The Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle card that captured the attention of the sports collectible hobby over the past month has sold for an earthshaking $12.6 million, easily shattering the all-time record for most expensive sports card.
The card surpassed the previous record by more than $5 million when it sold in the Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction at Heritage Auctions early Sunday morning, August 28. The card was owned by collector Anthony Giordano, who purchased it from hobby pioneer Al “Mr. Mint” Rosen in 1991.
A 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $7.25 million in a private sale by Goldin Co. in August, establishing a short-lived record. That card surpassed another T206 Wagner card that sold for $6.6 million last year at Robert Edward Auctions.
The Mantle card was expected to top $10 million, with some experts speculating it might climb to $15-$20 million. Its hammer price of $12.6 million includes a 20 percent buyers premium. The identity of the buyer has not been released.
The sale is not only a sports card record, but the highest-selling piece of sports memorabilia in the history of the hobby, surpassing the Diego Maradona World Cup jersey that sold for $9.3 million in May.
“An eight-figure auction result in the sports market was the stuff of fantasy just a decade ago,” says Chris Ivy, director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “We always knew this card would shatter records and expectations. But that doesn’t make it any less of a thrill to be part of an auction during which a single item breaks the eight-figure threshold for the first time.”
The card is part of Rosen’s monumental find in which he landed 75 mint 1952 Mantles in 1985. Rosen, who was nicknamed “Mr. Mint,” called this particular Mantle the best in his find.
“There are Rosen Find Mantles that I’ve graded — I’ve never held one that nice,” said Derek Grady, vice president of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “It’s dead centered, the color’s immaculate, the corners are razor. This is a prototypical Rosen Find Mantle, this just happens to be the one that [Rosen] called the ‘finest.’ He saw them all, he sold them all, and he called this one the finest one that he handled. He even wrote a letter of provenance to Anthony saying, ‘Here’s the finest ’52 Mantle, enjoy it, basically.”
Giordano and his son, Ralphie, went to a card show on Father’s Day 1991 in Madison Square Garden and ended up at Rosen’s table. Giordano was enamored with the ungraded ’52 Mantle, which was priced at $57,500. The collector negotiated the price to $50,000, paying $10,000 up front and paying the remaining balance the next day.
The card stayed at Giordano’s residence in southeastern Pennsylvania until earlier this year when he decided to sell it. Grady predicted the card could become the hobby’s first eight-figure item, estimating it at $10 million.
Yet another Mantle card holds collector intrigue. The 1952 Mantle card owned by Denver collector Marshall Fogel, one of just three graded PSA 10, has long been regarded as the top Mantle card in the hobby. Its value, considering recent develops, could be staggering.