By Tom VanHaaren | ESPN Staff Writer
A 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card has sold for $3.75 million in a private sale brokered through Heritage Auctions.
The card was graded a Gem Mint 10 and blew past the previous record for a hockey card, which was set this past December when the same version of the Gretzky card sold for $1.29 million, also with Heritage Auctions. The card that sold in December had previously sold for $465,000 in 2016 and $94,000 in 2011.
"There are just a handful of cards out there to reach such stratospheric heights, and they bear such names as Mickey Mantle, LeBron James, Mike Trout, Honus Wagner and Michael Jordan," said Dan Imler, Heritage Sports' vice president of private sales and consignments. "It's only fitting that the greatest hockey player of all time, and one of the most beloved and revered athletes of the 20th century, join their estimable ranks."
The 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card that recently sold for $3.75 million is the same version of the card that sold for $1.29 million this past December. Courtesy Heritage Auctions
Those two cards are the only O-Pee-Chee versions of this rookie card graded as Gem Mint 10s in PSA's population report, with 89 graded as a 9. There are also two Topps versions of this card graded as a 9, and the most recent Gretzky Topps rookie card sold for $720,000 in December.
O-Pee-Chee was a Canadian company that worked with Topps to distribute similar cards in Canada. Although the cards are very similar, there are some minor differences between the two -- and the O-Pee-Chee cards have garnered more money in recent sales.
The 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky rookie card was graded a Gem Mint 10. Courtesy Heritage Auctions
The buyer and seller wish to remain anonymous, but the buyer discussed the new purchase and said getting the card was a longtime family dream.
"Throughout many years of collecting, this card has always been our 'white whale,'" the buyer said. "Our family is thrilled to become the new guardians of this world-class hobby treasure."