The 10 Most Expensive Sports Trading Card Sales of All Time

The 10 Most Expensive Sports Trading Card Sales of All Time article feature image

Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Pittsburgh Pirates

Most Expensive Sports Trading Card Sales to Date

Player Card Price
1. Honus Wagner T206 SGC 3 $6.6 Million
T2. Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps $5.2 Million
T2. LeBron James 2003-04 Rookie Patch Autograph $5.2 Million
4. Luka Doncic* 1:1 Logoman Autographed $4.6 Million
5. Patrick Mahomes* 2017 Rookie Auto BGS 8.5 $4.3 Million
6. Mike Trout 2009 Superfractor Autograph $3.9 Million
T7. Honus Wagner T206 PSA 2 $3.75 Million
T7. Wayne Gretzky 1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee $3.75 Million
9. Honus Wagner PSA 3 $3.7 Million
10. Honus Wagner T206 PSA 5 $3.1 Million

*denotes a private sale

For years, the T206 Honus Wagner reigned supreme not only as the most famous, but the highest price of all baseball cards, famously selling for $1 million in 2000.

But in the last year alone, a 1952 Mickey Mantle card sold for $5.2 million. And a slew of modern cards trumped the record for a Wagner, $3.75 million paid in May. 

A LeBron James logoman card sold for $5.2 million. A Luka Doncic logoman card sold for $4.6 million. And a Patrick Mahomes rookie patch card recently sold for $4.3 million. 

On Sunday night, the famous card found on cigarette brands from 1909 to 1911, sold at Robert Edwards Auctions for $6,626,096, including buyer’s premium, taking the crown of the most expensive baseball card once again.

The sale gives Wagner four of the top 10 spots on the all-time sales list. Two other spots on the list are held by baseball players, and players often compared to each other: Mickey Mantle and Mike Trout.

July 28, 2021 Update

Patrick Mahomes continues his record-setting ways, but this time it’s in the memorabilia market.

A 2017 National Treasures NFL Shield Patrick Mahomes rookie autographed card sold at a private auction for $4.3 million, making it the most expensive NFL trading card sale to date.

The card is a BGS 8.5 and 1-of-1. It easily topped Tom Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contenders autographed card, which sold for $3.1 million.

JUST IN: @PWCCmarketplace the 2017 National Treasures NFL Shield Patrick Mahomes Rookie Auto 1/1 BGS 8.5 card for $4.3 million, the largest football card transaction to date. The card was acquired by the Ohio-based LJ’s Card Shop.

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) July 28, 2021

June 5 , 2021 Update

A week after getting knocked out of the top 10, Tom Brady is back.

Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship autographed rookie card sold for $3.1 million on Friday night. The BGS MINT 9 sold after getting 32 bids at Lelands. It is now the most expensive football card ever sold and the only one in the top 10.

The previous high for a Brady rookie card was $2.25 million.

$2,927,372: Current top bid tonight, including buyer’s premium, at @Lelandsdotcom for a signed Tom Brady Rookie Card (2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket).

When the bidding is done, it is guaranteed to be a new all-time record paid for a football card.

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) June 5, 2021

Falling off the list after Brady’s addition was one of the Honus Wagner T206 cards. That PSA 8 sold for $2.8 million.

May 27, 2021 Update

One of two existing 1979 Wayne Gretzky O-Pee-Chee rookie cards has been sold for $3.75 million to crack the list of top trading card sales of all time.

The card, which was sold at Heritage Auction, is the most expensive hockey card ever sold in a public auction.

The Gretzky addition knocked the Joe Garagiola T206 Honus Wagner card, which sold for $2.5 million. Four other Wagner cards remain in the top 10.

May 24, 2021 Update

The prices for Honus Wagner cards continue to soar as the most expensive Wagner card sold on Saturday at Goldin Auctions.

The Wagner card, a T206 White Border with a PSA grade 2, went for $3.75 million, topping the previous mark of $3.7 million for a T206 PSA 5.

