A pair of 1986-87 Michael Jordan rookie cards with Gem Mint PSA 10 grading have shattered record prices a mere month after the previous figure was set, changing hands for US$738,000 (AU$967,000) each at Goldin Auctions’ latest event.
What’s more incredible than the fact each card is valued at almost a million AUD is the sheer rate of appreciation. In early January of this year, a PSA 10 Michael Jordan rookie card sold for US$217,000. In December of last year, another was sold for US$211,560. And in December of 2019, before the second wave of The Last Dance-instigated Jordan fever, the very same card was reportedly worth just US$32,000.
1986-87 Michael Jordan rookie cards aren’t exactly a rarity. As one of the most popular basketball cards ever produced, over 20,000 have been submitted for evaluation across the years. What drives the dollar sign up, however, is individual quality. In the current market, only 316 cards being circulated have ever received a Gem Mint 10 grading. Certainly no easy feat, especially considering how susceptible to damage the edges are.
According to Sports Collectors Daily:
“The key to what your Michael Jordan rookie card is worth has everything to do with condition – and you can’t really rely on our own naked eye evaluation. If it has four sharp corners and is well cantered with no print marks, it has a chance to earn a high grade. Grading any MJ rookie is worth it, though, if you have an ungraded one and you’re thinking of selling. And don’t buy an ungraded one unless you know what to look for. There are too many counterfeits.”
Collectible sports memorabilia have enjoyed “hot property” status recently, beyond items associated with Michael Jordan and the NBA (of which there are plenty). In August of 2020, a rare 1-of-1 rookie player card featuring MLB All-Star, three-time American League MVP, and seven-time Silver Slugger Award recipient Mike Trout set the record for world’s most expensive baseball card… fetching a cool US$3.9 million (AU$5.5 million).
If this isn’t a compelling case for alternative investments, I don’t know what is.