By Charles Passy
The sports-card market has long been dominated by legendary names such as Mickey Mantle and LeBron James . Could social-media titan Mark Zuckerberg be joining that list?
An autographed card bearing a photo of Zuckerberg in his Little League days sold for $105,000 at an auction that concluded early Wednesday evening. With a 15% buyer’s premium, the total figure came to $120,750.
While the price hardly compares to the record-breaking $12.6 million that a 1952 Mantle card fetched earlier this year, it may prove to be an early benchmark for an item related to the Facebook and Meta /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite META +1.23% founder.
At least that’s what Stephen Fishler, chief executive officer of ComicConnect.com, the company behind the sale, told MarketWatch a few hours before the auction concluded. Fishler pointed to the rarity of the item, which he said was the only known surviving example of the card from Zuckerberg’s youth.
“There’s nothing you can logically compare it to. I could not draw a line between this card and anything,” said Fishler. He added that while 1952 Mantle cards are highly prized, especially ones that are in top condition, hundreds are known to exist, along with Mantle cards from other years.
Of course, the reason there aren’t Zuckerberg cards from other years is that Zuckerberg wasn’t a sports figure. The card was created essentially as a novelty item — and it was given by a young Zuckerberg to Allie Tarantino, a counselor at a day camp in White Plains, N.Y., that the future tech entrepreneur attended.
Tarantino asked Zuckerberg to autograph the card as a way to make the young camper feel like a star, he told MarketWatch. And he held on to the card the way he held on to various other items — as a summer-camp keepsake. It wasn’t until years later, as Zuckerberg rose to fame, that Tarantino, who now works as a fifth-grade teacher and also serves as a program director at that same New York camp, realized he might have something of value.
“It’s such a weird, one-of-a-kind piece,” he told MarketWatch shortly before the auction’s conclusion.
Tarantino knew Fishler, and the two had talked about selling the card at some point. With the broader collectibles market having experienced a boom during the pandemic, Tarantino decided now was finally the time.
Fishler said that Zuckerberg has given the sale of the card his blessing. Indeed, Zuckerberg talked up the card — and an NFT made from it — in an Instagram post , referring to it as his “old little league baseball card.” The NFT from the card sold for 11 Ethereum (the equivalent of about $14,800) in a parallel digital auction that concluded Wednesday.
Tarantino said he’s planning to use money from the sale to pay down his mortgage and help fund his children’s college educations. But he isn’t ruling out making a special purchase — but he collects comic books, not sports cards, so he’s more likely to buy a rare comic with his Zuckerberg cash.
“I thought I would treat myself,” he said.