LeBron, Wemby jerseys crush estimates at Sotheby's

Auction led by $180,000 sale of record-setting LeBron jersey

Cover Image for LeBron, Wemby jerseys crush estimates at Sotheby's
A game-used jersey from Victor Wembanyama's rookie season sold for$108,000, more than double the high estimate.. (Credit: Sotheby's)

The jersey LeBron James donned on the night he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabaar to become the NBA's all-time leader in minutes played sold for $180,000 at Sotheby's on Thursday night, crushing initial estimates of $50,000 to $70,000.

Sotheby's, which has ramped up its game-worn jersey sales since signing a deal in November 2023 to become the official game-worn source of the NBA, had more than 100 jerseys up for bid as part of its "City & Icon Capsule" auction, including eight gamers which sold for more than $10,000 (including James' jersey).

After the historic sale of lot No. 1, which marked yet another headline-grabbing result for a James jersey, Sotheby's sold a Victor Wembanyama jersey from early in his 2023-24 rookie season for $108,000 — more than double the high estimate.

The jersey, worn during Wembanyama's 17th career game and seventh career double-double, was yet another reminder of the sky-rocketing prices of Wembanyama jerseys. During Sotheby's first auction as an official partner of the NBA, it sold his NBA debut jersey for $762,000.

The auction house has since sold six Wembanyama jerseys from official NBA games , including one worn in a game on his 20th birthday for $120,000, his Kia Skills Challenge All-Star jersey for $44,450 and his In-Season Tournament debut jersey for $82,550. Thursday's sale was the third-highest price paid for a Wembanyama jersey at public auction.

Jayson Tatum's 2022 NBA Finals Game 2 jersey fetched $38,400 against a $20,000 high estimate. That sale bodes well for Tatum collectors as his 2024 NBA Finals Game 2 jersey, worn earlier this month as he led the Celtics to a title, will be auctioned at Sotheby's in early July.

NBA Finals MVP Jaylen Brown's 2023-24 In-Season Tournament jersey beat its high estimate of $5,000, fetching $6,600.

Other top lots included a Steph Curry jersey ($19,200), a Nikola Jokic jersey ($11,400) and a Luka Dončić jersey worn during the In-Season Tournament ($16,800), all from the 2023-24 season.

The 104-lot auction was one of the most successful Sotheby's has held since the launch of the partnership, as the sale saw positive results throughout, with more than 74 percent of lots either reaching or surpassing its estimate range.

Amid the broadly positive results were a few disappointing prices, particularly for role players and lesser-known names such as a Nikola Vučević jersey which sold for $720 (estimate: $2,000 to $3,000), a Precious Achiuwa jersey closing at $480 (estimate: $750 to $1,250) and a Cory Joseph jersey which finished at $360 (estimate: $500 to $1,000).

Sotheby's, which has been selling game-worn jerseys on its fixed marketplace since May, will continue to expand its offerings in the space, following this auction with another running July 2-9.

This next auction will feature around 200 game-worn jerseys from the 2024 playoffs and NBA Finals, led by five NBA Finals jerseys from Jayson Tatum (Game 2, Estimate: $30,000 to $50,000), Luka Dončić (Game 1, Estimate: $25,000 to $35,000), Dončić (Game 2, Estimate: $20,000 to $30,000), Kyrie Irving (Game 1, Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000) and Jaylen Brown (Game 2, Estimate: $10,000 to $15,000).

This will be the first time jerseys from the 2024 NBA Finals are offered publicly, coming less than a month after its conclusion.

Other auction houses and marketplaces have offered jerseys from recent games with similar speed — such as Fanatics-run NHL Auctions, which sold Connor McDavid's Stanley Cup Game 3 jersey just four days after the game for more than $70,000 this week.

However, its NBA partnership allows Sotheby's to not only bring jerseys from the court to the auction block in rapid fashion, but also leverage its strong brand and rolodex of wealthy clients to maximize results.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.