Heritage Auctions claims to have sold a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookie card to an anonymous buyer for US $ 3.75 million.
The previous record for a hockey card was set on December 11, 2020 when Heritage sold the only other of two Gretzky rookie cards to receive a perfect “gem mint” score from Professional Sports Authenticator for $ 1.29 million.
It marked the first hockey card to go for over a million dollars.
The online auction house said “gem mint” cards were the only two to achieve this score out of 5,711 PSAs assessed. By comparison, there are over 300 NBA great Michael Jordan rookie cards by Fleer with the same “gem mint” rating.
The known record for a sports card sale came earlier this year when a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball rookie card sold for $ 5.2 million through the PWCC Marketplace.
Chris Ivy, sports director of Heritage Auctions, says the item’s rarity increases the price.
“(This) is not surprising given the rarity and importance of this card,” Ivy said in a statement. “After all, there are only two examples. And this is Wayne Gretzky. “
The card features Gretzky in his Edmonton Oilers uniform during the team’s final World Hockey Association season before the franchise joined the NHL.
Gretzky, 60, from Brantford, Ont., Stepped down as vice-president for the Oilers this week to take a job as a hockey television analyst for Turner Sports.
Turner and ESPN are taking over American television rights to the NHL from the NBA next season.
Ivy told The Canadian Press in December that it was extremely rare to find a Gretzky rookie card from O-Pee-Chee, which was essentially the Canadian branch of US-based Topps in pristine condition due to production problems in the late 1970s.
“Ninety percent of the cards coming out of the factory would not be considered ‘gemstones’ by current grading standards,” Ivy said. “They used recycled cardboard which chipped easily, they were off-center and there were a lot of printing defects. “
A 1979 Gretzky Topps rookie card using the same image and filed with the same “gem mint” designation also sold for $ 720,000 at the same Heritage auction in December. PSA reviewed 6,048 Gretzky cards from this 1979 series and again found only two worthy of its highest rating.
Ivy said that while the Topps card is slightly rarer, O-Pee-Chee sits at the top of the heap for collectors.
“O-Pee-Chee has always outperformed Topps in hockey just because it’s the Canadian brand,” he said. “They’re basically the same cards, but hockey is Canada’s national sport.
“If you collect hockey cards, collectors want O-Pee-Chee. “
A four-time Stanley Cup winner, Gretzky retired from the NHL in 1999 with a record 894 goals, 1,963 assists and 2,857 points.