Six game-worn jerseys from NBA playoffs top $50k at Sotheby's

Auction house says NBA initiative has brought in new, younger consumers

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Jayson Tatum, Luka Dončić and Jaylen Brown jerseys from the NBA Finals all sold for big numbers. (Credit: Sotheby's)

Six NBA game-worn jerseys sold for more than $50,000 each Monday night as Sotheby's auctioned jerseys from the 2024 postseason.

Three jerseys from Game 2 of the NBA Finals attracted bidders. A worn Jayson Tatum jersey commanded a $108,000 price, Luka Dončić's jersey was sold for $84,000 and Jaylen Brown's went for $60,000.

Also among the highest-priced jerseys in the 195-lot sale was an Anthony Edwards jersey worn during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, as well as six other games ($84,000). Dončić's Game 1 jersey from his NBA Finals debut sold for $50,400, as did a LeBron James jersey worn in two games during the Lakers' first-round elimination.

"The high end did really well," said Brahm Wachter, head of modern collectibles at Sotheby's.

Wachter said he thought the most remarkable item was the Edwards jersey. While most jerseys being sold by Sotheby's, through their direct partnership with the NBA, are worn for one to three games, the Edwards one showed extensive use as he emerged as a force for Minnesota.

Wachter said Sotheby's isn't in control of how much a player uses a particular jersey. Unless it's an incredible game, greater use has the chance to return a higher number.

"It all depends on the teams and the protocols they have in place," Wachter said. "The Mavericks happened to wear the same jerseys they wore in the Finals for other rounds. The Celtics didn't."

Wachter said he thought the steal of the whole auction was the Jamie Jaquez Jr. playoff debut jersey, which sold for $2,040. Jaquez was one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this year, ranked in the top 10 among rookies in points, assists and steals.

So far in 2024, Sotheby's has sold nearly 700 lots as part of its relationship with the NBA. In numbers shared exclusively with cllct, 60 percent of all bidders and more than 75 percent of total buyers have been entirely new to Sotheby's.

"These are categories that are attracting younger audiences," Wachter said. "The average sale of about $7,000 is a lot lower than we're accustomed to, such as a $100,000 work of art, but it's a low-entry point, and it allows our brand to be relevant so that when these younger people have a different level of success in their career, they have already been introduced to us."

The auction firm says 50 percent of bidders on its NBA auctions are under the age of 40, and 25 percent of them are in their 20s, a demo that never interacted with Sotheby's before.

One area of value seen by collectors who might not have the wherewithal to go big is the game-worn shorts. Tatum's shorts from Game 2 of the Finals sold for $3,840, 28 times less than his jersey.

Wachter said he loves the value of game-used shorts and thinks they are underrated. "I'm not sure they'll be this cheap for too long," Wachter said.

A second NBA Finals auction that will feature uniforms from later games will been auctioned off live in New York on July 30 and online on Aug. 1.

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