Let’s take a look at the highest sports magazine sales from the past two months and analyze why they went for these prices.10. CGC 7.0 Bill Russell 1st cover – $5,777 – SCP Auctions
Not very often that you would see a 7.0 Sports Illustrated sell for over $5,000, but this particular copy happens to be the highest graded copy in the world of legend Bill Russell’s first cover. This issue is super tough to find in newsstand, as there have only been a total of 3 copies graded.
To be truthful, with the scarcity of this issue, the stature of Bill Russell’s stardom, and the fact that this is the highest-graded copy out there…I’m surprised this one didn’t go even higher.
9. CGC 9.8 First ever SI Issue/Eddie Mathews 1st cover – $6,878 – eBay
This is the very first issue released by Sports Illustrated, which came out on August 16th, 1954 and featured Braves’ Hall of Famer, Eddie Mathews, on the cover. At first glance, you might think a mint 9.8 copy of such an old and historic issue would be insane and go for higher dollars. The truth is that this is actually the most commonly graded issue of all Sports Illustrated issues. There are two reasons for that.
Number one: this issue never had a mailing label. Regardless of if you were one of the very first Sports Illustrated subscribers back when this issue came out in 1954 (there were 380,000 charter subscribers), every single copy of this first issue was distributed without a mailing label on the cover.
Number two: Sports Illustrated actually saved thousands of these copies in a warehouse and sold them as collectible items in the 80s and 90s. Therefore, you’ve got quite a few people who received pristine and unread copies of this issue 30-40 years after its release.
Current pop reports show that this issue has been graded 535 total times and there are seventy-five 9.8s. This issue in 9.8 sells fairly regularly and sales have ranged anywhere from the $4,500-$11,00 range. At this current stage in the market and due to the high pop counts, $6,000 seems about right.
8. CGC 9.8 Kobe Bryant 1st cover (1998) – $7,800 – Heritage Auctions
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, as well as one of the most beloved by NBA fans. It just so happens that his first Sports Illustrated cover also includes another all-time great, Magic Johnson. This issue has been graded 58 times and there are seventeen 9.8s.
7. CGC 9.8 LeBron James 1st cover (2002) – $9,000 – Heritage Auctions
Here’s another all-time NBA great, LeBron James, with his first Sports Illustrated cover from 2002. You may recall that the hype for LeBron as an upcoming prospect coming out of high school was enormous, and that is reflected in the census report.
This is the second most frequently graded SI issue (only behind the 1954 first issue) with a total of 189 graded copies. This 9.8 is a pop one of 34.
6. CGC 9.8 Mike Trout 1st cover (2012) – $9,600 – Heritage Auctions
This Mike Trout first cover is the most modern issue on the list, but its pop counts are much lower than some others. A total of 45 copies have been graded in newsstand, but this 9.8 is currently one of only four in existence. As you can see from the last four copies on our list, 9.8s reign supreme.
5. CGC 9.0 Mike Tyson 1st cover (1986) – $11,200 – eBay
Before he became known as “Iron Mike”, this Mike Tyson first Sports Illustrated cover from 1986 labeled him as “Kid Dynamite” and it’s a highly coveted issue. The census reports indicate that it’s very tough to track down in newsstand, especially compared to other big covers from the 80s.
Only 16 copies have been graded in total and this 9.0 is a pop one of two, with none graded higher.
4. Ungraded Dream Team featuring Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan, and Karl Malone (1991) Autographed by all five and JSA authenticated- $11,500 – eBay
This is the only ungraded magazine on the list, but I don’t think I have to explain why this one is collectible. Good luck finding another Sports Illustrated copy with five bigger autographs. This features five of the highest profile basketball players from the legendary 1992 US Men’s Olympic “Dream Team”, including the GOAT, Michael Jordan.
All five signatures have been authenticated by reputable authenticator, JSA.
3. CGC 9.2 Muhammad Ali 1st cover (1963) – $13,200 – Heritage Auctions
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Before he changed his name to Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all-time was known as Cassius Clay. His first Sports Illustrated cover here from 1963 actually depicts him one year before he famously knocked out Sonny Liston to capture his first heavyweight title.
Only 20 newsstand copies of this cover have been graded by CGC and there are actually 4 copies graded higher than this 9.2. That goes to show you, going for $13,200, just how collectible “the greatest” really is.
2. CGC 9.0 Roberto Clemente 1st cover (1967) – $19,078 – SCP Auctions
Roberto Clemente is an absolute baseball legend, as well as a Latin American hero. This issue from 1967 is his first and only Sports Illustrated cover before his untimely death from a plane crash in 1972. This cover has only been graded a total of 12 times in newsstand and graded at a CGC 9.0, it’s a pop one of two with none higher.
The retro colors on the cover make the aesthetic of this one especially unique. This is the third highest public sports magazine sale of all-time.
1. CGC 9.0 Mickey Mantle 1st cover (1956) – $27,600 – Heritage Auctions
Mickey Mantle holds the record for the highest-selling sports card of all time, and with this CGC 9.0 first Sports Illustrated cover going for $27,600, he also owns the second-highest sports magazine sale of all time. This is widely considered to be the most collectible Sports Illustrated issue in the history of the publication and so far has been graded in newsstand a total of 37 times.
There are 9 copies graded higher than this 9.0 Sure would be exciting to see what price one of those could command if they ever hit the market.
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*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.