According to CBS Sports, a signed 2003 James Exquisite Collection patch rookie card has sold for a record-breaking $5.2 million in a private sale by PWCC Marketplace.
Luka Doncic Panini National Treasures Card held the previous record for the most expensive NBA card set. In 2018, the card sold for a record fee of $4.6 million in a private sale. CBS Sports reports that the James Rookie Card is one of just 23 cards in existence.
ESPN reports that the sale ties the all-time record sale for any card with the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card purchased by Rob Gough.
“This was actually in the works for a while,” Jesse Craig, PWCC’s director of business development, told action network. “The demand for rare cards, especially basketball right now, is just like the demand for fine art.”
He further noted that despite demand for the rookie card being low in recent times, the high-end cards are still making record sales.
The sports card traces its origin to 2003-2004 Upper Deck Exquisite Basketball. “Combining the now staple Rookie Patch Autographs with arguably the greatest draft class in NBA history, Exquisite gave rise to every elite brand on the market today,” according to PWCC Marketplace. “At the heart of every collector in 2003, was the hope of pulling the ultra-rare Lebron card ever sold.”
PWCC added: “At the heart of every collector in 2003, was the hope of pulling the ultra-rare Lebron James Rookie Patch Auto Parallel numbered to 23 copies. With so few ever becoming available and demand increasing by the day, this card is quickly becoming the crown jewel of all sports card investing.”
Craig said most owners of the rarest James cards do not want to sell them because they want to capitalize on the rise of the market. “The majority don’t want to sell,” Craig said. “There are a select few that want to capitalize on the rise of the market, but it has to be kind of the perfect storm for someone to release a card of this magnitude.”
One such person is Collector Aaron Davis who has two of James cards: a one-of-one 2003-04 Ultimate Collection LeBron Logoman RPA and a 9.5 BGS-graded version of the James record-breaking card.