A Kobe Bryant card was sold privately last week for $2 million, PWCC Marketplace announced Tuesday, the highest a Bryant card has ever brought.
The sale is notable in that the card — a 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Emerald — is not a rookie card, nor does it boast an autograph or game-used memorabilia swatch.
The Bryant card becomes the latest in basketball to break the $2 million threshold, joining multiple LeBron James RPAs (rookie patch autograph), a Luka Doncic Logoman auto and a Michael Jordan All Star Game-used jersey auto card. James holds the record, with his 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection RPA parallel card selling for $5.2 million in April 2021.
Though the Bryant card is 004/100, only cards 1-10 are of the emerald-hued variety in this set; cards 11-100 of the Precious Metal Gems insert are red. Beckett Media once called Precious Metal Gems parallels “some of the most coveted postwar sports cards, period.”
The Bryant card received an 8.5 grade from Beckett Grading Services, tied for the best-graded known example of this card. PSA’s highest-graded version of the emerald parallel is a 7.
“This is arguably Kobe’s best card in existence,” Jesse Craig, director of business development at PWCC, said in a statement. “It’s [difficult] to find them in any condition — and because of their delicate nature, to find one in such good condition is incredibly rare.”
This era of Metal Universe cards was hailed for its futuristic and cartoonish extraterrestrial backgrounds, laid behind players’ true likenesses. It was because of the artwork and the cards’ foil surface that the edges often dinged and the cards flaked easily.
In an interesting twist, the 1997-98 Metal Universe Kobe Bryant cards — bases and parallels, including this record sale — were numbered 81 of a 123-card set. Bryant famously scored 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006, the second-most points in a game in NBA history.