High-Stakes Auction: CGC 9.9 Sports Illustrated Capture World’s Attention

The market for graded magazines, especially those of Sports Illustrated, has seen a surge in interest within the collectibles industry. Certified Collectibles Group (CGC) has been at the forefront of this trend for the past 15 years, having evaluated over 28,000 issues of SI. This growing passion for preserved sports history encapsulated in graded magazines is opening up new possibilities for collectors and investors alike.

At the peak of the magazine pricing spectrum was a 9.8 graded newsstand copy of the December 10, 1984 Sports Illustrated issue featuring Michael Jordan in his Chicago Bulls debut. Titled “A Star is Born,” this particular cover, among the more than 2,000 SI issues graded at 9.8, fetched an impressive $126,000. However, the record is poised for a challenge with the emergence of a new milestone in magazine grading.

In a groundbreaking move, CGC bestowed a rare 9.9 grade upon a December 2022 issue of Sports Illustrated showcasing soccer sensation Kylian Mbappé just before the 2022 World Cup. This exceptional grading was presented to a magazine submitted by a collector from the Midwest, marking the first SI issue to receive such a prestigious score. The magazine is set to be auctioned through Goldin, drawing significant attention to this unique piece.

Goldin recognizes the immense potential in the market for graded magazines and has even established a dedicated category for these coveted items. The Director of Vintage Memorabilia and Photography at Goldin highlights that the appeal of these magazines transcends sports fans, attracting photography enthusiasts, given the contributions of renowned photographers to the iconic covers over the years.

The spotlight is currently on the issue featuring Mbappé, one of two cover versions produced, with the alternative cover showcasing the US soccer team. As the auction progresses towards its closing date on June 8, bids for the Mbappé cover have already reached an impressive $1,708, foreshadowing a potentially record-breaking sale.

In addition to the highly anticipated SI issue, the auction includes other notable items such as a 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle card graded at 8.5, a unique 1956 Floyd Patterson card graded at 9.0, a 1989 SI for Kids featuring Michael Jordan graded at 9.6, and a signed Muhammad Ali cover from 1967, adding to the allure of this event.

While the majority of graded magazines find their way to buyers through platforms like eBay, where over 6,000 listings can be found, significant sales also take place during specialized auctions. For instance, a CGC 9.6 graded issue featuring soccer icon Pele from 1975 was sold for $25,000 in March 2023, while a 1986 Mike Tyson cover graded at 9.0 fetched over $11,000 last year. Notably, four of the top six highest-selling graded SIs on eBay since last year prominently featured Michael Jordan on the cover, underscoring the enduring popularity of the basketball great.

The escalating interest in graded magazines signifies the varied tastes of collectors and the evolving landscape of sports memorabilia as a valuable investment. With each auction and sale, these preserved pieces of history continue to captivate enthusiasts and investors alike, bridging the worlds of sports, photography, and collectibles in a unique and compelling manner.