2020 has easily been one of the biggest years in recent memory for sports collectors. Not only have there been numerous record-breaking sales, but an influx of new collectors have also joined the hobby. In addition, more mainstream media sites such as ESPN, Forbes, Business Insider, and many more have all published numerous pieces about the rise in price as well as the popularity of sports cards.
One of the biggest sales in sports collecting history is the 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Superfractor. Selling for nearly four million, not only is this the highest modern-day card sold, but it’s also the highest publicly recorded price for any trading card. Its counterpart, the 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Red Refractor sold for over $900,000, which was the record for the highest modern-day baseball card until the Mike Trout Superfractor easily stole the top spot.
Other notable baseball card sales are the Fernando Tatis Bowman Chrome Red Refractors (x2) and a Ronald Acuna Red Refractor, which were all sold by Goldin Auctions. The Fernando Tatis Red Refractors sold for an average of around $230,000 each. The Ronald Acuna Red Refractor sold for nearly $240,000. These sales are huge for the modern-day prospecting market as these are both fairly new players that have not even been in the league for four seasons yet. These are highly risky purchases, but if all goes well, it is possible for those cards to jump near the same price as the Mike Trout Red Refractor that got almost a million due to the growing card market. Just a couple of years ago, a Tatis Red Refractor auto sold for only around $20,000 on eBay, which is nothing compared to its price now. In addition, at release date in 2017, a couple of Ronald Acuna Red Refractors autos were on auction on eBay and fetched around $2,000 apiece.
The basketball market, in my opinion, has seen the most increase in price and popularity. A massive collection of rare Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball cards from Puerto Rico were acquired by Goldin Auctions. Many collectors have not seen these Exquisite Basketball cards since their release date in the early 2000s. Therefore, these cards brought a lot of interest and commanded significant prices. I sold the Giannis Logoman National Treasures rookie card one of one at auction for a bit over $1.8 million. As of now, it is the highest publicly recorded basketball card sold. In addition, two Lebron Exquisite RPAs graded 9.5/10 were sold for over a million a piece. The gold variant Lebron Exquisite RPA #/23 sold for a little less than the Giannis Logoman National Treasures rookie card one of one that I sold. The #/99 Lebron Exquisite RPA copy sold for a bit over one million. In 2015, the gold variant Lebron Exquisite RPA was purchased for $95,000, which is practically pennies compared to what it is worth now. Even though the Lebron Exquisite RPA #/23 was sold during the middle of 2020, Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, has another copy of the same type of card that he believes will bring $3-5 million dollars if auctioned off in the near future.
In early 2020 and previous years, it seemed highly unlikely for any modern day card to fetch over a million, let alone four million. However, in 2020 alone, there were over four publicly recorded sales of cards selling for over a million. There were many more private sales of cards fetching over a million from the Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball card collection from Puerto Rico. This can be attributed to the private investors and hedge funds entering the market. Cards used to be seen as a small investment for fun or just for personal collection, however, they are now being seen as worthy alternative investments and are capturing the eyes of big time investors.