Unopened 1986-87 Fleer case, featuring dozens of Michael Jordan rookie cards, sells for $1.8M

Cassandra Negley
·Writer
·3 min read

An unopened case of 1986-87 Fleer basketball cards that struggled to sell at 10 cents a pack in the ’80s went for nearly $1.8 million in an auction late Thursday night. The price point is a record.

The set was up for sale by Collect Auctions, based out of Wisconsin, Darren Rovell of the Action Network reported. The buyer’s identity was not released. They could contain up to 40 newly popular Michael Jordan rookie cards as well as Jordan stickers.

Unpopular Fleer basketball set sells for $1.8M

The 1986-87 Fleer basketball set was mostly ignored while baseball cards remained the rage. All sets of cards, both basketball and baseball, were marked at 50 cents a piece.

In some parts of the country, the cards were marked down to 10 cents. But they still didn’t sell, per Rovell.

“We couldn’t move those packs,” Bob Elliott of SportsCard Plus in Lacey, New Jersey, told the Action Network. “In fact, at $6 a box, we got our money back by returning them back to Fleer.”

The case contains 12 boxes of 36 packs each. At the auction price, the buyer paid $149,143 per box. It is a 36 percent increase from the previous record. And the packs that couldn’t sell for 10 cents each sold for $4,143 each.

Jordan cards sought as part of case

Basketball players with the No. 1 sign holding a basketball on a court.
The top two 1987 NBA Rookie of the Year candidates, the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan (left) and the Houston Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon, are part of a $1.8 million case of basketball cards. (Getty Images)

An opened case has been sought after by collectors for decades since it has prominent rookie cards in it. Topps had ceased making basketball cards from 1981 until the 1990s, leaving all rookie cards to Fleer.

Via Sports Collectors Daily at the time the auction went up:

“The last time I knew of a sealed 1986-87 Fleer case hitting the market was in the late 1990s. I haven’t handled a sealed case since the late ’80s and didn’t think one still existed,’’ said Steve Hart, owner of Baseball Card Exchange, which has long specialized in vintage unopened material.

The consigner is Jeremy Fritsch of Fritsch Cards in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He has sold boxes of unopened cards before.

This case started at a minimum bid of $250,000 and hit $1 million within minutes, per Sports Collectors Daily. It holds around 36 to 40 Jordan rookie cards, which are widely popular again after “The Last Dance” aired on ESPN and later hit streaming giant Netflix.

It also has about three dozen Jordan stickers, another valuable commodity. A mint 10-grade 1986-87 Fleer Jordan sticker sold for nearly $20,000 in 2016.

The case also likely includes rookie cards for Hall of Famers Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler and Patrick Ewing, among others.

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