Superman's Action Comics No. 1 sells for record $3.2 million on eBay

Swooping in almost at the last second to win the "holy grail" issue, the top bidder will now own the most expensive comic book in the world.

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eBay/Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Superman has soared to new heights.

A "pristine" copy of Action Comics No. 1, the comic book that introduced the Man of Steel to the world in 1938, sold for $3,207,852 on an eBay auction Sunday night following a last-minute round of intense bidding. By far the highest price ever paid for a single comic book, the number flew up, up, and away past the $2,161,000 paid for a less pristine copy that was auctioned in 2011.

The auction started on August 14 with a bid of $1 million and then gradually flew ever higher over the next 10 days, drawing in 13 different bidders with a total of 48 bids. The action truly heated up over the final few minutes as the bidding quickly jumped from $2.5 million to $2.6 million to $2.7 million before shooting up to $3,207,752. But at virtually the last few seconds, the winning bidder automatically soared in with an offer of $3,207,852 to take home the prize collectible.

"This was a record auction for eBay as it was the most expensive comic book ever sold on our marketplace," Gene Cook, general manager of emerging verticals for eBay Marketplaces, said in a statement. "The sale of Action Comics No. 1 is a prime example of how eBay plays a role in popular culture by connecting shoppers to must-have merchandise, including rare and valuable collectibles. This was an extraordinary opportunity to bring a comic -- one that has captured the attention of passionate collectors and casual fans alike."

The Action Comics No. 1 that sold on eBay on Sunday is considered the "holy grail" of comic books not just for its status in history but for its condition. The issue was awarded a grade of 9.0 from the Certified Guaranty Company, the highest grade ever assigned to a copy of Action Comics #1 issue by CGC and a sign that the 76-year-old comic is still in top condition.

"The quality and preservation of this Action No. 1 is astounding," Paul Litch, CGC Primary Grader, said in a statement last month. "The book looks and feels like it just came off the newsstand. It is supple, the colors are deep and rich and the quality of the white pages is amazing for a comic that is 76 years old."

Only around 50 unrestored original copies of Action Comics No. 1 reportedly still exist. The seller, collectibles dealer Darren Adams, described the worth and value of the comic book on the eBay page:

This is THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is .... the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.

"I'm proud to have owned the most valuable comic book in the world," Adams said in a statement following the auction. "Working with eBay on this auction allowed me to share this rare treasure with their global community and ensure the next owner is just as passionate about its place in history."

Part of the proceeds of the auction will go toward the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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