NBA: LeBron James has managed to set another record while being on the longest injury stretch of his career. LeBron James Rookie Card becomes Most Expensive RPA, Sells for a Whopping $5.2 million
A 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection RPA (rookie patch autograph) identical LeBron James card, numbered out of 23, was sold privately for $5.2 million with PWCC Marketplace.
“Exquisite was a revolutionary product when it came out in 2003,” said Jesse Craig, PWCC’s director of business development. “It was the most expensive retail product that had ever been released, at $500 a box, and they were only made from 2003 to 2009; the rarity of those assets carries a lot of weight for collectors and investors today.”
Most owners of the unique James cards do not want to part with them.
LeBron James rookie card sets record
The Beckett Grading Services-graded 9 card (with a comprehensive 10 signature) maintains the throne for most expensive basketball card, knocking off the $4.6 million one-of-one 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luka Doncic Logoman RPA sold in March.
In February 2020 and then in July 2020, sequentially, more than one James card held the record for most expensive basketball card: first a James/Michael Jordan dual Logoman ($900,000) and then another version of the same record-breaking James parallel.
That 9.5 James, one of two ever graded that high by Beckett, sold for $1.85 million and was briefly the world’s most expensive sports card until the famed 2009 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome Superfractor obliterated the record with its $3.94 million price tag in August.
The leap from $1.85 million to $5.2 million for approximately the same card discourses to how ascendant James’ hobby stock still is, especially his RPAs.
“The majority don’t want to sell,” Craig said. “There are a select few that want to capitalize on the rise of the market, but it has to be kind of the perfect storm for someone to release a card of this magnitude.”
He equated having the James one-of-one as having nabbed “LeBron’s whale,” and he has “no immediate plans to sell” yet.
“There are LeBron cards [still] out there, I would say, worth over $10 million,” Craig said. “And let’s be clear: There are three Mantle PSA 10s that, whenever they transact, will break every record there is. But as a market, there are so many desirable cards that haven’t sold yet publicly.”
“It really helps when sales like these happen,” Craig continued. “It just instills confidence that there are really high-end buyers out there. And these cards are starting to get recognition as the pieces of fine art that they [are].”