By Abdulhamid Ibrahim
A piece of hockey history is going up for auction.
Wayne Gretzky’s game-used stick from the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the Boston Bruins in 1988 will be offered through Sotheby’s Sealed from Tuesday to July 25.
The memorabilia — which is estimated to rake in more than US$500,000 at auction — will also be on display at Sotheby’s New York from Thursday to July 24.
The 1988 title was Gretzky’s fourth Stanley Cup win and earned his second Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP with 43 points (12 goals, 31 assists) through 19 post-season games.
“To have something like this is really remarkable,” said Sotheby’s Head of Streetwear and Modern Collectables, Brahm Wachter.
“You’re talking about really the greatest to ever grace the ice and you’re talking about his last championship, which of course helped cement his name into the history books.”
The estimate for the auction was based upon multiple factors.
“We looked at an auction that happened a little more than a year ago, might be a year-and-a-half or two years, where the jersey and the gloves from the 1988 Stanley Cup were sold,” Wachter said.
“I think the gloves achieved something like $200,000, the jersey achieved $1.5 million. We figured that this would be somewhere in-between those two particularly because the market has actually gone up since that sale.”
Sotheby’s got a hold of the stick — which is also dated by Gretzky himself — from a private collector who opted to sell it. The company had previously sold a Gretzky stick from his final NHL game for $140,000 in 2022.
Wachter said part of the process in taking on such memorabilia for auction is photo matching.
“We look at tiny little details, whether there are scuff marks, unique marks, graining on the wood, we might look at a lot of different things,” Wachter said. “What we do is, we match the physical item to photographs of Gretzky playing in conjunction with provenance.
“This stick has provenance but then additionally, it was photo matched to the 1988 Stanley Cup finals. We photo matched it to generally that period of the Cup and then Gretzky actually signed it in his own hand and he dated it May 26, 1988, which was the date of the last championship game.”
It’s not the first of Gretzky memorabilia to draw such a big price at auction.
In May 2021, Heritage Auctions said it sold a 1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky rookie card to an anonymous buyer for $3.75 million.
That broke its previous record for a hockey card from December 2020 when Heritage sold the only other one of two Gretzky rookie cards to receive a perfect “gem mint” score from Professional Sports Authenticator for $1.29 million.
That marked the first hockey card to go for more than $1 million.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2023.
Banner image via The Canadian Press