LeBron James’ Rookie Card Sold For A Staggering $1.8 Million At Auction

by Duke Magazine

A stunning LeBron James trading card sold for a record-breaking $1.845 million at auction over the weekend, the NBA said. The card features James, now at the Los Angeles Lakers, during his 2003-04 rookie season at hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers and is now the most expensive basketball card ever purchased. According to the NBA, the signed card was one of only 23 produced and received a “9.5 mint gem” condition grading. It also features a piece of James’ Cavaliers jersey.

Bidding started at $150,000 and attracted 34 bids during the 26-day auction, the NBA said. It surpassed the previous record of $923,000 for the most expensive modern-era trading card, those made in 1980 or later set by a card featuring baseball star Mike Trout in May. Bidding started at $150,000 and attracted 34 bids during the 26-day auction, the NBA said. 

LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers shirt

With James wearing No. 23, there were only 23 of this card produced, and since it was graded as a 9.5 mint gem by Beckett grading service, it was one of only two of these particular cards graded that high.

“There are only two of them, one of them is in private hands and the other was up for auction,” Goldin said. “So this really was the single best LeBron card that somebody could have hoped to get. It was very active bidding, a lot of bidders, and we’re happy with the results.”

The market for basketball cards has been steadily rising over the years, with more and more modern card sales taking place.

“At the present time, I would say that basketball in some cases is stronger than baseball and in other cases is neck-and-neck with baseball,” Goldin said. “I have a tremendous amount of overseas bidders from China; we’ve had bidders from the Middle East, bidders from Australia and from Europe. With baseball, it’s completely North American; it’s 99% from North America. With basketball, it could be as much as 50 to 60% overseas bidding because it’s more of a worldwide sport.

“It’s growing, and I believe potentially could have more growth than baseball in the collectability aspect of it.”

The same lot also sold a pair of Michael Jordan rookie-season, game-used shoes from 1984-85 for $369,000, as well as a Patch Parallel Autographed LeBron James card from 2004-05 for $246,000.

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