Auction recap: Golf items soar, music memorabilia mixed

While a 1934 Masters ticket set records, a rare Beatles poster failed to reach its reserve

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Andy Warhol's portrait of Jack Nicklaus topped $1 million at Golden Age. (Credit: Golden Age)

Welcome to cllct's weekly auction recap.

Every Monday, we'll be highlighting sales from the weekend and giving our analysis. Comments are from cllct experts Darren Rovell and Will Stern.

Golf has banner weekend

While the 2024 Masters came to a close Sunday night, two massive golf auctions concluded as well. The Golf Auction sold a 1934 Masters four-day badge for $470,857.49, marking the second-most valuable ticket ever sold at public auction.

Meanwhile, Golden Age Auctions sold an original Warhol portrait of Jack Nicklaus from Warhol’s famed "Athlete Series" for $1.12 million, doubling the previous record for the painting and becoming just the second million-dollar sale from the series in auction history, according to Altan Insights’ Bradley Calleja.

Will Stern: The Masters ticket shows sustained demand for rare, vintage golf collectibles. Yes, it’s down from the record 2022 sale, but the fact that golf now owns two of the top three spots on the all-time list will be a shock to most collectors.

As for the Nicklaus portrait, I love that this was purchased by a golfer, rather than an art collector, as noted by Golden Age. Plus, Nicklaus standing on the same plane as Ali, considering the other iconic athletes from the series (notably, Pelé), is yet another reminder of the voracious appetite for golf memorabilia in the current market.

Ali trunks pulled?

Hours before its planned auction Friday afternoon, Sotheby’s pulled down the listing for Muhammad Ali’s “Thrilla in Manila” trunks, despite early bidding topping $3.8 million. A Sotheby’s spokesperson told cllct it would be delaying the sale “until further notice.”

Stern: This is not a good look for Sotheby's. It harms the item in future sales, showing low confidence from the seller and also hurts bidders' trust in future auctions, knowing the item could be pulled at any time.

Mixed music results

The big ticket item of the weekend, a Paul McCartney and John Lennon hand-drawn Beatles concert poster, was bid up to $1.375 million but failed to meet the reserve price at Gotta Have Rock and Roll Auctions. The poster was purchased for $175,000 in 2015.

This was one of many lots at the music-centered auction house that failed to sell or fell below estimates, including a 1972 John Lennon Grammy Trustee Award (zero bids, minimum price: $150,000), a Beatles and Brian Epstein signed copy of “Please Please Me” (failed to meet minimum price of $100,000), and a 1976 Lennon and McCartney duel-signed check, which sold for $16,250 (estimate: $20,000-$25,000).

Darren Rovell: We know the Lennon McCartney original poster sold in 2015 for $175,000. What happened in the last nine years that made the consignor have a reserve higher than $1.375 million? To us, it’s not a substantive concert like the band's first Ed Sullivan appearance, a Cavern Club show or the 1965 Shea Stadium concert, so it seems strange the demand would be so high.

Stern: I was shocked to see the Beatles poster catch a bid above $1 million to begin with ... but as Rovell says, even more shocked to find out the reserve was placed even higher. This isn't a piece widely known by the broader concert poster collector community as some hidden holy grail, so it feels like the consigner got greedy on this one and struck out.

Other notable results

— Leading the way at GHRR was a Mozart signature (highlighted in our Thursday auction preview) graded PSA/DNA 8. It hit $75,000 on a single bid.

Rovell: At a single bid of $75,000, I think this could be the steal of the weekend.

— A twice-signed Beatles trademark application for the band's name in 1963 sold for $13,750

Rovell: Trademark applications do not come up too often. I remember a Nike filing for Air Jordan in Europe popped up once. This Beatles application is signed twice by Beatles manager Brian Epstein. For the price ($13,750), you would think Ringo or George signed it, too.

— At Heritage, the Grateful Dead’s “Skeleton & Roses” poster, known as the most significant concert poster in the collecting world in large part due to its legendary artists (Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley), finished at a surprisingly low $81,250. Graded CGC 9.8 (one of 10 at the grade with four higher), this marks the lowest price paid for a comparable poster since May 2019, falling short of sales occurring in November 2019 ($118,750) and December 2023 ($93,750). A lower-graded copy previously set the record for the poster in April 2022, fetching $137,500 at Heritage.

Stern: I think this result tells us the concert poster world is not nearly as tethered to the institution of grading as other nichés like cards or comics. Previously, a 9.6 had already beat out a 9.8 within months of one another, and now, we see a disappointing result for another near-perfect graded copy of the iconic FD-26 poster.

— The Beatles 1966 Shea Stadium poster finished at $137,500 at Heritage, down from its previous two sales in May 2023 ($175,000) and April 2022 ($275,000), though up over November 2020 prices.

Stern: Certainly a somewhat low result considering the rarity and desirability of the poster, but nothing that screams disaster in my eyes. When pieces like this — extremely expensive with a somehwat small community of collectors — come up for auction, the result relies on a ton of external factors. Not reading into this one too much.

— Two bright spots over the weekend at Heritage came in the form of a Rolling Stones poster, which sold for a record-high $93,750 — decimating all previous sales for the 1969 poster produced for the Altamont Festival described as “the end of the '60s." — as well as a 1955 poster for Elvis’ first concert after signing to RCA, which sold for $187,500. The only example known to exist, the poster now holds the record for any Elvis poster sold publicly. According to Elvis Day by Day - The Definitive Record of His Life and Music, Elvis and his band were paid just $1,000 for the four nights of shows.

Stern: Two examples of posters which carry nowhere near the caché of the Beatles Shea Stadium or Grateful Dead FD-26 posters, yet they notched record results. My immediate thought is to chalk this up to scarcity. Both are fresh-to-market and represent "buy this now or never see it again" opportunities for collectors.

— SCP Auctions closed, with its top lot, a George Mikan signed warm-up suit, failing to hit its reserve, despite being bid up over $100,000. A BVG 5.5 1952 Topps Mantle notched $85,602, a record for the grade.

Stern: The Mikan failing to hit its reserve is surprising considering its one-of-one nature and connection to an NBA legend. Though, warm-up suits have never been considered to be in the same ballpark as jerseys and a bid over $100,000 is nothing to turn up your nose at. As for the Mantle sale, it’s yet another data point representing the strength of the Mantle card in every grade, despite comparably massive population when considering other cards valued in the same price bracket.

[A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Mikan suit failed to hit its minimum. It has since been corrected to state that it failed to meet its reserve, despite receiving bids over $100,000]

— Goldin's No. 1 lot in their Elite Pop Culture auction, a Superman No. 1 comic book graded CGC 1.5, sold for $137,860.

Stern: This is slightly low but basically in line with the price trend for the grade. If collectors expected to see a price bump for golden age comics coming off of the record-breaking $6 million sale at Heritage, they will be dissapointed. Otherwise, business as usual.

— During a night with dozens of Type 1 photos, most of which sold for under $1,000, a type 1 photo of Jeff Bezos from his high-school yearbook sold for $8,601. Why? His signature is on the back, which was not noted by PSA or Goldin.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct. You can follow him on X at @Will__Stern.

Darren Rovell is the founder of and one of the country's leading reporters on the collectible market. He previously worked for ESPN, CNBC and The Action Network.