Erving jersey tops Grey Flannel’s $1.73 million sale

With its latest auction, Grey Flannel Auctions broke its own record for highest auction price ever paid for a basketball jersey.

An iconic jersey worn by Julius “Dr. J” Erving during the first-ever halftime Slam Dunk Contest in 1976 soared to a closing price of $188,321, helping the 1,000-lot auction total $1.73 million. All prices quoted include the 20-percent buyer’s premium.

“The previous auction record for a game-worn basketball uniform, also held by Grey Flannel, was for a different Dr. J jersey,” said Richard E. Russek, the auction company’s president. “It was an ABA New York Nets home jersey, which we sold for $141,927 at the 2006 Basketball Hall of Fame Auction.”

Russek said he never had any doubt the record-breaking jersey in the May 14 sale was going to fly.

“I knew it was headed for success the second it walked into my office,” he said. “There was a lot of interest in it because it was such an iconic item. It represents the incredible halftime competition that brought together the ABA and NBA.”
In that contest 32 years ago, Dr. J – then the ABA’s top scorer – and Denver Nuggets rookie David Thompson put on a performance never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Together with three other top dunkers, Erving and Thompson pulled out all the stops to wow the stunned crowd with their competitive jams and slams. Ultimately, Erving was declared the winner.

The Dr. J jersey in Grey Flannel’s auction had been entered with a $25,000 reserve. According to Russek, the amount it brought will enable the consignor to help his children attend college.

“It was a wonderful result, and we’re glad we could play a role in helping with that education fund,” he added.

Bring on the jerseys
The auction bagged a number of top prices for basketball apparel. A late-1960s game-used, autographed Oscar Robertson Cincinnati Royals road jersey achieved $66,734, while a Michael Jordan game-used Chicago Bulls rookie home jersey chalked up $55,152.

“Both players are living legends, and collectors actively seek bona fide items that are closely related to the careers of Robertson and Jordan,” Russek said.

Stellar prices were realized on athletic apparel from the titans of other professional sports, as well. A Len Dawson game-used and autographed Kansas City Chiefs football helmet from Super Bowl IV, offered with an exact photo match, earned $36,716, The baseball category was topped by a game-used Derek Jeter home run bat autographed with a notation indicating it was used to hit a home run. It sold for $20,208.

Russian hockey player Sergei Zubov’s game-used 1994 New York Rangers jersey was particularly desirable because it represented the year the Rangers finally won a Stanley Cup.

“And it came with incredibly airtight provenance,” Russek said. The jersey sold for $16,979.

The blue-ribbon selection of professional sports memorabilia was accompanied by a selection of antique and vintage coin-operated antiques and amusements with provenance from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach and other museum and private sources. A Jennings 25-cent Golf Ball Vendor slot machine shot a hole in one at $7,788.

And from the annals of American history, an 1863 framed military commission signed by Abraham Lincoln was a top performer, bringing $7,988.

Grey Flannel Auctions is currently accepting basketball-related consignments for its Sept. 6 auction at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., as well as consignments of sports, entertainment, political and historical memorabilia for a winter auction.

Contact Grey Flannel Auctions at (631) 288-7800 ext. 221, or e-mail gfcsports@aol.com. View additional information about the company, plus additional prices realized, online at www.greyflannelauctions.com.

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