NEW YORK - A rare copy of the first comic book featuring Superman sold Monday for US$1 million, smashing the previous record price for a comic book.
A 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1, widely considered the Holy Grail of comic books, was sold from a private seller to a private buyer, neither of whom released their names. The issue features Superman lifting a car on its cover and originally cost 10 cents.
The transaction was conducted by the auction site ComicConnect.com. Stephen Fishler, co-owner of the site and its sister dealership, Metropolis Collectibles, orchestrated the sale.
Fishler said it transpired minutes after the issue was put on sale at around 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. He said that the seller was a "well known individual" in New York with a pedigree collection, and that the buyer was a known customer who previously bought an Action Comics No. 1 of lesser grade.
The previous comic book record was set last year when John Dolmayan, drummer for the rock band System of a Down, paid $317,000 for an Action Comics No. 1 issue. Attempts to reach him for comment on Monday's sale were not immediately successful.
This copy fetched a much higher price because it's in better condition. It's rated an "8.0 grade," or "very fine."
There are only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 believed to be in existence, and only a handful have been rated so highly. It's rarer still for those copies to be made available for sale.
"The opportunity to buy an un-restored, high-grade Action One comes along once every two decades," Fishler said. "It's certainly a milestone."
Given its condition and rarity, that such a comic book would sell for so much wasn't surprising to Fishler. But the sticker shock was nevertheless astounding.
"It is still a little stunning to see 'a comic book' and '$1 million' in the same sentence," Fishler said. "There's only one time a collectible hits the $1-million threshold."