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“One of the rarest that exist”


Memories of Kobe Bryant have always been popular. From the moment he entered the league as an 18-year-old top-flight player, until he retired as the leading scorer in Los Angeles Lakers history, fans have wanted owning everything related to the Black Mamba.

The love for Bryant extends to the world of collectible cards. In 2021, a rookie card cost more money than any other Kobe card. So much money, in fact, that a young Kobe would be jealous of where the total was compared to his salary.

Kobe Bryant rookie card sold for record amount

In March 2021, a Kobe Bryant rookie card has been sold on Goldin Auctions, an online auction house and sports memorabilia repository. This was a 1996-97 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card – BGS Pristine / Black Label 10 Topps Chrome Refractors # 138 card, featuring the # 8 Bryant attempting a shot against a Minnesota Timberwolves player.

Although the buyer is unknown, the cost of the card was $ 1.795 million, making it the most expensive Bryant card ever sold. The $ 1.8 million card earned Perfect 10s in categories such as centering, corners, edges, and area, qualifying it for rare ‘Black Label’ recognition.

“Kobe Bryant was one of the fiercest contestants of all time and a truly larger-than-life character,” noted Ken Goldin, Founder of Goldin Auctions. “His rookie card is one of the rarest in existence and one of only two in the world in pristine black mark condition, which is the highest rating possible. The fact that it sold for the final auction price of $ 1.795 million, Kobe Bryant’s all-time record for any card, shows how much he was loved around the world.

It’s a total that would have made a young Kobe green with envy. When Bryant entered the league in 1996, his rookie contract paid him roughly $ 3.5 million over three years, an average of $ 1.17 million per season.

Kobe Bryant’s card value skyrocketed after his death

After Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, Requirement for all its merchandise has skyrocketed. Stores like Macy’s, Foot Locker, and Champ’s have seen Kobe merchandise roll out of the store. Others like Nike and Mitchell & Ness have also faced much increased demand. The best example to see how the death of the Hall of Fame impacted demand – and supply – is follow the timeline On ebay.

On the morning of January 26, the name “Kobe Bryant” returned approximately 30,000 results on eBay. 24 hours later, after news of his passing reached almost everyone, it rose to around 57,000. As of February 1, there were around 82,500 Kobe-related listings on eBay.

Everything from autographs to the jerseys worn by the game, and yes, the collectible cards, were on sale like never before. Based on eBay sales data, the value of Bryant’s cards rose 600% just two weeks after his death.

“It’s not something I want to capitalize on” noted Rick Probstein, one of the best sellers of sports cards and memorabilia on eBay. “But I am a broker for people who want [me] to sell.”

Kobe’s rare rookie card isn’t the most expensive basketball card ever sold

Kobe’s pristine rookie card set a record for its own cards, but it wasn’t close to being the most expensive card we’ve seen in NBA history. That honor belongs to Golden State Warriors goalie Steph Curry.

In July 2021, a unique “Logoman” card from rookie Steph Curry 2009 sold for $ 5.9 million. He broke the previously set record in April 2021, when a rare rookie card signed by LeBron James was privately purchased for $ 5.2 million. This is at least the third time the record has been set this year alone, as a unique Luka Doncic autographed card was sold two months before James for $ 4.6 million.

“The enthusiasm for collectible cards and memorabilia has never been higher,” Goldin said after the sale of the Bryant card. “And as even more people recognize the incredible investment opportunity these assets offer, we anticipate that interest will only grow.”

Bryant’s rookie card is one of the most expensive in basketball history, even though it’s a few million behind LeBron and Luka. But depending on the collectable card trend, expect another Kobe card to cost a few million or more in the not-so-distant future.

All contract figures are courtesy of Spotrac.

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