Freeman Cebu Sports

Insane prices for sports memorabilia

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

At some point in time, we collected things, displayed some but mostly stuffed them into shoeboxes. Hobbyists today, mostly baby boomers and some Gen Xers who have the money to burn, are hot on sports memorabilia that according to Robb Report, a luxury lifestyle magazine, it has rivaled the art market, complete with “appraisers, rating agencies, authenticators, specialized insurance, leased vaults and elite security systems.”

If your collection is valued in millions of dollars, of course you need top notch security systems. Ultra high-end collectors have their homes with waterless fire suppression systems that suck the oxygen out of their storage rooms to put out the fire.

Cards, jerseys, baseball bats and gloves, helmets, caps, arena floors and seats, boxing gloves and trunks and anything related to sports once only go for thousands at auctions but today, there is a need to have several millions if you want to gamble and win this game.

Professional players could wear up to 4 jerseys a week.  Teams then have them autographed and sell them along with other merchandise as additional sources of income.  Sometimes, these game-used items and memorabilia are given to charity auctions.

Let’s start with Michael Jordan’s famous “flu game” during the fifth game of the 1997 NBA Finals.  A severe case of influenza notwithstanding, MJ scored 38 points.  Taking IV fluids in the locker room, MJ gave his used red and black Jordan 12s to a lucky ballboy. 

In 2013, the former ballboy sold the autographed J12s for $104,765.  In June of last year, it was auctioned again, and the winning bidder had it for $1.38 million.

In May 2022, Argentina football legend Diego Maradona’s 1986 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal jersey used in a match against England made the record when an anonymous bidder bought it for $9.3 million.  Just four months later, an unknown bidder paid $10.1 million for MJ’s Finals jersey in his last season with the Bulls in 1998, breaking the Maradona jersey record.

Another Argentine great had his set of six jerseys he wore in their winning campaign during the 2022 Qatar World Cup.   Auctioned online last December at Sotheby’s New York, Lionel Messi’s set of jerseys fetched $7.8 million.  Also at Sotheby’s last November, Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama’s white jersey which he wore in his debut game against Dallas was sold to the winning bidder for $762,000.

Babe Ruth’s baseball bat used during the 1920s sold for $400,800 in 2018.  Early last year, someone paid $1.85 million for it.

Muhammad Ali’s championship belt he won over George Foreman in the historic 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” held in what was formerly known as Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is considered as one of the most expensive pieces of sports memorabilia.  It sold for $6.2 million in 2022.  I wonder how much the Pacman’s memorabilia will fetch.

Coming in “cheap” was the autographed Converse All Star shoes worn by Magic Johnson when he played for the Dream Team at Barcelona 1992.  It sold in May for a bargain price of $61,200.

A California billionaire in 2021 paid for Kobe Bryant’s signed game used LA Lakers rookie jersey which he wore during the 1996-1997 season.

The figures are real.  These are the things money can insanely buy.

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