Most expensive baseball card in history: Mickey Mantle 1952 topps sold card at auction for a record $12.6 million

A mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball card was sold for $12.6 million on Sunday, the highest price ever paid for sports memorabilia in a sector that has become significantly more lucrative recently. The expensive Mantle card broke the previous record, which was set a few months ago when Diego Maradona’s controversial “Hand of God” World Cup goal jersey sold for $9.3 million.

It considerably beat the $7.25 million paid recently for a century-old baseball card of Honus Wagner that was sold in a private auction. The heavyweight boxing title that Muhammad Ali reclaimed in the “Rumble in the Jungle” fight of 1974 just sold for for $6.2 million. All are a part of the burgeoning sports collectibles market.

Not only have the most expensive products seen price increases, but so have items that may have been gathering dust in attics and basements. Others are offered for sale through auctioneers, while many of those items wind up on customer auction sites like eBay.

The Mantle card was guaranteed to be a high seller due to its almost flawless condition and renowned topic, according to Chris Ivy, the director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, which handled the bidding. Over the past few years, some people have used collectibles as a hedge against inflation, he added, while others have revived old obsessions.

Ivy claimed that astute investors anticipated inflation, which has already occurred. Sports memorabilia consequently became a substitute for conventional Wall Street investments or real estate, especially among older millennials and members of Generation X.

“There’s only so much Netflix and ‘Tiger King’ people could watch (during the pandemic). So, you know, they were getting back into hobbies, and clearly sports collecting was a part of that,” said Ivy, who noted an uptick in calls among potential sellers.

Ivy said there was a combination of elements that made sports memorabilia very alluring. Add to that the attention from wealthy international collectors. “We’ve kind of started seeing some growth and some rise in the prices that led to some media coverage. And I think it all it all just kind of built upon itself,” he said. “I would say the beginning of the pandemic really added gasoline to that fire.”

In a 2018 Forbes interview with David Yoken, the creator of, it was stated that the market for sports memorabilia was believed to be worth more than $5.4 billion prior to the outbreak.

Zahid Iqbal

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