A 1914 Babe Ruth baseball card, worth about $6 million and the first to feature the Major League Baseball icon as a player, was recently sold at a record-breaking price for a sports collectible. Now, the public will have a chance to own part of it through Collectable.
Launched last September, Collectable emulates a stock market for sports memorabilia, allowing users to buy and sell shares of sports-related items.
The company said a private buyer recently purchased the card. While it didn’t disclose the price due to a nondisclosure agreement with the card’s seller, it said the acquirer paid more than the previous record $5.2 million paid for a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card in January. A LeBron James rookie card sold in April for $5.2 million.
Collectable CEO Ezra Levine told CNBC it’s a “reasonable assumption” the buyer paid around value price — nearly $6 million — for the card, which will held at the Babe Ruth Museum in Baltimore.
Levine said the card, which shows a 19-year-old Ruth as a minor league pitcher for his hometown Baltimore Orioles, is the “single-most important and miraculous baseball card in the world.”
Before The Bambino made his MLB debut for the Boston Red Sox in July 1914, he pitched in the International League, compiling a 22-9 record in 35 games. Only 10 copies of the 1914 card exist, and the last one sold in 2013 for a then-record $450,300.
“It never comes up, and when it does, people grab it and pay whatever price it takes,” Levine told CNBC. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime find.”
Passion and profits
The buyer requested to remain private, but he is allowing partial ownership stakes on the platform starting at $3 per share through Collectable.
“He loved the ability to share this asset with the public,” Levine said. “He’s taking this physical asset and almost transforming it into a stock which can be liquidly traded on a platform.”
Levine said the firm has over 35,000 investors on its platform and has completed approximately $20 million worth of transactions via 101 IPOs. The company makes money from transaction fees and secondary market trading.
The collectibles space is one of the more active sectors in sports this year. Nonfungible tokens have been on the rise in part due to Dapper Labs. And MLB joined the NFT space on Tuesday. Outside of the Mantle and James cards, Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic’s rookie card sold for $4.6 million in March, and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card sold for $3.75 million last month.
In May, Collectable raised $5.5 million to expand operations, luring investors including Bain Capital. Collectable declined to reveal its enterprise valuation, but Levine said the company doesn’t exceed $100 million.
Levine said his company wants to leverage the collectibles space, making rare items accessible for everyday consumers “similar to how Robinhood opened up the financial markets, educated people and made it accessible.” He added that Collectable is targeting consumers’ “passion and profits” in the space.
“We say that all the time,” Levine said. “It’s passion because people love sports, and if you collect, you’re generally very passionate about what you collect. I say profits because historically, at the upper echelon part of the industry, there has been a ton of money made. It’s just never been affordable or accessible to people.”