Wagner now owns five of the top-10 spots on the list for most expensive trading card sold.

Adding the latest card to the list knocked Tom Brady’s rookie card off the board. Brady’s card sold for $2.25 million.

In other trading card news, the most expensive Michael Jordan card ever sold went for $2.1 million at Goldin Auctions. It was an autographed, game-used jersey card from the 1997 NBA All-Star Game.

This Michael Jordan card just sold at @GoldinAuctions for $2,103,300, a record for any Jordan card.

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 23, 2021

April 26, 2021 Update

Move over, Mickey Mantle. There’s company for the most expensive trading card sold to date.

A LeBron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite rookie patch autograph set a record for the most valuable basketball card ever sold and tied Mantle for most expensive card ever at $5.2 million. The card, sold by PWCC on April 26, was graded as a 9 mint.

April 3, 2021 Update

The first NFL player has made the list, and of course it’s Tom Brady.

Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket Autograph, graded a NM-MT+ 8.5, sold for over $2.25 million in an auction on Lelands early Saturday morning. The opening bid was $75,000 and there were 67 total bids on the card.

Brady’s addition to our top-10 list drops Kobe Bryant’s 1996-97 Topps Chrome  off the board, which sold for $1.79 million.

March 6, 2021 Update

A Kobe Bryant 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractor jumped Michael Jordan as the 10th-highest publicly known trading card sale of all time late Saturday, March 6.

The Bryant card sold for $1.79 million at Goldin Auctions, jumping Jordan’s $1.4 million 1997 autographed jersey card for No. 10 on our all-time list.

If Bryant’s card didn’t jump Jordan, another card did anyway. A LeBron James 2003-04 Rookie Patch autographed card also sold at Goldin Auctions for $1.5 million. A LeBron card currently holds the No. 9 slot on the chart above.

Feb. 28, 2021 Update

No matter how much things change or what new collectibles pop up, sometimes there’s no replacing that original sports trading card.

Trading card sales have been popular since Honus Wagner’s T206 became the first card to sell for $1 million in 2000. While that card has become the face of expensive sports cards, it’s actually not the biggest sale of all time.

That honor belongs to a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, which holds two spots among the top-10 sales of all time. It was first sold for $2.8 million in April of 2018. It then became the largest known sale of all time in January of 2021 when Rob Gough purchased it for $5.2 million.

On February 28, 2021, a Luka Doncic card became the second-highest sale ever known. Collector Nick Fiorello purchased a 1-of-1 autographed Doncic Logoman card for $4.6 million.

JUST IN: Collector Nick Fiorello has purchased this Luka Doncic 1/1 for $4.6 million.

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 28, 2021

That topped Mike Trout’s 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Superfractor autographed card selling for $3.9 million in August of 2020.

Wagner’s infamous card ranked No. 4 on the list at $3.1 million. It’s one of three Wagner T206 cards on the top-10 list. The ‘Gretzky Wagner’ was purchased in a private sale by Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick for $2.8 million in 2007, although he wasn’t revealed as the buyer until 2011.

The final Wagner on the list was sold on Feb. 27, 2021 for $2.5 million on Heritage Auctions. This Wagner is known as the ‘Garigiola Wagner’, as it was owned by former D-backs general manager Joe Garigiola.

A trio of NBA players round out the top 10, starting with Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Logoman that sold for $1.8 million. LeBron James’ rookie patch autographed card also sold for $1.8 million.

On Feb. 4, 2021, a Michael Jordan 1997 game-used jersey autographed card sold for $1.44 million.

Just missing the list is Wayne Gretzky’s 1979 O-Pee-Chee card which sold for $1.3 million. Currently, a 1996-97 Kobe Bryant Topps card is up for auction with a top bid over $1.2 million.

While some cards are sold privately and not known to the public, this list is what’s publicly known.

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