A Kobe Bryant card sold privately over the weekend for $2 million, PWCC Marketplace announced Tuesday, the highest price a Black Mamba card has ever sold.
The sale is notable because the card, a 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Emerald, is not from his rookie year, nor does it feature an autograph or display of used in-game memorabilia.
Bryant’s card becomes the latest basketball card to break the $2 million threshold for a sale, joining multiple LeBron James RPA (rookie patch autograph) cards, a Luka Doncic Logoman car and a Bryant jersey card. Michael Jordan worn at the All Star. James holds the all-time record, with his 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection RPA side card selling for a record $5.2 million in April 2021.
Although Bryant’s card is rated 004/100, only cards 1-10 are of the emerald variety in this set; cards 11-100 of the Metal Universe Precious insert are red. Beckett Media once called the Precious Metal Gem parallels “some of the most coveted post-war sports cards”.
The Bryant card received a rating of 8.5 from Beckett Grading Services, tied for the highest rated known example of this card. The highest degree version of the PSA emerald parallel is a 7.
“This is arguably the best Kobe card out there,” Jesse Craig, director of business development for PWCC, said in a statement. “Is [difícil] Finding them in any condition, and due to their delicate nature, finding one in such good condition is incredibly rare.”
This era of Metal Universe cards was acclaimed for its futuristic and cartoonish alien backgrounds, placed behind the true likenesses of the players. Due to the artwork and the foil surface of the cards, the edges were often dented and the cards chipped easily.
In an interesting twist, the 1997-98 Metal Universe Kobe Bryant cards (bases and parallels, including this record sale) were numbered 81 out of a set of 123 cards. Bryant scored 81 points on January 22, 2006, the second most points in a game in NBA history.