A Kobe Bryant jersey from the 2007-08 season, during which he won his only MVP award, has sold for a record-breaking $5,849,700 through Sotheby’s. It’s now the second most expensive basketball jersey in history. The lot includes images of murals depicting Bryant wearing the jersey that have popped up around the world since his death three years ago.
There’s also a collection of photographs, artwork, magazines, newspapers, T-shirts, pins, books, and more in the lot, along with a letter of authenticity and photo matching.
According to Brahm Wachter, Sotheby’s Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectibles, “This jersey is iconic in a way we seldom see in sports artifacts.”
Bryant wore the uniform for 25 of the 82 games he played in the 2007-08 season, including the Western Conference finals, when he was awarded his MVP trophy.
The previous record for the highest-selling basketball jersey was broken when a signed Bryant jersey from his rookie season sold for $3.69 million in 2021. That record was then surpassed by a Michael Jordan jersey from Game 1 of the 1998 “Last Dance” NBA Finals, which sold for $10.091 million through Sotheby’s in September 2022.
Just a few non-sports card items have ever sold for more than $5 million, including Babe Ruth’s jersey from 1928-1930, which sold for $5.64 million in June 2019 through Hunt Auctions. Other high-priced memorabilia includes Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” championship belt ($6.18 million with Heritage Auctions in July 2022), the 1892 Olympic Games manifesto ($8.8 million in 2019), Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” jersey ($9.28 million with Sotheby’s in May 2022), and Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey ($10.1 million).
Sotheby’s has brokered four of the six highest-priced pieces of sports memorabilia ever, including the Bryant, Maradona, and Jordan jerseys.