Rare Kobe Bryant card sells for a record $2 million

Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal celebrate a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, right, and Shaquille O’Neal celebrate a win over the Portland Trail Blazers on April 15, 2001 at Staples Center.
(Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

One of the rarest Kobe Bryant cards has set a record for the most expensive Bryant card sold.

The 1997-98 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Emerald Kobe Bryant card sold for $2 million last week, according to PWCC Marketplace, an online trading card marketplace. The record sale occurred privately.

The card shows Bryant, wearing No. 8, passing a basketball in front of an emerald background. The card doesn’t have an autograph nor is it a rookie card.

The 1997 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Precious Metal Gems Emerald Kobe Bryant card.
The 1997 Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems Precious Metal Gems Emerald Kobe Bryant card sold privately for a record $2 million last week.
(PWCC Marketplace)

The card’s condition report scores 9.5 for centering, 8.5 for edges, 8 for corners and 9 for surfaces with an overall score of 8.5 from Beckett Grading Service. According to Jesse Craig, director of business development at PWCC, it’s the company’s highest score.

“This is arguably Kobe’s best card in existence,” said Craig. “It’s more desirable than even a Kobe Bryant rookie card or a Kobe Bryant autograph. The grade on this is also the highest that exists, with only one other BGS 8.5 in the world.”

Other than its BGS score, what makes the card a hot commodity is its emerald variation of the Precious Metal Gems issue, since there are only 10 of each issue in existence. Also, the design of the card changed how manufacturers approached “insert” style cards.

“These Precious Metal Gems variants are arguably the most desired insert card in the entire world,” Craig said. “These set the tone for the insert market going forward. It’s just incredibly difficult to find them in any condition, and because of their delicate nature, to find one in such good condition is incredibly rare.”

In this excerpt from “The Rise,” Kobe Bryant, newly a teen, has his first glimpse into his basketball destiny when he was introduced to Michael Jordan.

Feb. 20, 2022

In March 2021, a rookie Bryant card sold for nearly $1.8 million, which at the time was the record for any Bryant card sold.


Bryant, a former Laker and one of the most beloved athletes in the world, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26, 2020, at age 41.