- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter
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The most coveted baseball card of all-time proved its worth once again early Saturday morning, as the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card sold for $2.1 million in an online auction.
The price paid for the rare card by an unknown buyer becomes the highest price paid for a card in a public sale, eclipsing the $1.6 million price paid for the same card in 2008.
"My overall goal on the T206 Wagner from the start was to set a record for a trading card auction," said Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions, which auctioned the card. "My auction house set a new record by close to $500,000."
Goldin said he was not at liberty to disclose the buyer, only revealing that he was not someone within the hobby.
Legend has it that fewer than 200 cards of the Hall of Fame shortstop were produced because Wagner was not happy with the card's producer the American Tobacco Company and the smoking message it sent to children. Wagner, however, smoked and endorsed cigars, leading some to believe he was merely upset with not being paid for his image.
The card is also controversial because the one that sold for the highest price, the Wagner in the best condition, is said to have been trimmed to improve its condition. That card, once owned by hockey star Wayne Gretzky, was sold for $2.8 million in a private sale to Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick in 2007.
The Wagner sold in the Goldin Auctions sale was referred to as the "Jumbo" Wagner since, for some reason, it is actually slightly bigger than most of the T206 Wagner cards.
Other highlights in the auction included a Wagner signed baseball for $35,292, which was also a record price paid for a Wagner ball. A duplicate of Alex Rodriguez' 2009 New York Yankees World Series ring sold for $50,398, a game-used Earl Monroe uniform from the early '70s sold for $21,371 and a bat used by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in the 2001 World Series sold for $37,486, which Goldin says is likely a record paid for a Jeter bat.
A ticket to Mickey Mantle's first major league game went for $6,890, while a program to that game sold for $6,750.
1dJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick