At 58, Michael Jordan is still achieving new heights.
Goldin Auctions, out of its new Private Sales Division, completed the single-most expensive Jordan item sale of all-time when a 1997-98 Upper Deck “Game Jersey” game-worn patch card with an on-card autograph sold for $2.7 million over the weekend. That broke the all-time Goldin Auctions record of $2.1 million — held by the same kind, but differently numbered, card.
The $2.7 million Jordan card is graded an 8 Near Mint-Mint from Beckett Grading Services (BGS), while Jordan’s autograph received an 8 grade, and it’s numbered 6/23. The identities of the seller and buyer were confirmed privately, on the condition of anonymity, to ESPN.
As popular as Jordan’s 1986-87 Fleer rookie card has become — Jordan card sales increased by 370% on eBay in April 2020, following the release of The Last Dance — the 1997-98 Upper Deck may be Jordan’s most important: It’s the first example of a Jordan autographed memorabilia card in a set.
“For people who want to own the absolute best [of Jordan],” says Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, “this is the flagship card. It’s the first Jordan game-worn jersey in a set, it’s autographed, it’s from a known and specific game — which is highly unusual in 2021 trading cards — back from an era when they still did that.”
Recently, there’s been an industry trend of card manufacturers becoming vaguer about the provenance of relics inserted into cards; what used to be “game-used” and “game-worn” have become “player-worn.” Increasingly often, cards will feature the phrase “the relics contained in this card are not from any specific game, event, or season.”
But this card’s jersey patch is game-worn from the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, notable as it served as basketball’s ceremonious farewell to Magic Johnson, who retired on Nov. 7th, 1991. He was a fan vote for the 1992 All-Star Game and scored 25 points en route to the MVP Award. Jordan scored 18 points in the game.
“On the heels of Fanatics trading cards getting a $10.4 billion valuation, the market has to five-to-10 X. I believe we’re going to see tens of millions of new collectors around the world getting into trading cards over the next five to 10 years,” Goldin said. “A percentage of that aren’t going to be satisfied by buying whatever new releases are in 2024 and 2028: Some are going to want the all-time greats, and in basketball, that’s Jordan, LeBron and Kobe.”
“For the people of my era, the undisputed GOAT is Jordan, so it would make sense that, as people get into the hobby, they’re going to gravitate toward his deep cards — like this one,” Goldin said.