A venture capitalist who spent a staggering $5.2 million on an ancient rookie picture of a 1950s baseball player has hinted at the spiraling sports card market by claiming the deal was a bargain, leaving fans stunned at the price.
Businessman and actor Rob Gough, who runs the Dope cannabis and cannabidiol empire, spent almost twice as much on the card of bygone baseball star Mickey Mantle as the artefact had sold for in 2018.
NFL Super Bowl champion Evan Mathis flogged the card for $2.88 million back then, and the vast outlay by Gough represents a huge leap from the previous record sale for a sports card, which was only set in August when a signed picture of Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout sold for $3.93 million.
“I’ve always wanted this card,” Gough told Forbes, speaking after snapping up the item which was graded as a nine on the scale between one and ten of auction memorabilia.
A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 9 rookie card sold for a record-setting $5.2 million last November, beating out the one-of-a-kind Mike Trout card that went for $3.9 million in August. pic.twitter.com/YMQM8F5lYL
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) January 14, 2021
“I’ve been searching for this ‘Holy Grail,’ the Mona Lisa of sports cards. I finally got the 9.”
One owner reportedly turned down a $20 million offer for a card that was rated as a ten, suggesting that extremely rare cards could become even more lucrative in the future.
Entrepreneur Gough counts some of the world’s leading sports stars among his friends, claiming that “blood couldn’t make [us] any closer” when he described his relationship with NFL star Von Miller last year.
He has also partied with Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Joe Haden and pictured himself having dinner at a restaurant with NHL star Evander Kane on Instagram.
Gough said he “had to scoop” his newest possession, calling it “massively undervalued” and “a steal”. “I think I got a tremendous deal on this card,” he added.
Multi-millionaire and social media sensation Gary Vaynerchuk asked his Twitter following of more than 2.2 million: “What does this do for semi modern legendary cards like [Michael Jordan] and [Lionel] Messi and even vintage like [Muhammad] Ali and Pele? Interesting times ahead.”
There are thought to be only six of the Mantle cards in existence, originally made by creators Topps in their first year of production, in 1952.
The all-time record for a hockey card was set last month, when a depiction of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky from 1979 sold for $1.29 million.
In July, a LeBron James rookie NBA card from 2003-04 sold for $1.8 million, setting the record for a basketball card.