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Thu Apr 25 2013 14:37:33

A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Quick: who is the most popular superhero in the world of collectible comics? If you said Spiderman, you'd be correct. But it was the first appearance of Batman (aka the Bat-Man) in a comic that set a record price for a comic, and it was with Heritage Auctions.

"We became the first company to auction a comic for $1 million, at a time when the auction record was just over $300,000," said Barry Sandoval, Director of Operations, Comics and Comic Art, Heritage Auctions. On this Antiques Friday, The AuctionBytes Blog got a chance to pick Barry's brain about the world of comics and comic art in general, and what trends they're seeing on their site.

AuctionBytes: How big a part of your overall business at Heritage are comics and comic art?

Sandoval: We had $37 million in sales for Comics and Comic Art in 2012, and Heritage’s overall auction sales are more than $800 million a year. But remember we’re active in a lot of categories including the likes of rare coins, jewelry, and luxury real estate.

AuctionBytes: What are some of the highest-price comic art auctions or sales you've seen lately?

Sandoval: Our July 2012 auction was over $10 million, the biggest comic auction in history by a pretty wide margin. For comparison’s sake, before we entered the category in 2001 the record for a comic auction was just over $2 million.

AuctionBytes: Similarly, what are some of the highest-priced comic book sales?

Sandoval: That auction featured a new record for a piece of American art at more than $650,000

Also a couple of years ago we became the first company to auction a comic for $1 million, at a time when the auction record was just over $300,000:
   
[A little background on that comic, from Wikipedia: Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) featured the first appearance of Batman (as "The Bat-Man").[5] That superhero would eventually become the star of the title, the cover logo of which is often written as "Detective Comics featuring Batman". Because of its significance, issue #27 is widely considered one of the most valuable comic books in existence, with one copy selling for $1,075,000 in a February 2010 auction].

AuctionBytes: Do certain types/brands of comic books (e.g. Marvel vs DC) sell better than others, and why?

Sandoval: Marvel and DC each have their adherents. In general the superhero genre is what commands the highest prices, and the likes of romance comics, war comics, etc. are worth less. There are exceptions though.

AuctionBytes: Are there certain characters in comics that are more popular than others? Spiderman eg? Who do you think is the most popular?

Sandoval: Spider-Man would have to be #1. His  first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 is one of the few 1960s comics that’s still quite valuable even if it’s in rough condition. The traditional favorites like Batman and Superman are up there too, and Wolverine is on the verge of joining that top group if he hasn’t already.

AuctionBytes:  Are you seeing any trends in the comics or comic art auction/collectible world that sellers and collectors would want to know about?

Sandoval: Original comic art has really exploded, and people who bought comic art quite cheaply in the 1970s or 1980s are reselling pieces for thousands of dollars (or more) in many cases. As far as comics, those who are new to the hobby, or trying to sell a collection, are often surprised how much of a difference condition makes. Most people wouldn’t think the best known copy of a comic would be worth 100 times what the worst copy is worth, but in fact in can be that multiple or even more.
   
AuctionBytes: What category or categories are your biggest, if not comic art?

Sandoval: Coins are still a much higher-dollar business than Comics. We have sold one million-dollar comic but many million-dollar coins.
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How about you? Did you collect comics as a child, and which ones? Do you collect, or buy or sell them now, or their art? Post a comment here!




Comments (5) | Permalink

Readers Comments

A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art   A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art

This user has validated their user name. by: Forestt

Thu Apr 25 21:02:57 2013

Actor Tom Hanks has a huge collection of some of the rarest books in pristine condition. Seem to remember a copy of Action Comics #1 fetching $4.3 million a few years back.

A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art   A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles

Thu Apr 25 23:47:35 2013

Agree. I believe to read years ago an Action Comics #1 go for more than $1million, but not so high like $4million.

Get in mind in mind what Sandoval said about condition. This Detective Comics is a graded/certify comic in 8.0 Very Fine condition. Been graded multiple its value.  

A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art   A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art

This user has validated their user name. by: Forestt

Fri Apr 26 11:57:28 2013

Supposedly the Action Comics #1 that fetched that amount was a 9.0 graded copy that had been owned by Actor Nicholas Cage, was stolen and missing for over 11 years before it was found in a storage auction in California.

Kind of shows the investment value of comics if people like Tom Hanks and Nicholas Cage are putting their money into rare comics.

I also remember, when I was growing up, in the late 80's, these particular books fetching $30-$50K. Big thing was when Action #1 broke the $100K mark in the early 90's. Look where it is now??

In my opinion, the early Marvel books are undervalued for now. I've got high grade X-Men #1, Fantastic Four #1, Daredevil #1, Spider-Man #1 all set aside for my golden years. At market price today, they're still a great investment.

A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art   A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Fri Apr 26 19:33:36 2013

Yeah!

I could have retired by now, - my college chums & I had a 2 foot stack of Marvel comics which we bought in 1967-68.

Silver Surfer
Dr Strange
Fantastic Four
yadda, yadda, yadda.

Well at least I got to read them.

A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art   A Million Dollar Comic: Heritage Auctions on Comic Art

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 4 03:26:01 2013

In 1974 I bought a copy of Action #1 for $1,800.  At the time, this was the 2nd copy to fetch that price. Alas, it's long gone.  



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