The Crazy Hype About Sports Memorabilia

The trade in sports objects is booming. Experts from auction houses explain how to best make money with them and which sports memorabilia you should invest in now.

How much can a piece of fabric that someone once wore be worth? A lot of money, if that piece of fabric was worn by someone like Diego Maradona or Michael Jordan. The jersey worn by the Argentine football legend Maradona during his most spectacular appearance – the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England – was auctioned for 8.8 million euros last year.

The German newspaper Tagesspiegel did wrote about the market situation and the hype of sports memorabilia in recent years. And the one that exceptional basketball player Jordan wore in the first game of the 1998 Finals series also fetched nearly nine million euros at the Sotheby’s auction house. These are records, but one thing is certain: they won’t hold for long. The price of sports memorabilia continues to soar. Michael Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey was auctioned for almost nine million euros. Michael Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey was auctioned for almost nine million euros.

Even jerseys from the currently performing poorly German national football team increased by 40 percent on eBay last year, according to the online marketplace’s information to Tagesspiegel. This refers not to the rare “match-worn” jerseys (worn by the national players) but to the jerseys produced for the general public. This alone should be proof enough that such sports memorabilia can be more than just nice keepsakes. Above all, they are a good investment.

More than ever, sports play an important role in mainstream culture. So it’s only logical that the number of collectors is increasing in Europe and that knowledge and awareness of this hobby are spreading,” says Ugo Pelloni. An 8.8 million euros were achieved for a jersey worn by Diego Maradona. Pelloni is a sports expert at the online auction platform Catawiki. He points out three factors for the year 2022 that have contributed significantly to the appreciation of sports memorabilia: “The World Cup, the increasing production of sports documentaries by Netflix, and the death of football icon Pelé, who was also part of pop culture.” Therefore, trading in sports memorabilia is a morbid business, similar to the art or music industry. With the passing of heroes, the value of their legacy often increases significantly.

The best example: Diego Maradona.

For instance, Catawiki auctioned a less historically significant Maradona jersey for a modest 510 euros in 2017. Three years later, after Maradona had passed away, the same jersey went under the hammer again. The price this time: 9,999 euros. Apart from that, there are various reasons why certain objects are in high demand. In any case, auction houses are pleased with the hype. The demand for items such as sports trading cards, jerseys, Panini albums, or original pieces from games and competitions, for example, has doubled on Catawiki since 2019. The company states that the number of sellers of sports memorabilia from Germany on Catawiki increased sixfold last year, and the number of buyers in this country more than doubled. The online marketplace eBay recorded a strong increase in trading for US sports such as American football and baseball. But above all, sports trading cards, so-called OVP Trading Card Packs, are booming on the online auction markets. “In terms of OVP Trading Card Pack revenues, we see double-digit growth in the first half of 2023. Football products, as well as Panini Football and Basketball cards, are particularly popular here,” says eBay. Recently, a card of Pelé from 1958 was sold on eBay for nearly 4,400 euros.

Women’s World Cup 2023 This is the squad of the German national team. According to Catawiki, six factors are crucial for the appreciation of value: Firstly, the rarity of sports memorabilia. Significant gains can be achieved even with Panini albums, as Ugo Pelloni explains using an example. “In 2011, Panini released the first Women’s World Cup album. More than ten years later, due to a relatively low print run – based on the assumption that interest in women’s football would be lower and they were only released in Germany – these stickers have dramatically increased in value and represent a real investment opportunity.” In concrete terms, the Women’s World Cup Panini albums were auctioned for less than 300 euros per copy in 2019, but two years later, they fetched just over 2000 euros at their peak on Catawiki.

The Panini collectible album for the 2011 Women’s World Cup is rare – and therefore particularly valuable.

Secondly, the uniqueness of sports memorabilia. This can refer to unique colors or forms of sports objects. A good example is the sleeveless jerseys of Cameroon by Puma from 2002, which caused controversy. The sleeveless jersey of the Cameroonian national football team made headlines. The sleeveless jersey of the Cameroonian national football team made headlines. © imago/HJS Thirdly, the timelessness of sports memorabilia. This includes designs that become classics. Argentine national jerseys, for example, or footballs like the Tango by Adidas and much more. Fourthly, the nostalgia factor of sports memorabilia. Reminders from a different time are popular, especially among older generations (but not exclusively). The 1980s are popular, especially shirts and jerseys from model series worn by the national football team or Boris Becker.

Tennis players who have kept a shirt from Nike’s Agassi model series over the years are also lucky. High prices can be achieved for them on the online auction markets. Fifthly, the appreciation of value of sports memorabilia due to the death of a celebrity. Sad events in the world of sports cause prices for related sports articles to explode. The best examples are, as mentioned above, footballers Diego Maradona and Pelé. But also the basketball player Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020. In February of this year, a jersey of his sold for the equivalent of nearly 5.2 million dollars. The jersey of the late Kobe Bryant fetched 5.2 million dollars. The jersey of the late Kobe Bryant fetched 5.2 million dollars.

Sixthly, the pop-cultural significance of sports memorabilia. This increases when series or movies suddenly appear. The jersey of Michael Jordan, which was auctioned for almost nine million euros last year, was likely offered at that time because its value had skyrocketed due to the successful Netflix series “The Last Dance.”

I have been collecting memorabilia for half of my life. I started very small with a few trading cards and since then I am more and more interested in the subject. I read a lot in Facebook groups, collect especially Jordan memorabilia. I'm happy if you like my content.

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