It’s safe to say 2020 was a monumental year for card sales. All but two of the Top 10 selling sports cards of all time were auctioned off last year as the coronavirus pandemic raged on. But, then, the list changed at the top in January 2021 with the private sale of the 1952 Mickey Mantle card.
Now, this all-time list is up to date through Feb. 1, 2021
Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps
The card was sold by former NFL lineman Evan Mathis through Heritage Auctions in April 2018 for $2.88 million. In January 2021, Rob Gough bought the card for $5.2 million, putting the iconic card at the top of the list.
Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Autographed Superfractor
Former sports gambler turned card investor Dave Oancea, also known as “Vegas Dave,” purchased the 1/1 from a Taiwan businessman for $400,000 in May 2018. Oancea flipped the card – graded a BGS 9 and auto BGS 10 – through Goldin Auctions in August 2020. Oancea also sold a Trout Red Refractor 5/5 from that same Bowman Chrome set for $922,500 in May 2020.
Honus Wagner 1909-11 T206
The most iconic tobacco card ever was sold privately through Mile High Card Company in October 2020. It’s graded PSA 3, surpassing the PSA 5 “Jumbo” Wagner card that sold for a then-record $3.12 million in 2016. During its 30 years in business, PSA has graded 35 Wagner T206 cards (28 are either Authentic, 1, 1 with a qualifier or 2).
Giannis Antetokounmpo 2013-14 Panini America National Treasures NBA Logoman Patch
The 1/1 card of the “Greek Freak” is graded BGS 9 and auto 10 and sold in September 2020 at Goldin Auctions. Antetokounmpo, the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2013 NBA Draft, won back-to-back MVP crowns and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2019-20. Antetokounmpo is still just 26 years old and could win many more awards before he retires.
LeBron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection rookie patch autograph
This card set the record for the highest price ever paid for a basketball card in July 2020 at Goldin Auctions, but the Antetokounmpo eclipsed it six weeks later. Reaching this figure is astronomical in large part because it’s a card that is numbered to 23. Graded a BGS 9.5 with 10 auto, there could be more of these patch autos that earn a higher grade at BGS 10 or PSA 10 and come out in the future.
Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee
This is one of just two O-Pee-Chee PSA 10s that exist. The card of The Great One was sold by Heritage Auctions in December 2020. The American version of the card from Topps in a PSA 10 sold in the same auction for $720,000. In 2016, the O-Pee-Chee Gretzky sold for $465,000.
Giannis Antetokounmpo 2013-14 Panini Prizm Black Mosaic
This was the second Antetokounmpo rookie to topple the million-dollar mark in 2020. Like the National Treasures Logoman (list at No. 4), this card of the Bucks superstar is a 1/1. This one sold in December 2020 by Goldin Auctions.
Anthony Davis 2012-13 National Treasures #151 Signed NBA Logoman Patch Rookie Card (#1/1) BGS MINT 9/BGS 10 (Goldin Auctions, January 2021)
Stephen Curry 2009/10 Panini National Treasures “Century Platinum” #206 Signed Patch Rookie Card (#3/5) BGS GEM MT 9.5/BGS 10 (Goldin Auctions, January 2021)
Michael Jordan 1997 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems
This green-shaded version of the card is one of 10 ever produced and it sold at Heritage Auctions in December 2020. Just six have been presented to PSA for encapsulation, and this is one of two to have been graded PSA Authentic. It was estimated at $500,000 and shattered that figure.
Michael Jordan and LeBron James 2003-04 Exquisite Collection All-NBA Access Press Patches
The 1/1 Upper Deck card featuring two legends of the game sold in early 2020 in a private transaction brokered through Goldin Auctions, prior to the pandemic card craze. The non-autographed card is graded BGS 8.5.
Patrick Mahomes 2017 Panini National Treasures Black #161 (#1/5) BGS MINT 9/BGS 10
Highest price paid for a football card. (Goldin Auctions, January 2021)
Lou Gehrig 1925 Exhibits Rookie Card PSA EX-MT 6 (Goldin Auctions, January 2021)
Luka Doncic 2018 Panini Prizm Gold #280 (#3/10) PSA GEM MT 10 “1 of 3” (Goldin Auctions, January 2021)
Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Rookie (Goldin Auctions, January 2021)
Babe Ruth 1916 M101 Blank Back Sporting News rookie
The universally recognized Babe Ruth rookie card sold at Heritage Auctions in 2016. Ruth, who started his career primarily as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, is shown on the card following through with a pitch. It is said only four are a higher grade than this NM 7.
Photos: Provided by respective auction houses.