Heritage Auctions, the largest auction house founded in the United States, reported total first quarter sales of $337,410,572, an increase of 16 per cent over the same period last year. Revenue was driven by world record-breaking sales of US and World and Ancient coins, Comics and Comic Art and Sports memorabilia.
Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, sales show steady, year-over-year first quarter growth: from a 7 percent increase from 2019 to 2020 to this year’s 16 percent increase.
“This double-digit growth comes at a time when Heritage is making its most significant moves in the last 40 years,” said Steve Ivy, CEO of Heritage Auctions. “The remarkable results also speak to the innovative and tireless teamwork of Heritage’s employees.”
World records started rolling in at the beginning of the year in terms of the company’s comic-related sales, as a copy of 1940s Batman #1 sold for $2.22 million to a bidder who had never purchased a comic book at auction before.
The record kicked off a four-day event, that realised $12 million, more than 50 per cent above pre-sale estimates. The auction also marked the sale ofa Pokémon First Edition Base Set Sealed Booster Box (Wizards of the Coast, 1999), which set a world record when it ended at $408,000.
In March, an auction of International Comic and Animation Art broke $1.57 million. The nearly sold-out auction set a world artist auction record for acclaimed award-winner Charles Burns, when his cover to 1982’s RAW No. 4, Art Spiegelman and wife Francoise Mouly‘s beloved international comics anthology, realised $87,500.
The auction closely followed the record-setting sales in the firm’s weekly auctions of Comics and Comic Art, which set a company records of $621,231 on 1st February and nearly $700,000 on 15th February. The totals smashed the previous record for a weekly auction, when Heritage’s weekly total reached $573,095 in March 2019.
“We’ve seen an ever-increasing number of bidders participating in these online auctions, resulting in near back-to-back record weekly sales,” said Jim Halperin, Co-Founder of Heritage Auctions. “The market has never been better for vintage comics and comic art and we’re seeing that play out week after week.”
March sales set the stage for the firm’s early second quarter April 1-4 Comic & Comic Art Auction, which set the world record for the industry’s largest auction of its kind with more than $16.5 million in total sales, including $3.3 million worth of vintage video games, which included the world’s most expensive video game ever sold when a 1986 copy of Super Mario Bros. sold for $660,000.
Also in that auction was Simon Bisley‘s painted cover for Lobo #1, which reached an astonishing $192,000, surely a record price for a British comic artist.
“I know Simon is popular, and Lobo was a big success in the 90s- but this big?” noted comics artist and author David Roach. “I guess the fans that loved Simon’s work in the 1990s are now of an age where they can afford these sorts of prices…. and it’s a beautifully painted image….. but even so, I’m genuinely amazed.
• For more information regarding Heritage Auctions’ 41 categories of fine art and collectibles as well as its full auction calendar, visit HA.com