Graded Sports Illustrated Featuring Kylian Mbappé Makes Auction Debut

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In the world of sports memorabilia, graded magazines have emerged as a vibrant niche, captivating collectors who value the preservation and grading of historical publications. Over the past 15 years, Certified Collectibles Group has graded more than 28,000 Sports Illustrated issues, evidencing the substantial interest in these collectibles.

The previous record for the highest sale of a graded magazine was set by a Sports Illustrated issue from December 10, 1984, which featured Michael Jordan on the cover for the first time as a member of the Chicago Bulls. This particular issue, graded at 9.8, sold for $126,000 and is one of over 2,000 SI issues to receive the same grade.

Recently, the grading landscape saw a potential game-changer when a December 2022 issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring soccer phenom Kylian Mbappé on the cover, was graded a 9.9 by CGC. This issue, which commemorates Mbappé's participation in the 2022 World Cup, is currently up for auction through Goldin, marking the first time an SI issue has received a 9.9 grade. This particular issue is unique not only for its grade but also for being one of two versions produced—the other featuring the US soccer team.

Goldin's Director of Vintage Memorabilia and Photography notes the growing crossover interest between collectors of graded magazines and Type I photo collectors, spurred by the high-quality photographic covers shot by well-known photographers.

The current auction for the Mbappé cover issue has already attracted attention, with bids reaching $1,708 as the auction continues until June 8. Other notable items in the auction include a 1965 Topps Mickey Mantle card graded 8.5 and a signed Muhammad Ali cover from 1967.

The majority of graded magazine transactions occur on eBay, where a 1975 SI issue featuring Pele sold for $25,000 in March 2023, and a Mike Tyson cover from 1986 fetched over $11,000 last year. Interestingly, Michael Jordan covers consistently fetch high prices, with four of the top six highest-selling graded SIs on eBay since last year featuring the basketball legend.

This burgeoning interest in graded magazines highlights the evolving landscape of sports memorabilia collecting, where historical significance, photographic artistry, and condition converge to create highly sought-after collector's items.