Case of hockey cards, including rare Oilers Gretzky rookie cards, sells for $5 million at auction

Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
4 months ago
A Saskatchewan family scored big over the weekend when a case of 1979 hockey cards they found in their attic sold at auction for more than $5 million CAD.
The case held unopened boxes of 1979 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards, a set that included what is widely known in the hockey collectibles community as one of the most valuable pieces: Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers rookie card.
As the CBC reported on Sunday, individual Gretzky rookie cards in mint condition have sold at auction for as much as $3.75 million CAD — and this particular case of hockey memorabilia has been estimated to include as many as 27 Gretzky rookie cards.
All that added up to the case being sold via the Heritage Auctions platform on Sunday for a staggering $3.1 million USD ($4.18 million CAD), with a 20 percent buyers premium taking the total remittance up to a record-breaking $3.72 million USD ($5.02 million CAD).
The winning bidder, a Canadian who has chosen to remain anonymous, successfully beat out 14 other unique bidders for the treasure trove of hockey memorabilia.
The family selling the cards has also chosen to remain anonymous. Jason Simonds, a specialist for Heritage Auctions, spoke to the CBC on the family’s behalf over the weekend and said they were “over the moon” with the result of the bidding.
“I was texting with them last night. We stayed up until about one in the morning when the bidding ended,” Simonds said. “The family is ecstatic, this is life-changing money.
“This had surpassed even our wildest expectations,” Simonds added. “$3.72 million [USD] is something that is very rarely seen in this industry. It’s one of the highest-priced items ever sold at Heritage, and it’s certainly the highest price sold unopened item in the sports collectibles market.”
Although none of the boxes of cards sold in this lot have been opened, Simonds speculated that it could happen if and when the buyer re-sells the individual boxes to collectors — likely for a hefty sum. He called it “the most significant find of Canadian cards we have seen in the past 20 years.”
Gretzky, 63, spent a decade with the Oilers after initially joining them from the Indianapolis Racers early in the 1978-79 season. After scoring 104 points in 72 games with the Oilers during their final year in the World Hockey Association, Gretzky moved to the NHL along with the team the following year and proceeded to set nearly every scoring record in the league. He won the Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1984, 1985, 1987, and 1988.

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