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A look back at 2020 sales of online card auctions

THE BEST OF 2020 — The year 2020 has left an indelible mark—and not in a good way. Amid the despair of a runaway pandemic and unprecedented political division, however, our little corner of the world—online auctions—showed that sports collectors wanted some “escape” from real-world chaos. And that escapism translated into big bidding, as illustrated by the eye-popping numbers in our 2020 year-end Top 10 list.

Fittingly, and perhaps strangely to many of us, two of the items here were altered or “possibly” altered cards (see Nos. 8 and 10). Perhaps mirroring life today, people today seem more accepting of a practice that was long considered “cheating.”

Here are our Top 10 online auction listings during a year most of us want to forget:

1—OA-1952-topps-mantle

1. $428,100 on 100 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA 8)

2. $230,100 on 82 bids: 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luca Doncic, #54/99, auto patch (BGS 9.5)

3. $205,300 on 45 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady, 1 of 100, auto (BGS 8, auto 10)

4. $200,100 on 72 bids: 2000-01 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Michael Jordan Ultimate Signatures Gold, 1 of 25, auto (PSA 10)

5. $180,100 on 52 bids: 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luca Doncic, #54/99, auto patch (BGS 9)

6. $168,700 on 99 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Number Pieces, #16/23, auto patch (BGS 9)

3-oa-1997-98-fleer-metal-kobe

7. $161,716 on 78 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Limited Logos, #21/75, auto patch (BGS 9)

8. $151,926 on 76 bids: 1997-98 Fleer Metal Universe Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems Red, 1 of 100 (altered, BGS Authentic, ungraded)

9. $150,200 on 26 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Refractor (BGS 10)

10. $145,600 on 46 bids: 1997-98 Fleer Metal Universe Precious Metal Games Kobe Bryant, Green, #10/100 and one of only 10 Green versions (BGS authenticated; possibly altered with side trimming)

THE NEXT 20 of 2020 — Beyond the startling sales figures in the year’s Top 10, the hits kept coming. In fact, we tracked another 15 auction items that drew six-figure prices on eBay, plus five others that came close, netting $95,000 or more.

11. $145,300 on 99 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Black Refractor, #284/500 (PSA 10)

4-oa-1993-ud-sp-jeter-foil

12. $140,400 on 43 bids: 1993 Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter Foil (PSA 10)

13. $140,100 on 79 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Limited Logos, #44/75, auto patch (BGS 8.5)

14. $138,477 on 96 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Scripted Swatch, #6/25, auto patch (BGS 9)

15. $131,600 on 55 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Noble Nameplates, #14/25, BGS 9

16. $126,100 on 101 bids: 2009-10 Topps Chrome Stephen Curry Refractor, #396/500 (BGS 10)

17. $125,988 on 62 bids: 2018-19 Panini Prizm Signatures Luka Doncic Gold Prizms, #6/10, auto (BGS 9.5)

5—oa-2005-06-ud-cup-crosby

18. $125,200 on 56 bids: 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup Sidney Crosby, #52/99, auto patch (BGS 10)

19. $124,211 on 56 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Limited LeBron James, 1 of 75, auto patch (PSA 10)

20. $121,100 on 65 bids: 2003-04 Exquisite Collection Michael Jordan Limited Logos, #35/75, auto patch (BGS 9.5)

21. $115,200 on 85 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Refractor (BGS 10)

22. $105,700 on 76 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck SP Inkredible Inkscriptions LeBron James, 1 of 25, auto (PSA 10)

23. $100,100 on 189 bids: 2012-13 Panini Prizm Kawhi Leonard Prizms Gold, #5/10 (BGS 9.5)

6—oa-1963-topps-rose

24. $100,100 on 238 bids: 1963 Topps Pete Rose (PSA 9)

25. $100,000 on 55 bids: 1910 E98 “Set of 30” Cy Young, red background (PSA 10)

26. $99,100 on 74 bids: 1999-00 Upper Deck Encore Kobe Bryant F/X Game Jersey, #4/8, auto patch (PSA 10)

27. $98,600 on 74 bids: 2000 Upper Deck SPx Spectrum Tom Brady, #11/25 (BGS 9.5)

28. $97,700 on 59 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA 7)

29. $95,100 on 58 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection LeBron James Exquisite Rookie, #1/25, auto patch (ungraded)

30. $95,100 on 219 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (SGC 6.5)

NAME DROPPING — If you’re a regular SCD reader, you saw our “Online Auctioner” column 25 times during 2020. You can probably hazard a pretty accurate guess as to which athletes appeared most frequently within our Top 10 charts. But would you guess that the player at the top wasn’t Michael Jordan? Or Mickey Mantle?

