Why Investors Are Spending Big on Sports Trading Cards

As a new generation gets into sports memorabilia, auctioneer Ken Goldin — market maker, evangelist, therapist — is cashing in on priceless pieces of cardboard. Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw discusses with Caroline Hyde, Romaine Bostick & Joe Weisenthal.


“You buy them now because you think he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. So you pay 50 grand now, but you figure that’ll be worth 500k.”


Host: We’ve seen many assets soar during the pandemic, everything from digital art to crypto to, well, physical sports trading cards. So we saw a Kobe Bryant card, for example, sell for over a million dollars. It feels pretty old school to actually have real cards, not NFT version is doing pretty well.

Host: $1.75 million. I guess it makes sense. I mean, look, if you even if want to sell for 10 million, maybe NFT plus a piece of cardboard. Yeah, sort of. It’s actually a real. It’s pretty cool. 1996 All right. Joining us for more, Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw from Los Angeles. I remember like reading a little while ago about sports cars take off. And I couldn’t really believe it. Like I thought, it must be like some joke. And people like raiding all the stores for their unopened packs. But I guess it’s real, like, what is it like? Just nostalgia. People just want to collect anything these days.

Shaw: I think there’s a young collector that looks it looks at sports trading cards, kind of like they look at Fantasy sports or like gambling, where it used to be that you would collect the really old player. Like the most famous card is this Honus Wagner card from the early 20th century that can sell for $4 or $5 million. Now, people want to buy LeBron James. They want to buy Kevin Durant, or they even want to buy young rookie cards. And so you buy a Ja Morant is a guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. You buy them now because you think he’s going to be a Hall of Famer. So you pay 50 grand now, but you figure that’ll be worth 500 and years.

Host: OK, talk to us about, you know, the amount of chunk of change that’s being spent on these right now. And in aggregate, is it. We just have an enormous amount spent on one Kobe Bryant, one I’m looking at one that sold for 4.6 million for another key player, like how are we seeing the money, add up?

Shaw: So the estimate is that in 2021 the sports collectibles business will be about $10 billion. The majority of that 10 billion will be spent on trading cards. eBay is one of the biggest generic sellers of these things in auctions, which has established itself. Now, as the biggest individual auction house devoted to this is on track for $500 million in sales alone. You know, at an auction in May, where I think they sold $50 million worth of material. And in March, it was $40 million. In January is 30 million. The numbers keep going up.

*Bloomberg contributed to this content

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