AMAZING FANTASY NO. 15 LEADS LATEST COMICS & COMIC ART AUCTION PAST $26.5 MILLION
It was a comic book auction for the record books. And not just because Heritage Auctions’ Sept. 8-12 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction realized more than $26.5 million to smash the previous record for the world’s most valuable comic book auction by more than $4 million. Records were set throughout the spectacular event, beginning at the auction’s outset when Jack Kirby’s Dr. Doom-struck cover art for 1969’s Fantastic Four No. 86 sold for $480,000 — the highest price ever paid at auction for an original work by comicdom’s most influential creator.
The following day came another headline, when Spider-Man’s debut in Amazing Fantasy No. 15 sold for $3.6 million to become the world’s most valuable comic book. Then, on day three, came one more Christmas miracle, when Charles Schulz’s Dec. 18, 1966, Peanuts strip sold for $360,000, the most ever paid at auction for an original Charlie Brown.
By the time the auction closed, more than 6,400 bidders worldwide had participated in a near-sell-out event that realized $26,555,721 — a new highwater mark for a comic book and comic art auction. That topples the previous record of $22.4 million set at Heritage Auctions in June.
“About a decade ago, the record sale price for a comic book was $317,000, and the biggest comics auction was $5 million. Look how far we’ve come,” says Heritage Auctions Vice President Barry Sandoval. “In [this] sale we had 500 different lots sell for at least $10,000 — and 68 of those hit $50,000 or more. My favorite part of all this is that 26 different consignors will be receiving checks for more than $100,000, and a couple of those will be for seven figures.”
This was such a remarkable auction that a half-million-dollar sale didn’t even garner a headline. During the auction’s opening session, a CGC Fine+ 6.5 copy of Batman No. 1 brought $576,000, the highest price ever realized for that historic book in that grade. This has been such a record-shattering year for the Dark Knight that even a CGC Good 2.0 copy of his 1940 solo debut now sells for $222,000, a once unfathomable number.
Moments after Amazing Fantasy No. 15 climbed to its record high, a CGC Near Mint 9.4 copy of The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 sold for $241,200. Only four years ago, the first issue of the Wall-Crawler’s solo title was selling for about half that in the very same grade. Spidey, now at the center of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, appears to have become the most treasured character in comicdom.
And, surely, next year’s long-anticipated big-screen bow of Black Adam, to be played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,” factored into this auction’s record price for 1945’s The Marvel Family No. 1, which blew past pre-auction estimates to sell for $186,000. But this was also a historic issue: It’s but one of two copies graded this high (CGC Near Mint 9.4), and it comes from The Promise Collection Pedigree, which contains some 5,000 Golden Age books not seen since they were bought off newsstands in the 1940s.
Most of The Promise Collection’s offerings in this event exceeded expectations — again — among them the very first issue of Superboy, which, like most books in the pedigree, is the best-known copy in existence. The CGC Near Mint 9.4 copy opened bidding at $22,000 but quickly soared to $72,000. But the Boy of Steel was quickly surpassed by the CGC Near Mint/Mint 9.8 copy of 1946’s Suspense Comics No. 11, which boasts artist L.B. Cole’s iconic devil-of-a-cover. The highest-graded stunner, which looks fresh off the newsstand, sold for $132,000.
Each session contained its share of thrills, wonders and delights — beginning almost with the sounding of the opening bell, when a Sandman-co-starring page from Amazing Spider-Man No. 18 by (who else?) his co-creator Steve Ditko sold for $156,000. Only a few minutes later, the original art for the DC Comics house ad marking the debut of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman sold for $96,000. And only a few moments after that, Frank Frazetta’s original cover for 1963’s The Lost Continent paperback brought $132,000.
In that same session, Alex Ross’ indelible portrait of The Dark Knight painted for the cover of 1999’s prestige-format graphic novel Batman: War on Crime sold for $102,000, shattering pre-auction estimates. So, too, did this delightful rarity: a 1987 daily Calvin and Hobbes by the beloved Bill Watterson, which realized $132,000 after some intense bidding.
Later in the auction, collectors were offered one of the most prized pieces from John Byrne and Terry Austin’s legendary X-Men run: an uncanny page from 1978’s X-Men No. 113, featuring the mutants trapped alongside Magneto. The artwork sold for $108,000. Another all-star piece — Michael Golden’s cover for 1981’s What If? No. 29, which asked “What If the Avengers Defeated Everybody?” — sold for $72,000. More expensive than a Disney+ subscription but more legendary, too.
But this auction was about far more than just impressive numbers for important comics and influential art. As Sandoval notes, there were plenty of startling results to be found throughout the five-day event, among them the very first printing of the very first copy of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #1. The 1970 standard-bearer for the industry, graded CGC Near Mint+ 9.6, demolished its pre-auction estimate to sell for $45,600. And an artist’s proof of Randy Bowen’s 1997 bronze statue of The Incredible Hulk, inspired by Kirby, likewise obliterated expectations to sell for $45,600.
But Hulk likes to smash. So, too, do Heritage Auctions’ comics and comic art events.