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LeBron James rookie card sells for a modern-day record price

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A LeBron James autographed rookie card doubled the record price paid for a modern-day sports card by selling for a whopping $1,845,000 on Sunday in the 2020 Summer Premium Auction at Goldin Auctions.

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The 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection card—one of 23 produced but only one of two that graded a 9.5 mint gem by Beckett Grading Services—surpassed a gem mint Bowman Draft Chrome Red Refractor Mike Trout autographed rookie card that sold at auction in May. That card went for $922,500 to set a modern-day record, generally said to be those cards produced from 1980 on.

"If we were talking about a T206 [Honus] Wagner or a 1952 [Mickey] Mantle, it probably wouldn't be that much news," Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, told ESPN. "But when you're talking about a card that was literally produced 17 years ago and is for a guy still playing in the NBA, it's just shocking news to a lot of people. It's really where my particular industry has been going for several years."

ESPN reported the winner of the auction as Leore Avidar, co-founder and CEO of Lob.com, a San Francisco-based company which automates direct mail for businesses.

Avidar told Darren Rovell of Action Network that the purchase is part of a strategy to “bring something big to the collectibles and alternative asset business in the coming months.”

The record for a basketball card was previously set in February when an Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James/Michael Jordan Logoman card went for $900,000 in a private sale.

“We and my consignor are thrilled with the sale [of the LeBron James rookie card],” Goldin told SCD. “It shows the card market has tremendous strength, and I feel we have been rewarded with great consignments due to the focus we have placed over the years on learning, understanding and catering to the modern card collector.”

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