Rare T-206 Honus Wagner baseball card sold for record $7.25 million in private sale

ByDAN HAJDUCKY via <a href="http://espn.go.com/" title="ESPN" class="espn_sc_byline">ESPN </a> via via logo
August 04, 2022, 4:59 PM

Collectibles marketplace Goldin announced on Thursday that a T-206 Honus Wagner has sold in a private sale for $7.25 million, a record amount for a sports card.

The figure eclipsed the $6.606 million fetched for another T-206 Wagner almost a year ago to the day.

The version of the Wagner that sold recently was graded a 2 out of 10 by Sportscard Guaranty Corp., or SGC; the 2021 record-breaker received a 3 from SGC.

"There is nothing on this earth like a T-206 card," said Ken Goldin, executive chairman and founder of Goldin, in a statement. "There's a reason why no Wagner card has ... sold for less than it was previously purchased for -- the card is art, it's history, it's folklore."

The folklore of the card hinges on its uber-rarity (somewhere between 50 and 60 copies exist) and multiple theories on why so few Wagners exist, including:

  • Wagner's printing plate breaking during production
  • A copyright dispute between artist and tobacco company
  • The most popular theory, offered up by Wagner's family and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, is that Wagner didn't want to promote smoking tobacco to children and asked the card be pulled from production
  • The most logical theory is Wagner realized he wouldn't be compensated fairly for his name, image and likeness and objected

No matter the reason(s), so few copies have made it to 2022 that the Wagner is routinely called the holy grail or Mona Lisa of trading cards.

"The T-206 is one of the reasons I do what I do," Goldin concluded.

While the sale is currently the overall record, there is a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card consigned to Heritage Auctions that closes in just over three weeks; it is sitting at $7.08 million with buyer's premium and is expected to near or eclipse $10 million at close.

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