An anonymous buyer recently paid US$350,100 for a rare Michael Jordan basketball card on eBay during an auction in which the price increased nearly $150,000 in the last two minutes.
“We call it a ‘holy grail’ because it’s so scarce and so desired that you just frankly never see it,” Brent Huigens, CEO of PWCC Marketplace, told the Chicago Tribune. PWCC held the auction on behalf of a private international client.
The Jordan card was the first one Huigens had even seen in person, and he noted that most people haven’t even seen an image of one.
The card is No. 6 of 10 of the Bulls icon’s 1997-98 Precious Metal Gems (PMG) Green cards, which were created as insert cards for Skybox’s Metal Universe packs. Some experts think it’s only one of three Jordan PMG Greens in circulation. The Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) service graded and authenticated the card.
The sale was completed last week. It’s believed to be the highest-selling Jordan card in history and an unprecedented sale for Jordan memorabilia. In comparison, a Jordan PSA 10 rookie card, which is somewhat rare, commonly sells for between $20,000 and $25,000.
Skybox purposely made a small number of “insert” or “chase” cards for collectors and NBA fans to persuade them to purchase full Metal Universe packs. They created 10 PMG Greens and 90 PMG Reds, one of which is currently on eBay for $175,000.
The sale also included cards from other players, including Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Grant Hill, Antoine Walker, and Jordan’s teammate Scottie Pippen. All six of the Precious Metal Gems 1997 were sold by an unnamed international client of PWCC, whom Huigens described as “one of the more prolific modern trading-card investors in the world.”
The Jordan PMG Green’s $350,100 public auction sale is the third for a basketball card, trailing behind a mint-condition 1969 Lew Alcindor rookie card by Topps ($501,900 through Heritage Auction) and a 1948 George Mikan rookie card by Bowman ($403,664 through SCP Auctions), according to the Tribune.
Up until this point, the record for a modern card (1980 to present) was $312,000 for a 2003 Ultimate Collection “Ultimate Logos” LeBron James card.
It’s unusual for basketball cards to exceed $100,000 in sales, much less $200,000. The reason why the Jordan card fetched so much is due to the rarity of the insert combined with the popularity of the set and Jordan himself. The ’97-98 PMGs are also a huge draw for collectors, many of whom grew up as fans of the athlete.
When they were first released, the cards introduced a metallic, holographic-looking foil and a textured surface, which was apt to chip and fray. As a result, most manufacturers discontinued production on these types of cards until years later after technology improved. The PMGs were also the first to include series numbers.
According to eBay, the Jordan auction card set a record as the most expensive basketball card ever sold on the website, beating a 2004 sale of a Jordan/James card for $300,000.