Treasure of unopened hockey cards sells for nearly $4 million at auction

A treasure of unopened 1979-80 hockey cards shocked collectors last weekend when it sold for $3.72 million at auction.

Roughly 16 boxes, each containing 48 packs of O-Pee-Chee cards, were discovered when at least one person stumbled upon an unopened cardboard box, according to a report citing Heritage Auctions.

Wayne Gretzky is widely considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time, and the trove could contain upward of two dozen rookie cards of “The Great One,” the report noted.

In this undated photo provided by Heritage Auctions, a case of old hockey cards, uncovered in a Canadian home, has fetched more than $3.7 million. Heritage Auctions says a winning bidder bought the case of 16 sealed boxes of O-Pee-Chee’s 1979 hockey card collection, amounting to more than 10,000 cards. (Courtesy of Heritage Auctions/The Canadian Press via AP)

“We knew from the moment we heard this O-Pee-Chee case existed that it would get the attention of hockey card collectors worldwide,” said Chris Ivy, director of Heritage Auctions’s sports auctions.

The box containing the cards reads “HOCKEY” with “Action Cards with bubble gum” written below, and it was once owned by a “rabid collector,” Heritage Auctions said.

It was discovered hidden behind “stacks and stacks of other stuff,” according to Jason Simonds, Heritage Auctions’s sports card specialist and consignment director.

“Remarkably, our consignor wasn’t aware he owned this outrageous Holy Grail case until very recent accounting of a long-forgotten pile of boxes in his home in Saskatchewan,” the item description noted.

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The 10,752 “fresh off the factory floor” cards were authenticated prior to the sale, according to Heritage.

“By any metric of evaluation, it’s a thrilling miracle of survival and one of the greatest trading card lots that Heritage has ever had the privilege to offer,” Heritage Auctions said.

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