Superman's Debut Comic Fetches Record $3.2 Million at Auction

The rare copy of 'Action Comics,' Number One received only 48 bids

Superman
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Action Comics No. 1
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A rare copy of Action Comics, Number One, which introduced the world to Superman (and cost only a dime in 1938), has sold in an eBay auction for $3,207,852 – the highest amount ever paid for a comic book. The auction, which ran between August 14th and the 24th, reached its massive selling price after a mere 48 bids.

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This particular copy (sold by Darren Adams, owner of Pristine Comics) was graded a 9.0 out of 10 by independent comic grader Certified Guaranty Company (CGC). It's also one of an estimated 50 to 100 in existence – and one of two with that high of a grade. (According to The New York Times, the other copy was previously owned by actor Nicolas Cage and sold at auction for $2.1 million.) To many comic collectors, this is the holy grail, as it ushered in the legendary Superman era. 

Adams recently told The Washington Post that his copy was "a freak-of-nature work," saying he bought it for a seven-figure price from the original owner, who preserved the item in a cedar chest in the mountains of West Virginia after buying it from a newsstand in 1938. 

"I actually held it for a few years – I was so excited about this book," Adams said. "Most books have a history. . . but this book was totally off the grid, and nobody knew about it 'til I made it known." In the original eBay posting, Adams describes the item as "the Mona Lisa of comics."

According to The New York Times, there are several other comics in the million-dollar club, including two additional copies of Action Comics, Number One (one which sold for $1 million in February of 2010 and another which sold for $1.5 million that March). Others include a copy of Detective Comics, Number 27 (Batman's debut), which sold for more than $1 million in February 2010, and a rare Amazing Fantasy, Number 15 (Spider-Man's first appearance), which brought in $1.1 million in March of 2011.

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