WAYNE GRETZKY HAS BEEN RETIRED FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN HE’S DONE RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOK. A GEM MINT CONDITION COPY OF THE GREAT ONE’S 1979-80 O-PEE-CHEE ROOKIE CARD SET A NEW STANDARD WHEN IT WAS SOLD FOR $1.29 MILLION IN DECEMBER BY HERITAGE AUCTIONS.
The Gretzky RC, one of just two to have received the top grade from PSA to date, is the first hockey card known to have sold for more than $1 million, a price that is, by far, the most ever paid for a hockey card. The previous record was $465,000 for the same PSA 10 OPC Gretzky RC. That mark was set four years ago when it was the only such card in existence.
Heritage raised more than a few eyebrows when it set the estimate for this auction at $1 million. It was shocking then to see the estimate turn out to be on the low side.
“The simple fact is, when collectors see the opportunity to add an unparalleled piece to their collections, you can throw estimates out the window,” said Chris Ivy, Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions. “That’s clear from the pre-auction estimates that were shattered during this session.”
Gretzky RCs aren’t particularly rare, and many hockey fans have one in their collection. Finding one in top condition, however, is a challenge that has vexed high-end collectors for decades.
The paper stock used by O- Pee-Chee was highly susceptible to print defects. Poor centering was a widespread issue. And the vast majority of copies have simply succumbed to wear and tear from casual handling over the past 40 years.
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