Top 10 most expensive sports memorabilia in history

Attention, sports fans! Have you ever wondered what it takes to snag a piece of sports history?

While it might cost you a small fortune, these items hold value beyond mere monetary worth, encapsulating the passion, skill, and sheer brilliance of the athletes who once graced the field.

Content Manager at Laura Simpson, not only liaises with casino and sportsbook operators to negotiate top UK no deposit casino deals, but happens to have quite the collection of sports memorabilia herself: 

‘I love a good piece of history. Apart from giving the item itself character, there’s usually a fantastic story behind every piece of memorabilia collected. And you really can’t put a price on that now, can you?’

From game-worn jerseys to epic trading cards, we’re breaking down the most outrageously expensive sports memorabilia in history.

1. James Naismith's 1891 Rules of Basketball - $4.3M

The Naismith International Basketball Foundation auctioned James Naismith's 1891 rules of basketball document at Sotheby's in New York to support their charity.

The buyers, David and Suzanne Booth, generously gifted it to the University of Kansas, where Naismith coached for four decades. David Booth, a devoted KU graduate, acquired the rules as a tribute to Naismith's legacy.

The sale set a record at $4.3 million, surpassing the 1999 mark held by a $3 million baseball associated with Mark McGwire's single-season home run record.

2. Luka Doncic Rookie Card - $4.6M

The Slovenian sensation had previously established the record for the priciest basketball card ever when it was auctioned in 2021, fetching a staggering $4.6 million.

3. LeBron James Autographed Rookie Card - $5.2M 

Considered by many as the pinnacle player in NBA history, the basketball legend's autographed rookie card shattered the record for the highest-priced basketball card ever, commanding an astounding $5.2 million within a two-month period of its sale.

4. Babe Ruth 1928-30 Jersey - $5.64M 

Babe Ruth stands as one of the most recognized and celebrated figures in Major League Baseball, holding the career home run record for nearly four decades and propelling the New York Yankees to a century of dominance in the game.

In 2019, the Ruth family collaborated with Hunt Auctions to organize a live auction featuring previously unreleased artifacts from the baseball legend.

This auction presented an impressive array of 400 items, including Babe Ruth's jersey worn during the 1928-1930 seasons.

The jersey, unseen in the market until then, fetched an astounding $5.64 million, surpassing his own record-setting jersey price by over $1 million.

5. Muhammad Ali's 1974 WBC Heavyweight Championship Belt -  $6.18M

In 1974, Ali faced George Foreman in the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" for the Heavyweight Championship.

Demonstrating masterful strategy, Ali systematically wore down Foreman throughout the match, setting the stage for a decisive final blow.

Ali experienced the highs and lows of the heavyweight title, winning, losing, and then reclaiming it once more.

Fast forward to 2022, and Ali's iconic green and gold championship belt found its way to auction, commanding a staggering $6.180 million.

6. Honus Wagner 1909-1910 T206 Trading Card - $7.25M 

While Mickey Mantle #311 cards hold the title for the most expensive baseball trading cards, it's the Honus Wagner T206 cards from the 1909-1911 era that claims the crown for rarity.

Honus Wagner, an exceptional shortstop and Baseball Hall of Famer from the early days of America's beloved pastime, may not be a household name, but his trading cards are highly sought after.

According to King of Collectibles' Goldin Auctions, a single copy recently fetched an astounding $7.25 million in a private auction. 

7. Pierre du Coubertin's Olympic Games Manifesto - $8.8M

Just four years before the 1896 modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin wrote a compelling address urging the revival of the Games, addressed to the French Athletics Association.

This manifesto remained unseen until a Sotheby's auction in 2019, where it exceeded expectations, selling for over eight times its $1 million estimate in just 12 minutes.

8. Diego Maradona 1986 World Cup Jersey -  $9.28M 

In a World Cup quarter-final against England, Argentinian soccer sensation Diego Maradona amazed spectators by leaping to intercept a pass in the second half, securing the first goal of the closely contested game.

Post-game, Maradona swapped jerseys with England's midfielder, Steve Hodge. Hodge held onto Maradona's shirt for 36 years before opting to auction it at Sotheby's, where it fetched an impressive sum of $9.28 million.

9. Michael Jordan's 1998 NBA Game 1 Jersey -  $10.09M 

Michael Jordan stands as one of the most prominent figures in the sports landscape of the 80s-90s.

As a basketball legend, he played a pivotal role in securing the Chicago Bulls' success during the 1998 NBA finals, famously known as 'The Last Dance' season due to the impending franchise breakup. 

Unsurprisingly, the jersey worn by Jordan during that pivotal Game 1 achieved a remarkable milestone, selling for an astounding $10.091 million at a Sotheby's auction, solidifying its status as the most expensive sports jersey to date.

10. Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps #311 Trading Card - $12.6M

While Mickey Mantle might not be the initial thought in discussions about legendary baseball players, he undoubtedly takes center stage when it comes to baseball cards.

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 is considered the holy grail of baseball cards, with one recently selling for an astonishing $12.6 million via Heritage Auctions.

Although the exact count of surviving #311s remains unknown, given its status as the most expensive sports memorabilia sold to date, any future appearances of these cards are likely to command significant value.


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