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Wayne Gretzky rookie card sells for $3.75M to set hockey record

Wayne Gretzky already belonged among such legendary sports icons as Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Now he has the sports card to match after his 1979 rookie card sold for $3.75M.

Wayne Gretzky once owned one of the iconic T206 Honus Wagner cards, the "Holy Grail" of sports cards. 

Now Gretzky has joined the company of such sports legends as Wagner, Mickey Mantle, Mike Trout, LeBron James and Michael Jordan, who each made history recently as their sports cards soared to new heights on the collectibles market.

Now you can add another legendary name to the list — Wayne Gretzky.

The Great One set his own record when Heritage Auctions sold one of only two known 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie cards graded PSA Gem Mint 10 for $3.75 million. The sale shattered the previous record set in December, when Heritage sold the only other gem-mint Canadian version of his Edmonton Oilers rookie card for $1.29 million. The December sale marked the first time a hockey card surpassed the $1 million mark.

Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee card that sold for $3.75M at Heritage Auctions.

Wayne Gretzky rookie card 

Heritage Auctions Director of Sports Chris Ivy said the sale, which occurred in a private transaction, is not surprising “considering how rare and significant this card is.”

“After all, there are only two examples. And, it’s Wayne Gretzky,” Ivy said.

More: Goldin Auctions sets record for Honus Wagner, Michael Jordan cards

Gretzky, who once owned one of the iconic T206 Honus Wagner cards, finished his 20-year NHL career as the greatest hockey player of all-time, breaking numerous NHL records, including goals scored, most assists and most points.

The back of the 1979 Wayne Gretzky rookie card that sold for $3.75 million at Heritage Auctions.

Back of Wayne Gretzky rookie card

Now Gretzky’s Canadian rookie card is one of the “Holy Grails” of trading cards. A Gretzky O-Pee-Chee graded PSA Gem Mint 10 sold for $465,000 in 2016 when there was only one known to exist.

“There are just a handful of cards out there to reach such stratospheric heights, and they bear such names as Mickey Mantle, LeBron James, Mike Trout, Honus Wagner and Michael Jordan,” says Dan Imler, Heritage Sports’ Vice President of Private Sales and Consignments. “It’s only fitting that the greatest hockey player of all time, and one of the most beloved and revered athletes of the 20th century, joins their estimable ranks.”

Though the buyer and seller asked to remain anonymous, the new owner was thrilled to acquire the iconic card,

“Throughout many years of collecting, this card has always been our ‘white whale,’” the buyer said, via Heritage Auctions. “Our family is thrilled to become the new guardians of this world-class hobby treasure.”

The rookie cards of Mantle and James hold the all-time record for highest selling cards, with both selling for $5.2 million earlier this year, eclipsing the record previously held by Trout ($3.9 million). A T206 Honus Wagner card sold for $3.75 earlier this week, while James and Jordan have both set records for basketball cards. 

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