by Michael Brown, staff writer
After 10 days on auction at eBay, the finest known-to-exist copy of Action Comics #1 has sold for a record $3,207,852, the highest price ever paid for a comic book. The debut of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman, owned by Darren Adams of Pristine Comics in Federal Way, Washington, was graded 9.0 by The Certified Guaranty Company, or CGC, a company that grades the condition for comic books, then protects the comic by placing it in a state-of -the-art, tamper-proof protective holder. Ironically enough, the proud new owner of the pristine comic is Metropolis Comics/ComicConnect, themselves well-known dealers of vintage and hard-to-find comics, who in fact, served as the auctioneers for previous record holder Nicolas Cage, whose copy of Action Comics #1 sold for $2.16 million in November 2011. The difference in price? The quality of the pages. While both Cage and Adams’ copies had 9.0 CGC ratings, the pages on Cage’s copy were said to be “cream to off-white,” according to the CGC, while Adams’ copy is considered “pristine.” Both copies, however, are the only two copies to receive a rating that high.
It may be worth noting that Stephen Fishler and fellow Metropolis Comics/ComicConnect owner Vincent Zurzolo are no strangers to comic auctions, having picked up a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #328 for $657,250 back in 2012.
The Adams copy is the first comic to break the $3 million dollar mark, and the sixth to sell for over a million. The other four, not including the Nicolas Cage copy, were Action Comics #1 CGC 8.5 for 1.5 million in March 2010, an Action Comics #1 CGC 8.0 for an even $1 million in February 2010, and an Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of Spider-Man) CGC 9.6 that sold $1.1 million in March 2011, which were all sold by Metropolis/ComicConnect. The fourth was a copy of Detective Comics #27 sold by Heritage Auctions for $1,075,000 in February 2010.
The record-breaking comic was acquired several years ago by Adams in a private sale and kept in a temperature-controlled vault. Adams said the original owner bought the comic from a newsstand in 1938 and had kept it in a cedar box for 40 years, until a dealer in West Virginia purchased it in an estate sale. The comic was then passed to a third person, who held onto it for 30 years. Adams, the fourth owner, was offered $3 million for the comic privately, but turned down the offer, electing instead to sell it on eBay, and donating a portion of the sale to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury.
There are thought to be only 30 copies of Action Comics #1 still left in existence. The issue was released in June 1938, and sold on newsstands for 10 cents.