Nearly two decades after his retirement, the Great One is still obliterating records.
The best-known example of Wayne Gretzky's 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee rookie card is up for auction and the early action has been historic. Bidding for the card, which is being offered by Goldin Auctions, already has reached $200,000, more than double the previous record for a modern hockey card.
Estimates suggest the bidding could reach $400,000 by the time the card is finally sold. That's a staggering leap from the then-record $94,163 that the card last traded for back in May, 2011.
"The card is the flag bearer for the hockey market," said Ken Goldin, president of Goldin Auctions. "It is the most valuable and most sought after hockey card, by far."
Gretzky rookies aren't particularly hard to come by, especially if you don't mind a copy that looks like it was carried in a kid's back pocket for a month. But high quality copies are few and far between and demand is rising. Goldin says that lesser copies of the card, which sold for around $5,000 just five years ago, are now averaging nearly $30,000 each.
But this card is one-of-a-kind. According to PSA, a company that independently assesses the condition of cards, it has graded 3,727 copies of the O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookie card. This is the only one to earn the highest score, a PSA 10. By way of comparison, three copies of Mickey Mantle's most desirable card, his 1952 Topps, have earned a similar PSA 10.
What makes this Gretzky stand out are the nearly straight edges. Virtually all copies of this card are rough cut, reportedly because the company used wires to separate individual cards from printing sheets.
Online bidding continues through 1 p.m. on Aug. 4, with live bidding concluding later that evening at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City.