Mickey Mantle baseball card sells for record $12.6 million

New York, New York - New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle is still breaking records.

A trading card of the late, great Mickey Mantle sold for a record $12.6 million on Saturday.
A trading card of the late, great Mickey Mantle sold for a record $12.6 million on Saturday.  © PAUL BUCK / AFP

A mint-condition 1952 trading card of the pinstriped slugger sold Saturday for a record $12.6 million, the highest price ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia.

"[We'd] proclaim that this trading card represents the quintessence of every metric that has historically been used to measure value in the collectibles marketplace," reads the description from Heritage Auctions.

"This is real rarity, not a machine-stamped 'One of One' on a card printed last year. This is real significance – the cross-section of a defining moment in trading card and baseball history. This is the finest example thereof. This is a spectacular long-shot miracle of the collectible marketplace, deserving of its inevitable return to global headlines and that same question that haunts all record auction sales, spoken in all the languages of the world."

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The seller, Anthony Giordano, who works in New Jersey waste management, bought it for $50,000 at a New York City show in 1991.

The $12.6 million mark shattered the $9.3 million price tag for the jersey soccer star Diego Maradona wore when he scored the Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup, which previously held the memorabilia record. A buyer spent $6.2 million for the heavyweight boxing belt Muhammad Ali won after beating George Foreman in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle.

A century-old Honus Wagner card recently sold for $7.25 million, which at the time was the record for a card.

Mantle card is "finest known example"

The Yankees won seven of their 27 World Series rings with Mantle in center field.
The Yankees won seven of their 27 World Series rings with Mantle in center field.  © Collage: PAUL BUCK / AFP & MARK D. PHILLIPS / AFP

The Mantle card, from his first full season, was discovered in 1986 by a forklift operator who told Alan Rosen, a famous Boston-area collector, that a friend had found a box of cards, including the pristine Mantle card, in his dad's house where it had been sitting for decades.

Rosen bought the lot: 5,500 1952 Topps cards for $125,000, including dozens of Mantles.

Years after buying it himself, Giordano eventually got this card graded, coming back with a 9.5 grade from SGC, making it the "finest known example" of that specific card.

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"This card is arguably the finest-condition example of the most iconic post-war card in the world," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, said in a statement. "That grade, plus the fact it has documented provenance from the most storied find in hobby history, puts this card in a category of its own."

Emmy Award-winning director Dan Klein is working on a documentary about the card, called Four Perfect Corners, according to Heritage Auctions.

Mantle, who died in 1995, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, going down in history as one of the best switch-hitters to ever take the field. Across 18 seasons, all with the Yankees, he racked up 2,415 hits and 536 home runs, as well as the 1956 Triple Crown and three MVP awards.

With Mantle roaming center field, the Yankees won seven of their 27 World Series rings, taking home October glory in 1951, '52, '53, '56, '58, '61, and '62.

Cover photo: PAUL BUCK / AFP

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