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Gretzky’s 1988 Stanley Cup Final is up for auction

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A piece of hockey history is up for auction.

Wayne Gretzky’s baton used in the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup winning game against the Boston Bruins in 1988 will be on display at Sotheby’s Sealed from Tuesday to July 25.

The memorabilia—which is expected to fetch more than $500,000 at auction—will be on display at Sotheby’s New York from Thursday through July 24.

The 1988 title was Gretzky’s fourth Stanley Cup win and his second Conn Smith Trophy as playoff MVP with 43 points (12 goals, 31 assists) in 19 post-season games.

“Having something like that is really cool,” said Brahm Wachter, head of streetwear and modern collectibles at Sotheby’s.

“You really talk about the greatest snowboarder of all time and you talk about his most recent championship, which of course helped cement his name in the history books.”

The bid estimate was based on several factors.

“We looked at an auction that took place a little over a year ago, maybe a year and a half or two years ago, where the 1988 Stanley Cup jersey and gloves were sold,” Wachter said.

“I think the gloves brought in close to $200,000 and the shirt $1.5 million. We figured it would be somewhere in between those two especially because the market has really gone up since that sale.”

Sotheby’s acquired a piece of the wand—also dated by Gretzky himself—from a private collector who chose to sell it. The company previously sold Gretzky’s stick in his last NHL game for $140,000 in 2022.

Part of the process of auctioning off these memorabilia, Wachter said, is matching the photos.

“We look at very small details, whether it’s scuff marks, unique marks, or grain on the wood, we can look at a lot of different things,” Wachter said. “What we do is match the physical element with footage of Gretzky playing with the source material.

“That baton has a provenance, but on top of that, the photo was from the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals game. We usually match it to that cup period, and then Gretzky actually signed it. It’s in his hand and it’s dated May 26, 1988, which is the date of the last league game.”

This isn’t the first Gretzky memorabilia to fetch such a high price at auction.

In May 2021, Heritage Auctions said it sold a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky Starter Card to an anonymous buyer for $3.75 million.

That broke the previous record for a hockey card in December 2020 when Heritage sold the only other of two Gretzky mini cards to receive a perfect score “Jewel Mint” from Professional Sports Authenticator for $1.29 million.

It was the first hockey card worth over a million dollars.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 18, 2023.

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