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Ultra-rare Kobe Bryant Rookie Card Sells for Record Price at Goldin Auctions

The pristine-rated 1996-97 Topps card fetched almost $1.8 million, the most ever paid for a Kobe Bryant trading card.

On Saturday night, a Kobe Bryant rookie card sold for $1.795 million online at Goldin Auctions, breaking the record for the most expensive trading card ever solid depicting the late, legendary Laker.

The card, officially known as the 1996-97 Topps Chrome Refractors #138, is notable for being just one of two of its kind to have earned the perfect 10 “pristine” rating from Beckett, designated by a special black label.

Black label, Black Mamba. Nothing could be more appropriate.

As Darren Rovell notes at The Action Network, the card now enters the top 10 of the most expensive trading cards ever sold, checking in right behind an autographed 2003-04 LeBron James “rookie patch” card that went for almost $1.85 million last summer.

It’s now the fourth-most expensive basketball card sale of all time.

“[Kobe]’s rookie card is one of the rarest in existence and one of only two on earth in black label pristine condition, which is the highest possible obtainable grade,” said Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “The fact that it sold for the final auction price of $1.795 million, the all-time record for any Kobe Bryant card, speaks to just how beloved he was around the world.”

The GOAT-worthy sale comes on the heels of Kobe’s childhood basketball hoop from suburban Philadelphia selling at auction for $37,200.

There’s no doubt about it: He may have left us far too soon, but it’s always Kobe season.

5 Most Expensive Basketball Cards Ever Sold

As of 7 March 2021

#1: Luka Doncic 2018-19 National Treasures “Logoman,” $4.6 million

#2: Giannis Antetokounmpo 2013-14 “Logoman” 1:1 autographed, $1.857 million

#3: LeBron James 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection “Rookie Patch” autographed #138, $1.845 million

#4: Kobe Bryant 1997-98 Topps Chrome Refractors “Black Label,” $1.7958 million

#5: LeBron James Upper Deck Exquisite Collection “Rookie Patch” autographed #78, $1.5375 million

About The Author
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is the Managing Editor of Boardroom. Before joining the team, he was an editor and multimedia talent for several sports and culture verticals at Minute Media and an editor, reporter, and site manager at SB Nation. A specialist in content strategy, copywriting, and SEO, he has additionally worked as a digital consultant in the corporate services, retail, and tech industries. He cannot be expected to be impartial on any matter regarding the Florida Gators or Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter @RealFakeSamDunn.