Gretzky card sells for $3.75M, shatters record

  • ESPN staff writer
  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • Graduated from Central Michigan

A 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card has sold for $3.75 million in a private sale brokered through Heritage Auctions.

The card was graded a Gem Mint 10 and blew past the previous record for a hockey card, which was just set this past December when the same version of the Gretzky card sold for $1.29 million, also with Heritage Auctions. The card that sold in December had previously sold for $465,000 in 2016 and $94,000 in 2011.

“There are just a handful of cards out there to reach such stratospheric heights, and they bear such names as Mickey Mantle, LeBron James, Mike Trout, Honus Wagner and Michael Jordan,” said Dan Imler, Heritage Sports’ vice president of private sales and consignments. “It’s only fitting that the greatest hockey player of all time, and one of the most beloved and revered athletes of the 20th century, join their estimable ranks.”

Those two cards are the only O-Pee-Chee versions of this rookie card graded as Gem Mint 10s in PSA’s population report, with 89 graded as a 9. There are also two Topps versions of this card graded as a 9, and the most recent Gretzky Topps rookie card sold for $720,000 in December.

O-Pee-Chee was a Canadian company that worked with Topps to distribute similar cards in Canada, so while they are very similar cards, there are some minor differences between the two — and the O-Pee-Chee cards have garnered more money in recent sales.

Both the buyer and seller wished to remain anonymous, but the buyer discussed the new purchase and called the card a “white whale.”

“Throughout many years of collecting, this card has always been our ‘white whale,'” the buyer said. “Our family is thrilled to become the new guardians of this world-class hobby treasure.”

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