May 19, 2024

The holy grail of hockey cards

aAre you looking for new sources of income? Here's a tip from Canada: just clean the basement. A family from Regina, Saskatchewan did just that recently and discovered an old cardboard box. Inside were 16 unopened boxes, each containing 48 packs of ice hockey trading cards. And not just any of them, but from the 1979/80 “O-Pee-Chee” series. Those who know know: This was Wayne Gretzky's first season in the NHL, and perhaps the best player in history. His “rookie” card, that is, the one from his debut season, is especially valuable.

There are a few of them, but the majority are in poor condition. The few well-preserved cards are therefore sought after, and in 2021 one of them was sold at auction for US$3.75 million (about €3.5 million). And the nice thing for Regina's family: Experts estimate there may be 25 or more Gretzky cards among the more than 10,000 trading cards in unopened packs.

“A unique discovery,” says Jason Simmonds, Ph.D Heritage Auction House Auctions Responsible for sports memorabilia in New York. For him, Gretzky's card from 1979 is “the holy grail of ice hockey cards.” In January, he traveled to Regina with two colleagues to examine the box – it may have been fake. But all is well, the boxes are in good condition even after 45 years. So I have now put his house online.

On Friday, the highest bid was already more than $1.5 million. But the auction will continue for a few more weeks, and Symonds expects between two and a half million and three million. He made another prediction: The buyer would not open the boxes. No one can be completely sure what's inside. The value is based solely on the assumption that the Holy Grail is present in it more than 25 times.

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