your rare book collecting and plan your purchases accordingly. Keep in mind that rare book collecting, as with all collectibles,  should be a long-term endeavor; patience is key here.
  5. Preserve and Protect: Properly store and care for your rare books to preserve their condition. Consider factors such as humidity, light exposure, and handling.

Rare book collecting is a journey of discovery and appreciation, offering the opportunity to connect with history, culture, and the written word. Whether you're an avid reader, a literary enthusiast, or an investor seeking alternative assets, rare books provide a unique and enrich

Photo Credit: Unsplash -- Natalia Y.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

What is PhotoMatching?
FAQs

What is Photomatching?

By 
Keenan Flack

What is photomatching?

Photomatching is a process used to verify the authenticity of sports memorabilia, particularly game-worn jerseys and equipment, by comparing them to photographs taken during games or events. The goal of photomatching is to determine whether a particular item was actually used by an athlete during a specific game or event.

How does photomatching work?

Photomatching involves analyzing high-resolution photographs from games or events to identify unique characteristics or markings on a piece of memorabilia. These unique features can include stains, stitching patterns, wear marks, and other identifiable details. By matching these features to those seen in the photographs, it's possible to confirm that the item was worn or used by the athlete in question during that specific event.

credit: Resolution Photomatching

Why is photomatching important?

Photomatching is an essential tool for verifying the authenticity of sports memorabilia. It helps collectors and investors determine whether an item is genuine and was actually used by an athlete during a game or event. This verification adds value to the item and provides peace of mind for those looking to purchase or invest in sports memorabilia.

Can any item be photomatched?

While photomatching is commonly used for game-worn jerseys, it can also be applied to other types of sports memorabilia, such as helmets, gloves, bats, and balls. However, photomatching is not always possible for every item. It requires clear, high-resolution photographs from the specific game or event, and the item must have unique characteristics or markings that can be matched to those in the photographs.

credit: PSA

Who performs photomatching?

Photomatching is typically performed by specialized authentication companies that have expertise in analyzing sports memorabilia and access to extensive photographic archives. Among the leading companies in the field of photomatching are MeiGray Group and Resolution Photomatching. These companies use advanced techniques to match items to photographs and provide certificates of authenticity for successfully photomatched items. Through their meticulous examination process, both names have become trusted in the sports memorabilia space, helping collectors and investors verify the authenticity of their prized items.

What are some limitations of photomatching?

Photomatching is not foolproof and has some limitations. It relies on the availability of high-quality photographs from the specific game or event, which may not always be available. Additionally, if an item lacks unique characteristics or markings, it may be difficult or impossible to match it to photographs. Finally, photomatching can only verify that an item was used during a specific event; it cannot determine how many times the item was used or whether it was used by the same athlete in other games.

We hope this FAQ has provided valuable information about the process of photomatching. For more information about sports memorabilia and alternative asset investing, explore our other resources and guides on Altan Insights.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.

What is an Efficient Market? Are Collectible Markets Inefficient?
FAQs

What is an Efficient Market? Are Collectible Markets Inefficient?

By 
Keenan Flack

An efficient market is one in which asset prices fully reflect all available information, resulting in a fair and accurate representation of an asset's value. In contrast, inefficient markets are those in which information asymmetry, limited liquidity, and other factors may lead to mispricing of assets. In this FAQ, we'll explore the concept of market efficiency and discuss whether collectible markets are considered inefficient.

What is an efficient market?

An efficient market is a financial market where prices accurately reflect all known information about the assets being traded. In an efficient market, it is challenging for investors to achieve excess returns consistently because any new information is quickly incorporated into asset prices, eliminating arbitrage opportunities.


What factors contribute to market efficiency?

Several factors contribute to market efficiency, including a large number of well-informed participants, access to relevant information, low transaction costs, and high liquidity. When these factors are present, new information is rapidly disseminated and reflected in asset prices, leading to greater market efficiency.


How do collectible markets differ from more efficient markets like stocks?

Collectible markets often have lower liquidity than more efficient markets like stocks. Liquidity can play a significant role in a collector's success or failure in realizing optimal value for their collectibles. Many collectible markets are beset by low liquidity, and that's especially the case in times of stress. Additionally, collectible markets may have higher information asymmetry, where some participants have access to more information than others​.


Are collectible markets considered inefficient?

Collectible markets are often considered less efficient than traditional financial markets like stocks and bonds. Factors such as limited liquidity, information asymmetry, and the subjective nature of valuing collectibles can contribute to inefficiency. However, this does not mean that opportunities for profit do not exist; rather, it suggests that pricing discrepancies may persist for longer periods allowing for keen eyed collectors to reap profits.


Can market inefficiencies create opportunities for collectors and investors?

Yes, market inefficiencies can create opportunities for collectors and investors to capitalize on mispricing in collectible markets. For example, if a collector has specialized knowledge about a specific category of collectibles, they may be able to identify undervalued items and profit from their eventual appreciation. However, it's important to exercise caution and conduct thorough research, as inefficiencies can also lead to risks and uncertainties.


We hope this FAQ has provided valuable insights into the concept of market efficiency and how it applies to collectible markets. For more information about collectibles and alternative asset investing, explore our other resources and guides on Altan Insights.

Enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

All information provided by Altan Insights is impersonal and not tailored to the needs of any person, entity or group of persons. Past performance of an index or asset is not an indication or guarantee of future results.