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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.

lebron james card

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.”

Auction of the Week

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Collect Auctions Summer Auction

Collect Auctions bidding ends August 6 and bidders can view each lot on our website at www.collectauctions.net. There are more than 1,000 lots of vintage sports cards and sets; what we believe is the strongest unopened lineup any auction house has ever offered. Bidding ends Thursday, August 6 at 9:00 p.m. CST (10:00 EST).