May 6th, 2021
History was made recently when the record was broken for the worlds most expensive basketball card was sold. According to PWCC Marketplace, the autographed 2003 James Exquisite Collection patch card sold for a cool $5.2 million. The card was officially graded by BGS at a Mint 9. PWCC said this was the third best example of this card in existence. Interestingly, card sales had been down a little recently, but that didn’t slow down this transaction, which apparently had been in the works for some time. The previous record for a basketball card was a 2018 Luka Doncic Panini National Treasure, it sold in a private sale for $4.6 Million.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; I NEED TO CHECK TO SEE IF I HAVE ANY LEBRON ROOKIES!! In my best Liam Neeson voice, “Quickly there’s no time!!”
But hold your horses before you hastily list your Lebron Rookie with a starting bid of $1.5 million, there is a reason this went for the price it did, and that’s where we all need to be smart about pulling price comps on our collections. See, this card was one of only 23 made. That low production number most certainly drove the value up, as a similar Lebron Rookie card sold for $1.72 million recently, and it was one of 99. So not all Lebron rookies are created equal.
But more so, the sale of this card speaks more to where the market currently is, and where it is heading. I mentioned that this was the third best example of this card. The other 2 examples, both graded at 9.5 BGS, are still out there. One of them held the record last year when it sold in July for $1.85 million. It speaks volumes that the same card, graded lower by the same company, fetched an extra $3.35 Million not even a year later. It is a testament to Lebron’s continuing rise in his dominance and value in the later years of his career, and also the overall sports card market. Where do collectors go from here, especially serious collectors with the means to obtain cards of this caliber? Jesse Craig of PWCC was quoted at ESPN: “There are LeBron cards [still] out there, I would say, worth over $10 million,” Craig said. “And let’s be clear: There are three Mantle PSA 10s that, whenever they transact, will break every record there is. But as a market, there are so many desirable cards that haven’t sold yet publicly.”
“It really helps when sales like these happen,” Craig continued. “It just instills confidence that there are really high-end buyers out there. And these cards are starting to get recognition as the pieces of fine art that they [are].”
So what about those of us that are getting back into the hobby after some time away? You will hear us say time and again, the most important thing in regards to your collection is, “TAKE CARE OF YOUR CARDS!” Nothing would be worse that having one of the 23 2003 James Exquisite Collection patch cards, and getting it graded as an 8 because it was tossed around in a moving box. Place them in top loaders in a safe space at a minimum, but preferably an Ultra-pro one touch. These are great to store them in until you’re able to send to PSA and get them placed in a slab since it will protect them from not only accidentally the corners/sides but will also protect them from fading as they have UV protection. What kind of cards should you be on the lookout for? Start with your favorite players! After that, be on the lookout for current rookies with high upside, but not necessarily high-hype. Hype can unfairly drive the value of a card up before that player has produced, leading to collectors in many cases buying high/selling low. Lebron had a ton of hype, but nothing is guaranteed. His value has skyrocketed due not only to his production, but also his ability to avoid long term serious injury. His value could’ve drastically been altered had he missed a year due to injury. You just never know.
Overall, if this does anything for our hobby, it sure makes it a ton of fun