LOS ANGELES • A rare trading card of National Basketball Association (NBA) great LeBron James' 2003-04 rookie campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers fetched US$1.84 million (S$2.56 million) at auction over the weekend, the league has said.
Bidding for the Upper Deck card began at US$150,000 before it became not only the most expensive basketball card ever purchased, but also the most expensive trading card in the modern era - those produced in 1980 or later.
"Only 23 versions of the Patch Autograph Parallel collection for James were ever produced. The rare card received a 9.5 mint gem grading from Beckett grading service," the NBA said.
"Numbered 14 of 23, the card attracted 34 bids over the course of the 26-day auction."
Darren Rovell of sports media company Action Network said the winning bidder was Leore Avidar, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Lob.com, a San Francisco-based technology company.
Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, told ESPN that he was not surprised by the final price of the card, which was autographed by the 35-year-old Los Angeles Lakers forward, and was "happy with the results".
He said: "When you're talking about a card that was literally produced 17 years ago and is for a guy still playing in the NBA, it's just shocking news to a lot of people."
The record sale surpassed a previous mark set in May when Goldin sold a Bowman Draft Chrome Red Refractor Mike Trout signed rookie baseball card, one of only five produced, for US$922,500 and he feels that the value of sought-after basketball cards in mint condition will continue to skyrocket.
"I have a tremendous amount of overseas bidders from China; we've had bidders from the Middle East, bidders from Australia and from Europe," he told ESPN.
"With basketball, it could be as much as 50 to 60 per cent overseas bidding because it's more of a worldwide sport.
"It's growing, and I believe potentially could have more growth than baseball in the collectability aspect of it."