THE MAN OF STEEL has just secured the Record Deal.
The first superhero to launch the comic-book industry is now comics’ first $2-million man.
A rare 1938 comic book that features Superman’s historic debut sold at auction Wednesday night for $2.16-million, the auction/consignment site ComicConnect tells Comic Riffs.
The near-mint-condition copy of Action Comics No.-1 easily beat the record of about $1.5-million set in 2010 by the same issue, according to ComicConnect and sister partnership Metropolis Collectibles, which also conducted last year’s record sale.
“The buyer was extremely excited about the prospect of bidding on this,” ComicConnect/Metropolis COO Vincent Zurzolo tells Comic Riffs minutes after the bidding closed at 7:25 p.m. ET. “I think he had an adrenalin rush for the last two hours.
“As soon as he won it, he gave me a call and thanked me. ...,” Zurzolo continues. “He’s very excited to have it. This is a guy who loves owning the best of the best.”
Zurzolo says he is not at liberty to disclose the identity of the buyer, but he could acknowledge that “this is a customer we have a relationship with.”
The record-setting book is graded to be in “9.0” condition — the best copy of Action Comics No.-1 Zurzolo says he’s ever seen.
Reported stolen in 2000, the book was recovered early this year in a storage locker near Los Angeles. It was “raw” and not protected, found in a stack of magazines, says Zurzolo, noting how surprised he was that it weathered the lost decade so well.
“We thought it was going to be creased, but it was beautiful,” he tells Comic Riffs. “It is so close to perfect. This book has got freshness and bounce ... it’s simply stunning.” There are estimated to be about 100 extant copies of the issue, few in good condition.
In 2010, there was a spasm of big-spending on Action Comics No.-1and Detective Comics No.-27 (Batman’s debut), with the ping-ponging record escalating to more than $1.5-million.
When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster debuted Superman in the summer of ‘38, the cover cost was 10 cents.
Metropolis Collectibles says the current “9.0” issue has twice before been the most valuable comic book: It set records when it sold in 1992 (for $86,000) and again in 1997 ($150,000).
At the time the “9.0” book went missing, it reportedly was owned by actor Nicolas Cage; the Oscar-winning actor is a Super-fan who once was cast to play the Last Son of Krypton himself. (The actor — whose stage name reportedly was inspired by comic character Luke Cage — in 2005 gave his newborn son the same birth name as that of Superman: Kal-El.)
ComicConnect said it could not disclose the previous owner, but Zurzolo says that his New York-based company was involved with authorities and the owner in the recovery of the record-setting book.
“There are not many times when you get to be the hero,” Zurzolo tells Comic Riffs, “but this one time, we were.”
[A MILLION-DOLLAR-PLUS ‘SUPERMAN’? Rare comic expected to fetch record price Wednesday]
[CAPTAIN AMERICA: As he turns 98, co-creator Joe Simon reflects on a legendary career]
[STAN LEE: Why enduring superheroes still matter]