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The Luka Doncic Card That Launched Pandemic Sports Card Craze Is Back On the Market

The Luka Doncic Card That Launched Pandemic Sports Card Craze Is Back On the Market article feature image
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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.

The card that launched the Covid-19 sports card craze will sell at a steep discount.

The modern trading card prices that skyrocketed during Covid have taken a huge haircut. As compared to card prices in April 2021, most cards are down 30 to 40%.

The most interesting sale of the pandemic was arguably Luka Doncic’s 2018 National Treasures 1/1 autographed rookie Logoman, which was said to be sold privately for $4.6 million in March 2021.

The card will go up for sale again on Wednesday on PWCC, and in many ways, the second time it sells promises to be just as interesting.

You see, not only was the price paid for the Doncic card in and of itself outrageous, but it very much became the card of the Covid price craze. Was the price real?

We’ll get back to that.

One of the easiest ways to demonstrate the card bubble is by looking at the less rare Doncic rookie cards.

In April 2019, you could get a Doncic Panini Base Prizm for $25. Once Covid hit, those cards — graded in a PSA Gem Mint 10 — were selling for $1,000 and got as high as $2,500.

Then the market realized pure glut. Today, 35,041 of those cards have been graded by PSA, making that base card the fourth-most graded card in basketball card history. Almost 19,000 are 10s, which makes it the third-most Gem Mint card in history.

On Tuesday night, one of these cards sold in a Gem Mint 10 for $330.

The Silver Prism version of that card shows even bigger jumps from $500 to $5,000 and as much as $10,000 during its pandemic phase.

On Tuesday night, one of these cards sold in a Gem Mint 10 for $2,745.

The Luka 1/1 card led to a roughly 5x increase in the value of 1/1 cards of much lesser players. Indeed, no other sale was more integral to the confidence of the modern card-buying public than that Doncic card.

Normally private sales are kept private, but in this case, the players involved wanted everyone to know it was for $4.6 million. The seller, known as Shyne150, sold it to collector Nick Fiorella. Shyne posted Fiorella’s check for $4 million, and Fiorella confirmed there was $600,000 more to the deal.

Why did they feel the need to disclose the price? Because both of them benefited from affirming that the market was this good.

“After that card sold for that, all these modern cards that were selling for $10,000 to $20,000 leapt to $100,000,” said Rick Probstein, who will sell more than $100 million in cards on eBay this year. “The idea was that if that card was worth more than $4 million, there had to be many other cards that could at least get to $1 million.”

Not one other ultra modern card — made in the last five years — did.

Probstein said, prior to this sale, he sold a non-autographed dual logoman of Doncic and Trae Young for $60,000. After the Doncic sale, the market reset to make that card as much as $400,000, Probstein said.

Now Fiorella — who was among the biggest buyers at the height — is selling that Doncic card. He recently sold a Brady Championship ticket card that he said could one day be a $10 million card for $2.4 million.

Fiorella realizes the eyes of the collecting world are on him.

“Thinking about the major sales in the hobby this past year has inspired me to make some changes to my collection,” Fiorella wrote on Instagram earlier this month. “I’m excited about the plan – but recognize a few cards I’m sending to auction will raise eyebrows!”

Fiorello went on to say that he is selling the cards to be able to invest in more targeted areas.

The modern NBA card market flourished in the Covid Era, as huge amounts of money were poured into the hobby. The needle in a haystack dream of ripping packs or buying into a break justified like a six-leg same-game parlay. The big hits were actually few and far between amidst a glut of product, but the viral nature of when they hit on social media fed the frenzy.

“There were a lot of family offices and institutional money looking at the card market during the pandemic,” said noted collector Patrick Ryan. “That fueled a lot of this. And, at the end of the day, it seems like the big money there, that had invested in similar asset classes like art, was scared away by the volatility.”

For its part, PWCC won’t put an estimate on the card.

The Famous 1/1 Doncic will likely sell in the PWCC Auction for $2 million, but the affect that the original sale had on the market might be in the hundreds of millions.

When the auction for the 1/1 Doncic closes on Nov. 17, there will be a lot of eyes on it. How much was this the pandemic pump? And how much of a fall do we attribute to the new economic world?

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