Could This 2003-04 Exquisite LeBron James Be the First Million Dollar Basketball Card?


If pre-auction estimates are correct, a 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite LeBron James rookie autograph patch card could become the first basketball card to top the $1 million mark.

2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch Autograph Parallel LeBron James

It’s part of Goldin Auctions‘ 2020 Summer Auction that opens on June 22. Bidding runs for almost a month, closing on Saturday, July 18.

It’s a parallel version of James’ most valuable Rookie Card and comes with both an on-card autograph and patch piece. While the regular RC has 99 copies, this one has just 23 copies (14/23), which matches James’ jersey number. It comes with a Gem Mint BGS 9.5 grade with 9.5 subgrades for centering, surface and edges. The corners have a grade of 9. Only one other copy of the parallel has a 9.5 grade. None are higher.

“We expect this will surpass the record recently set by the $922,500 Mike Trout card to become the most valuable basketball and most valuable modern card of all time,” said Ken Goldin, Goldin Auctions founder and CEO.

In December, 2019, a regular copy of the 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite LeBron James Rookie Card numbered to 99 went for $193,200. It had a grade of NM-MT BGS 8. A couple of months earlier in October, another one of the parallel versions (16/23), graded BGS 8.5, closed at $270,600.

The record price for a basketball card was set in February, 2020 with a one-of-one 2003-04 Exquisite dual Logoman patch of James and Michael Jordan. It sold for $900,000 in a private sale facilitated by Goldin Auctions.


Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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  1. Marc Frances 17 June, 2020 at 10:21

    This is absolutely amazing. However, it would have a much greater effect if it was pulled out of a pack that EVERYONE could’ve afforded to buy. 500.00 packs are well out of reach for most collectors. Still a great card, just not(!in my opinion), that big a deal. Show me a 52 Mantle in that grade going for that much now that’s impressive.

  2. Dennis 26 June, 2020 at 21:56

    I think winning the Lottery would be easier than finding one of those cards of Lebron James . I would never pay 500 a pack for a chance. Good luck for the ones that do buy a pack.

  3. Julius Ulit 30 June, 2020 at 11:39

    If I had the money to throw around on a $25,000 hobby box I could but I’m better off buying the single LOL. Amazing how far modern bkball cards have been driven to the last 20 years. If it was a LeBron 23/23 I think it would even approach $2M.

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