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Expert details Mickey Mantle baseball card selling for ‘earth-shattering’ $12.6 million

Goldin Auctions Founder Ken Goldin joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the record-breaking auction of a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card and what it means for sports collectibles.

Video Transcript


- Nearly 30 years after his death, Yankees legend Mickey Mantle is still breaking records. A 1952 Mantle baseball card sold Sunday for $12.6 million. That's the most ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia. Ken Goldin is a lifelong collector. He's the executive chairman and founder of Goldin Auctions, and he joins us with more on that card.

Ken, good to see you again, man. So what was your reaction? Usually we hear about these cards, and we hear about a record's about to be broken. This didn't seem like the case. What was your reaction?

KEN GOLDIN: Sure. Well the card was graded an SGC 9.5. It was a very high grade. And I think most people expected it would be the first eight-figure card. And we knew it would happen. I knew eventually-- like, the card on your screen right now, that exact card I've offered $28 million for that exact card, and I was turned down.

So when this other one came up-- there it is right there-- which is exceptional, but not a PSA 10 quality, I figured it was going to go anywhere from a low of $9 million to a high of $14 or $15 million, and it went right in the middle of the range.

But to the people who are not in the business, this is earth-shattering because this tells them, hey, a sports collectible can sell for over $10 million. Somebody, like, legitimately paid $40,000 for this. Actually I think they paid $1,000 for this card, the original guy, $1000 for this card in the 1980s. And then it resold in 1991 for $40,000.

- Ken, is that way too much for that card?

KEN GOLDIN: No, I don't think it is. I think that when you look at these type of cards, people want the best of the best. You know, it broke a record that Goldin had just set three weeks earlier with a T206 Honus Wagner, you know, the very famous card that people talk about all the time. That was $7.25 million.

But on a scale of 1 to 10, that card was only a 2. On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 9.5. So the two biggest cards in the hobby are the T206 Wagner and the '52 Topps Mickey Mantle. The Mantle is a grade scarcity, meaning the card itself is not overly scarce. There's over 1000 of them out there. However, the grade of the card, being in an ultra high-end grade, there's only a few of them.

The Wagner is a scarcity based on the fact there's under 50 of those cards in the world. But it really puts sports cards into the same category as fine art and other collectibles because one day there will be a $100 million sports collectible sold.

- $100 million? So it broke the record set by a game-worn Diego Maradona jersey from the "Hand of God" game. That was $9.3 million. What might get us anywhere close to $100 million? Is it a particular athlete, a card, memorabilia? Give us a guess.

KEN GOLDIN: Sure, I'll give you some examples of what I think would sell for more than this card. A high-grade T206 Honus Wagner, maybe a PSA 5 or a PSA 8 or a PSA 4. A PSA 10 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. If anybody ever unearthed a Michael Jordan Dream Team game-used photo matched jersey, I think that would beat it.

A Babe Ruth New York Yankees photo-matched jersey from the World Series, that would beat it. The very first jersey that Jackie Robinson ever wore in a game, on April 15, 1947, that's going to destroy this record. That should be over $20 million. Things like that of amazing cards and amazing generational players and athletes and amazing events.

Like, you look at Jordan, for example. There's never been a photo-matched Dream Team Olympic-- that's the most important team of all time, the greatest team of all time, and the greatest player of all time. There's never been an authentic jersey to surface from the Dream Team of Michael Jordan. So I think that could surpass this as an example.

But obviously considering I personally have offered for a client $28 million for a different version of this exact card but in a PSA 10 and was turned down, it tells me that that card's already in the $30 million plus range.

- It tells you this record is soon to be broken. Excellent stuff. Ken Goldin, great to have you on Yahoo Finance. Thank you.

KEN GOLDIN: Thank you for having me.

- All right, man.