I was in Paris when this news broke, which is probably good because I would have lost a day to the news that CGC had graded a new Action Comics #1 CGC 9.0 and that it would be for sale on eBay.
On comic book drama
The scan above is from a pull-out spread in the Overstreet Price Guide that came out around the same time. The timing of all these releases was aided by the fact that the book was hidden from the CGC Census after being graded in February.
Which is the first piece of interesting (and controversial) information about this book that came out over the past week.
The second is that the book was previously graded 8.0 four years ago when it last sold in a private sale. It never appeared in the census at that time and has remained hidden until now. This ability to keep books out of the census came as a surprise to people and was seen as a serious issue by a number of folks on the CGC Forum. While I'm not happy with it I'm also not so sure how much damage this practice can really do as anyone who's serious enough to buy an Action #1 has to have some sense that there's a hidden well of copies outside of the census. Still, I'd rather have as much transparency as possible, so I'd love to see CGC end the practice of keeping books out of the census. There are already enough problems in the census with ghost books living on well after they've gone on to live in a new, upgraded, holder.
Beyond that, it's crazy to me that this book sold that recently and was graded 8.0 at the time. Somewhere in the past four years the book got a one point bump and is now poised to break the record for the highest price paid for a comic book. I would love to know what the sale was for in 2010. Considering the timing it has to have been a pretty significant number.
On the book
Bump or no bump this is a beautiful copy of Action #1. It's got white pages and it's not a weak designation. Structurally it's also very sound. It presents really well. This is probably the coolest book in a CGC holder (in addition to being set to become the most valuable. )
This is clearly at least the second best known copy of Action #1. That's rarefied air right there.
On the auction
It looks like the book will have an opening bid or a reserve of $3,000,000. That's the number that people have to prove they have in liquid assets in order to pre-qualify to bid. I think that's a realistic number to aim for, but it seems like an aggressive approach to selling the book. Maybe it won't matter here because this is a unique item, but I've never felt great about the performance of auctions on eBay that are either high reserve or start in with a minimum bid that's over GPA. This is 40% (give or take) over the previous record.
I want to see the book sell, so I'm hoping my misgivings about the format are misplaced.
My real hope is that this is somewhat staged in that there's a known entity ready to break the ice on the book who they know will be willing and able to buy the book. What I would really prefer would be a true auction, starting in at .99 and 100 bids later it breaks $3,000,000, but it's not my book to sell, so there it is.
I'm officially confused about eBay as a venue, by the way. I know that the fees on eBay are much lower on paper than any of the other auction houses, but I can't help but think that the flow of information around this book would have been more positive if the book was being auctioned in this month's Comic Connect Event Auction or at the current Heritage Signature Auction. Of course, with a $3,000,000 book, every percentage point counts, so maybe the low fees on eBay beat out any other concern.
Just a few days until it goes live. I'll be covering the book until it sells, so keep your eyes on the site to get my take on this historic auction.