7—oa-2003-04-chrome-james

It’s true: Those two all-time hobby heroes were usurped in 2020 by a current player: LeBron James. Among the 250 items listed in our Top 10 charts during the year, 54 of them were LeBron cards. In the year prior, 2019, LeBron ranked fifth, behind Jordan and Mantle (who were tied at the top) and then Mike Trout and Tom Brady.

Here’s a look at the chartbusters of 2020—most appearances on our Top 10 charts:

1. LeBron James: 54 times

2. Michael Jordan: 43 times

3. Kobe Bryant: 21 times

4. Mickey Mantle: 20 times

5. Patrick Mahomes II: 18 times

6. Luca Doncic: 17 times

7. Tom Brady: 14 times

8. Mike Trout: 9 times

9. Zion Williamson: 6 times

10. Stephen Curry: 5 times

8—oa-2014-ud-exquisite-palmer-nicklaus-woods copy

LEGENDS OF THE LINKS — In 2014, Upper Deck issued a holy grail for golf collectors: an extremely rare signed Exquisite Collection card called Triple Endorsements. It features beautifully written autographs of a trio of all-time golfers: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. One example of the card, marked #5 of 5 and graded BGS 9.5, sold in late 2020 for $10,201 on 33 bids.

As of now, the three golf luminaries show a total of 218 PGA tournament wins: Woods has 82 (and counting?—see below), Nicklaus 74 and Palmer 62.

9—oa-2001-ud-tiger-woods copy

HIGH-FLYING TIGER ROOK — The price of the signed “Triple Endorsements” Palmer/Nicklaus/Woods card noted above is actually a steal compared to Tiger Woods’ autographed 2001 Upper Deck Authentic card. In December 2020, a PSA 10 example of Woods’ Authentic rookie—one of 900 issued—sold for $61,100 on 87 bids.

It’s a noteworthy sale because it reflects a dramatic jump over prices that other Gem-Mint Woods rookies have drawn in recent months:

• In November 2020, a PSA 10 example of the card sold for $40,000.

• A month earlier, in October, still another PSA 10 Woods Authentic rookie sold for $16,632.

• In September, a BGS 9.5 Gem Mint example of the card sold for $16,211.

What’s behind the Tiger rookie card spike? Well, in October 2020, he earned his 82nd PGA Tour victory at the inaugural Zozo Championship. The victory brought him into a tie with Sam Snead. Clearly, Woods has “more in the tank,” as PGATour.com writer Cameron Morfit wrote: “Woods still wants to play, still has birdies in him and, assuming his body gives him a few more mostly pain-free stretches of golf, might yet have that record-breaking 83rd victory in him in 2021.”

TOP 10 CHART

1/01/21

1. $208,100 on 125 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)

10—oa-2017-panini-flawless-mahomes

2. $152,100 on 140 bids: 2017 Panini Flawless Patrick Mahomes II, #6/25, auto patch (PSA 10)

3. $111,211 on 33 bids: 2019-20 Panini Select Black Disco Prizm Zion Williamson, #1/1 (PSA 10)

4. $100,101 on 87 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome Refractor LeBron James (BGS 10)

5. $94,300 on 93 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome Refractor LeBron James (PSA 10)

6. $92,600 on 60 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

7. $90,100 on 100 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Basketball unopened wax box (BBCE)

8. $89,100 on 80 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James (BGS 10 Black Label)

9. $85,100 on 77 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James, #1/100, auto patch (BGS 8.5)

10. $78,900 on 134 bids: 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson (PSA 7)

Auction of the Week

SSHAAC-LOGO-2021

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