'Greatest Unopened Find' of the Century Sells for $3.7M

Saskatchewan family's find could contain dozens of Wayne Gretzky rookie cards
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2024 1:21 PM CST
Updated Mar 2, 2024 6:30 AM CST

Heritage Auctions calls it the "greatest unopened find of the 21st century." An unopened case of hockey cards from the 1979-80 season was sold for $3.72 million after a bidding war over the weekend, the Regina Leader-Post reports. The case of O-Pee-Chee cards contains 16 unopened boxes of cards, each holding 48 packs of 14 cards. That adds up to 10,752 cards —and with a total of 396 cards in the set, there's a very strong chance that the buyer has obtained around 27 highly prized Wayne Gretzky rookie cards. The auction house says the box was found by a family in Regina, Saskatchewan, who are "over the moon" about the sale price.

Jason Simonds, a sports cards specialist at the auction house, tells the BBC that it would be "a pretty big statistical anomaly" for the case to hold much fewer than 27 Gretzkys. He says the case was found when a son was helping his father, an "old-school collector," clear out a basement office. He says the father bought the case many years ago, intending to split it up and sell it, but never got around to it. The price, Simonds says, "surpassed our wildest expectations. He tells the CBC that it is "one of the highest-priced items ever sold at Heritage, and it's certainly the highest price sold unopened item in the sports collectibles market."

While many of the cards may be worth next to nothing, Gretzky rookie cards are a worth a lot more than their weight in gold, the Leader-Post notes. Heritage sold one of them for almost $1 million in 2020, and later brokered a $2.9 million sale of a Gretzky card classed as "Gem Mint 10 level." Simonds say the Regina family probably has more big paydays to come. He says they found enough baseball cards to fill up a van, including cases from the late 1970s. (More sports collectibles stories.)

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