A Record-Setting Week—Starring Luka Doncic And Tom Brady—For Booming Sports Cards

The flourishing sports card and memorabilia market has soared to new heights over the past six days, with all-time records set for the most expensive basketball and football cards ever sold, while NBA Top Shot’s video highlight clips have generated more than $60 million in sales.

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signals after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium … [+]

Last Sunday, an autographed, one-of-one Luka Doncic rookie card from the 2018-19 Panini National Treasures set sold for a whopping $4.6 million, the second-highest recorded card sale of all time.

Earlier this week, Heritage Auction announced that its two-day event (highlighted by the sale of Babe Ruth game-used bat and a famed T206 Honus Wagner, which sold for $2.5 million) attracted more than 24,000 bids and resulted in transactions totaling $32.7 million.


An autographed 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady rookie card sold for a record $1.32 million on Thursday, which is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a football card.

The sports card and sports memorabilia markets began surging near the start of the pandemic (in its “State of Trading Cards” report, eBay said the trading card category on its platform grew by 142% in 2020 with over 4 million more cards sold compared to the prior year) and have shown no signs of slowing down in 2021. As opposed to pointing to a single agency responsible for precipitating and sustaining the market’s growth, experts believe that several factors have driven the rise. Some believe that investors are merely searching for hard assets to hedge against future inflation related to uncertainties in the global marketplace. Others have suggested that nostalgia has played a crucial role, as collectors in their 30s and 40s who had once collected cards as kids found time and resources to rediscover a hobby they long ago strayed from. The pandemic, which has left so many homebound and bored, may have contributed as well. Collectors that recently began investing in cards have certainly been encouraged to continue doing so, with returns on sports card investments outperforming the S&P 500.

“I’ve been collecting cards and memorabilia for my whole life, and I’ve never seen as much interest in the hobby,” said Ken Goldin, the founder of Goldin Auctions, last month following an auction that generated $33 million in sales. “Long-time collectors have seen the value of their items soar, and new collectors have rushed in because they view the hobby as not only fun but also a valuable investment.”

It’s not only traditional cards that are having a moment. NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based platform on which users buy and sell officially licensed NBA collectible highlights known as “Moments,” has generated over $313 million in total sales since going live just six months ago. More than 80% ($262 million) of that total has been processed in the past month.

$5.2 million. That’s the price entrepreneur and venture capitalist Rob Gough paid for a scarce 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card in January, setting the record for the largest card transaction in history.

NBA Top Shot, A Crypto-Based Platfom For Video Collectibles, Soars Past $200 Million In Total Sales (Forbes)

EBay Reports Increase Of 4 Million Trading Cards Sold In 2020 (Forbes)

I’m a New York-based news desk reporter for Forbes covering sports, politics and business. Please feel free to contact me via email (tsbeer7 [@] gmail.com) or Twitter


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