The card was bought for $1.845 million, the highest price ever spent on a basketball card

By Jason Duaine Hahn
July 20, 2020 07:09 PM
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LeBron James playing for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Atlanta Hawks
| Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty

LeBron James is breaking records, even off the court.

A rare rookie trading card featuring the NBA star sold for a record $1.8 million on Saturday at Goldin Auctions, according to ESPN.

The purchase price for the 2003-04 Upper Deck rookie Patch Parallel card set a record for a "modern-day card" — cards made after 1979 — and is the most ever paid for a basketball card, the outlet reported.

"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," he added.

James — who was drafted with the No.1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 — currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The card also features a jersey patch and James' autograph in blue ink. Bidding on the item began at $150,000, according to Yahoo Sports.

LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers
| Credit: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty

"There are only two of them, one of them is in private hands and the other was up for auction," Goldin told ESPN. "So this really was the single best LeBron card that somebody could have hoped to get."

The card also received a 9.5 grade from Beckett grading service — only the second card in the series of 23 to have earned that high of a score.

The headline-grabbing auction comes just two months after a card featuring Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout tied the previous record for a modern-day card with a winning bid of $900,000.

Goldin told ESPN that basketball memorabilia has been catching up prices typically reserved for classic baseball items.

"At the present time, I would say that basketball in some cases is stronger than baseball and in other cases is neck-and-neck with baseball," Goldin said.

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"I have a tremendous amount of overseas bidders from China; we've had bidders from the Middle East, bidders from Australia and from Europe," he told the outlet. "With baseball, it's completely North American; it's 99 percent from North America. With basketball, it could be as much as 50 to 60 percent overseas bidding because it's more of a worldwide sport."

"It's growing," he added, "and I believe potentially could have more growth than baseball in the collectability aspect of it."