A copy of Action Comics #1 sold for more than $3 million in a private sale, setting a new world record for the sale of a single comic book, online auctioneer ComicConnect announced Tuesday.
ComicConnect sold the book, which was originally published in 1938 and contains the first appearance of Superman, for $3.25 million. First discovered in a stack of magazines in the 1980s, the book has changed hands several times after it was first sold for $140,000 in the 1990s. The book later resold for $1.5 million in 2010, before selling for $1.75 million in 2015, and selling for more than $2 million in 2017, according to ComicConnect Chief Operating Officer Vincent Zurzolo.
The copy sold is one of less than 100 known copies of Action Comics #1, Zurzolo said. Graded at an 8.5 out of 10, this copy is when of the best-preserved copies in the world, Zurzolo said.
Action Comics #1 is a prized book not just because it contains Superman’s first appearance but because it essentially launched the superhero genre. Superman was the first superhero to be created and his appearance launched what Zurzolo dubbed a “whole new age of comic books and fiction writing.”
New England Comics General Manager Tom Yee, an avid comic collector, said the significance of Action Comics #1 is well known in the comics community.
“In everybody’s mind Action Comics #1 is the most valuable comic in existence,” he said.
Yee said the 8.5 grade on the book sold Wednesday makes it the third-highest graded known to collectors after two graded at a 9.0. Zurzola said he sold a graded 9.0 Action Comics #1 for $3.2 million in 2014, a record broken by the most recent sale.
Both Yee and Zurzola spoke of the purchase as an “investment,” where a collector could buy the book and potentially re-sell it at a higher price as time goes on.
“Comics have been considered an investment for quite some time,” Zurzola said.
Yee said he had “no doubt this person could be trying to resell,” a common phenomenon with higher value books.
The buyer is “probably a collector that loves comics or loves the hobby,” Yee said.
Yee speculated that if an 8.0 graded Action Comics #1 came up for sale or auction it would likely sell for $2 million, which he credits to a rise in the value of vintage comics in the past five years.
Zurzola said the purchase was not “taking a chance” because the comic book market has been stable for years, and is likely to only increase in value, a result of the immense popularity of superhero and comic book movies and TV shows.
“There’s an evergreen feel of these characters,” he said.
Zurzola, who began his career selling comic books in high school and college, said it was “a thrill” for him to participate in record-breaking sales and bear witness to the growth of the industry he loves.
“It’s like a life’s passion for me,” he said. “It’s so easy when you’re selling something you truly believe in to get that across to people.”