The world’s largest collectibles auctioneer yet again asserted its hobby dominance over the weekend as 643 lots drew just over $11 million in winning bids, shattering longstanding price records in the process. No fewer than 17 individual lots commanded prices in excess of $100,000, led by a $2.58 million result for Lou Gehrig’s 1937 New York Yankees road jersey, the highest price ever achieved at auction for a jersey not worn by Babe Ruth.
“We’ve picked up a good number of high-end collectors in recent months,” noted Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles for Heritage. “The uncertainty in the financial markets is driving corporate money toward the safety of top-tier collectibles, so we’re in the midst of a significant pricing boom here.”
Among the most stunning results of the sale was a $396,000 winning bid for Ty Cobb’s portrait by legendary photographer Carl Horner. The Horner image, which was used for Cobb’s famous T206 portrait cards, more than quadrupled the standing record for an unsigned sports photograph. The record for a Roberto Clemente game used bat was more than doubled on Saturday night, as his 1971 World Series lumber found a new owner at $198,000. Likewise setting a new hobby mark was a $126,000 result for a 2016 New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship ring, by far the highest price ever paid for a ring not related to a major star.
Sports cards yielded incredible results as well with a freshly discovered and graded 1916 Famous & Barr Babe Ruth, PSA EX-MT 6, rookie card fetching $540,000, and a 1935 National Chicle Bronko Nagurski, PSA NM-MT+ 8.5 landed at $174,000. The vibrant modern trading card market likewise saw its record books rewritten as Upper Deck insert cards from NBA icons Michael Jordan, which commanded a winning bid of $204,000, and LeBron James, which ended at $192,000, signaling tremendous growth in the 21st century genre.
Certainly all lots benefited from the enormous global press coverage of President Barack Obama’s 1979 Punahou (HI) High School game worn basketball jersey, which drew a winning bid of $120,000, a record for any jersey not worn by a star athlete.
President Barack Obama’s Game-Worn High School Basketball Jersey Sold for $120,000 at Heritage Auctions
President Barack Obama’s game worn high school basketball jersey sold for a stunning $120,000 Saturday, Aug. 17, during Heritage Auctions’ Sports Platinum Night Memorabilia Auction.
The jersey was the most popular item of the $11 million auction with nearly 13,000 page views and even surpassed the sale price of the only known Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb dual-signed photograph, which sold for $111,000.
The sale’s top lot was a 1937 Lou Gehrig game-worn New York Yankees jersey with photo matches to two different home run games, which sold for an estimate busting $2,580,000.
But all eyes were on Obama’s jersey. Known for playing basketball at the White House, often with members of his staff or celebrities and notables, the No. 23 jersey issued by Hawaii’s Punahou School during the 1978-1979 season. It was worn by an 18-year-old “Barry” Obama during his senior year at Punahou as a member of the 1979 Hawaii State Champion boys’ varsity basketball team.
It was fortuitously rescued from being discarded when the new varsity jerseys arrived on campus after freshmen Peter Noble, three years behind Obama at Punahou, had worn the same number “23” jersey while on the junior varsity team.
Accompanying the jersey is Noble’s yearbook from Obama’s senior year. It features a quarter-page personal layout in the section dedicated to the graduating class, including a playground shot of the future President he labeled, “We go play hoop.” On page 104, a photo captioned, “Barry Obama goes up for a basket against St. Louis,” features the jersey he wears in the photograph.
Coincidentally, Obama’s jersey number 23 were and are worn by the two men most commonly identified as the greatest basketball players of all time: Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
Other highlights included:
- $90,000: 1868 “Clipper Prize” Medal Presented to George Wright, with George Wright letter of provenance
- $44,400: 1923 Green Bay Packers Stock Certificate
- $384,000: 1956 Mickey Mantle All-Star Game Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 9.5
- $111,000: The Only Known Babe Ruth & Ty Cobb Dual-Signed Photograph
- $150,000: Early to Mid-1930’s Lou Gehrig Game Worn New York Yankees Cap, MEARS Authentic
- $120,000: 1953 Ty Cobb Single Signed Baseball, PSA/DNA Gem Mint 10
- $84,000: 1966 Muhammad Ali Fight Worn Gloves from George Chuvalo I Bout
- $97,200: 1983 Walter Payton Game Worn & Signed Chicago Bears Jersey, photo matched
- $55,200: 1984-85 Michael Jordan Rookie Game Worn & Signed Rare Black-Toed Air Jordan I Single Sneaker, MEARS Authentic
- $36,000: 2012 Mike Trout Game Used & Signed Rookie Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10