The First 222 Comics From The Billy Wright Collection Sell for $3,433,342

You've probably seen the media blitz (and you have to admit that Heritage knows how to do PR for these events) over the past few days about the Billy Wright collection (designated a pedigree by CGC), an original owner comic book stash which was discovered by the late owner's family in a basement closet. The collection contains a number of the most historically important comics ever published — such as Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, Batman #1, and Marvel Comics #1 — in grades ranging from respectable to eye-popping.

Vintage collectors have been eagerly anticipating this particular auction for weeks (both for this collection and a wealth of other impressive material — such as the legendary high grade Fantastic Four set from the Curator Collection, a nice group of comics from the Edgar Church collection, and some impossible-to-get ashcans from Gary Colobuono's collection) and the overall results did not disappoint.  Six comics from the collection passed the $100,000 mark, and the total for the day's sales came to $3,433,342 by my count.  There are a little over 100 more comics left to sell from the collection, though all of the headliners were sold today.

I see Heritage has already gotten a pr out on today's results, so I'll give you my own perspective on a few of the top sales:

  • Detective Comics #27 CGC FN+ 6.5 Off-white to white pages $522,812.50:  Good result, not a record. A 6.0 sold in 2010 for $575,000. Today's result was likely hurt by the fact that Comic Connect has another Detective Comics #27 6.5 in an auction in a few weeks.
  • Action Comics #1 CGC GD/VG 3.0 Off-white to white pages $298,750.00:  Good result, also not a record. Another 3.0 sold in 2010 for $300,000.
  • Batman #1CGC VF+ 8.5 White pages…. $274,850.00:  Very solid result.  A CGC 9.0 copy sold for $315,000 in 2010, so by comparison this is very respectable.  Batman #1's in this grade range haven't traded hands too often in recent years.
  • All American Comics #16 CGC VF 8.0 Off-white to white pages…. $203,150.00:   Record price for this issue, and one of the most noteworthy sales of the auction. Despite being a record sale for the book in any grade, this might also be one of the best buys of the auction.  This book is notoriously difficult in high grade, so much so that there are no high grade public sales recent enough to provide a worthwhile comparison point.  In fact, this book — the first appearance of Green Lantern — is so tough in high grade, that the census-topping Edgar Church CGC 9.4 copy almost sold for $1 million back in 2009, which would have made it the first comic to pass the million dollar barrier. Rumor has it that the sale fell apart in the 11th hour, but the situation was the talk of the summer in vintage comic circles that year.
  • Marvel Comics #1 CGC VF- 7.5 Off-white to white pages…. $113,525.00:  High grade Marvel Comics #1 sales have an unusual recent history in the marketplace.  The CGC 9.0 Pay Copy (so-called because comics packager Lloyd Jacquet made notations on this copy as to his payments to the creators involved) sold for $350,000 way back in 2001, a world record price for any comic, that stood for nearly a decade. Subsequently, the top 4 census copies were available on the marketplace repeatedly for several years, to the point where the book was seen as having lost some of its luster as compared to Action Comics #1, Detective Comics #27, and other keys (Though it has resold a couple times since, the Pay Copy itself was sold in 2006 for $201,000, a rather stunning loss for the buyer from 2001).  In more recent times, the CGC 8.5 Denver copy sold for $155,000 in 2009, so all things considered, the Billy Wright copy sale is probably within expectations or a little on the strong side at this point.
  • Captain America Comics #2 CGC NM 9.4 Off-white pages…. $113,525.00: Best known copy, a gorgeous book and the buyer probably got a bargain. A CGC 9.2 copy went for just a little less at $103,000 in 2009.
  • Detective Comics #29 CGC FN/VF 7.0 Off-white to white pages…. $83,650.00:  Very strong price, and for good reason. This one doesn't come along in grades above unrestored CGC 5.0 too often, and pre-Robin Detectives are the beach front property of vintage comics in virtually any grade, contrary to what they think on Comic Book Men.

Here are all of today's sales in a handy table, ranked by price. I'll do some updated analysis in the morning.



About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.

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