Move over, Honus Wagner, there's a new king of baseball memorabilia in town. A nearly flawless Mickey Mantle card sold for a record $12.6 million at auction at Heritage Auctions.
That price set the record for the most expensive sports card ever sold, beating out a Wagner card that sold for $7.25 million in August. The Mantle card also set the record for the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia ever sold, surpassing a game-worn Diego Maradona jersey from the "Hand of God" game. The Maradona jersey sold in May for $9.3 million.
The Mantle card received a grade of 9.5, meaning it was classified as gem-mint. The highest grade a card can receive is a 10. The Mantle card that broke the record wasn't considered "perfect," but it was pretty dang close.
The card reportedly originated from a collection of a former Topps driver. After the driver's death, his son discovered the cards and sold them to a collector, according to ESPN.
Sports memorabilia prices have surged in recent years
The Mantle card is the undisputed leader in sports memorabilia ... for now. Prices for memorabilia have grown exponentially over the past couple years. Seemingly every new and rare item up for auction sets a new record. The Wagner card and Maradona jersey, which previously held the records broken by the Mantle card, were both sold in 2022. It's only a matter of time before something else comes along and knocks the 1952 Mantle card off its perch.
A similar surge has occurred in the vintage video-game market, where prices continue to set records. A lawsuit was filed against Wata Games and Heritage Auctions in May, alleging manipulation and "unfair business practices" by the companies in an attempt to allegedly artificially inflate the prices of old video games.