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This Week in Memorabilia Auctions: Michael Jordan, LeBron James & Albert Einstein Make Up Surprises, Disappointments & Unique Sales

This Week in Memorabilia Auctions: Michael Jordan, LeBron James & Albert Einstein Make Up Surprises, Disappointments & Unique Sales article feature image
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Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Jordan Fleer Rookie

It was a frenzied week in memorabilia auctions, so we’ve decided to delve into the surprises, disappointments and unique items that sold.

This week’s items range from Rafael Nadal’s used shoes to a Michael Jordan ticket. We’ve got Albert Einstein and Ronald Reagan, too.

Let’s start with the surprises of the week.

The Surprises

1. The Ronald Reagan “Geneva Summit” Putter — $150,000 at RR Auction

RR put an estimate of $100,000 on this putter used by then President Ronald Reagan aboard Air Force One on his way to the Geneva Summit with Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, which was the beginning of the end of the Cold War. It did much better than that.

SOLD! Ronald Reagan's 'Geneva Summit' #Golf Putter used on #AirForceOne sold for $150,000 @RRAuction. https://t.co/aFGE5Osnvl#RonaldReagan #Auction #RemarkableResults #Consign pic.twitter.com/wMSad5MGVs

— RR Auction (@RRAuction) June 24, 2022

2. 2019 Rafael Nadal French Open match used racket and shoes — $79,200 at Goldin Auctions

Match-used tennis items don’t particularly command a lot of money, as tennis isn’t typically something that is highly collected. This lot contained a pair of sneakers matched to Nadal’s fourth round and quarterfinals match, plus a racket that has been declared as used. If I were to take a guess of what this would command based on previous like-minded items, I would say this is a $20,000 piece. Four times that doesn’t seem right. It’s almost as if the winner thought this was matched to the final match, which it was not.

3. Michael Jordan UNC Debut — $26,200 at Heritage Auctions

Ticket debuts have been gobbled up by card collectors believing that a debut is the equivalent to a player’s rookie card. This 1981 UNC vs. Kansas season opener turns out to be MJ’s college debut, something that hasn’t hit the market before. Helped in part by TMZ writing about it, to see this go for more than $25,000 is wild.

Disappointments

1. LeBron James Flawless Logoman Card, $2.4 million at Goldin Auctions

It’s hard to call a modern day card selling for $2.4 million a disappointment, unless you marketed it as perhaps the most valuable card of all time, which was done here.

This card had several flaws, in my mind, that kept it from beating the $6.6 million Honus Wagner.

For one, it was hyped, but the Logoman isn’t embraced by all card collectors. The ones that do embrace it? The modern collectors, who are currently getting hammered. So the ones who most value it have seen their portfolio drop by half, if they’re lucky. They aren’t exactly lining up to buy this.

Secondly, the card had to be graded authentic after it was pulled out of the case Panini put it in, in less than mint condition. Although the sellers say it wouldn’t hurt the card, I can’t accept that.

2. 1984 Michael Jordan Ticketmaster Debut, $21,000, Heritage Auctions

We’ve seen Michael Jordan debuts sell for $468,000 and $264,000, but news of such prizes caused a surprising amount of Jordan debuts to emerge to the marketplace. There are, appropriately, 25 season ticket holder stubs graded by PSA and nine box office Ticketron debuts. Rally bought one of the best Ticketron debuts for $150,000 and that price that would put this ticket at about $40,000. But the number of debuts that have hit the market, combined with market conditions, made this a loser in the eyes of the auction house and a good buy for the winner.

3. Michael Jordan, 1986 Fleer, PSA 10, $204,000, Goldin Auctions

The modern day grail card is not holding up well. The price here is troublesome, but only if you realize that was likely propped up by someone who is already deep into this card. There wasn’t a single bid for this card in the final 13 days!

Here’s a chart of the 1986 Michael Jordan Fleer PSA 10’s that have been sold by Goldin over the last five months:

Date Sale Price
February 5 $288,000
March 12 $264,000
April 9 $252,000
May 21 $228,000
June 4 $222,000
June 25 $204,000

Unique Pieces

1. Albert Einstein Handwritten Mathematical Equations — $50,000 at RR

Authentic Albert Einstein items have been ticking up steadily, but the truth is, there are plenty of signed items out there. This item wasn’t signed, but it is truly breathtaking. It’s Einstein, in a letter, writing incredibly complex mathematical formulas. Given how beautiful it is, and Einstein’s growth of popularity in the collecting circles, it’s safe to say $50,000 here is a steal.

2. LeBron 2008 Olympics Credential — $9,000 at Goldin Auctions

A bunch of these have circulated and been sold, but these are really cool. They’re authentic copies of what the athletes wore around their neck during the 2008 games in Beijing. The copies were made by the Beijing Olympic Committee as someone was able to get some backups, but the printing on the badges shows that it wasn’t the original printing. That being said, it’s still an awesome value at less than $10,000

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