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Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Sells for $1.8 Million at Auction

A Kobe Bryant rookie card sold for $1,795,800 at auction on Saturday, the most expensive for a card of the Lakers legend and one of the most expensive for a basketball card ever sold.

According to Goldin Auctions, the "1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractors #138 Kobe Bryant Rookie Card — BGS PRISTINE/Black Label 10" is one of just two makes in the world and qualified for a prestigious "black label" recognition.

The identity of the card's buyer has not been released.

According to ESPN, Bryant cards increased in value by 600% in the weeks after his death in January 2020. The exact same copy of this particular card had previously sold for $58,100 on eBay in March 2016.

In the same Goldin's 2021 Winter Auction, which saw the Bryant card sell for for nearly $1.8 million, an Upper Deck 2003-'04 "Exquisite Collection" LeBron James card sold for more than $1..5 million. Another one-of-one 2004-'05 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Ultimate Signatures Logos LeBron James card sold for $1.29 million.

Sports cards have experience a boom of late, and earlier this week a rookie card displaying NFL legend Tom Brady sold for $1.32 million, making it the most expensive trading card in football history. Still both the Brady card and Bryant cards have a ways to go before holding the record for most expensive card sold. That belongs to a rare Mickey Mantle card, which sold for $5.2 million this past January.