More than an hour had passed into Thursday’s Comics and Comic Art Signature Auction in Dallas, Texas when the premier item of the day came up for bid: Lot #91113.
Dozens of vintage comic books, ranging from a 1941 “Batman” #5 to a 1937 “Detective Comics,” had just been sold off the auction floor for thousands of dollars. None, though, quite compared to what came next — “Amazing Fantasy” #15, the 1962 Marvel comic famous for marking Spider-Man’s first appearance.
“It’s the item, what can I say,” the auctioneer from Heritage Auctions said to the collectors gathered in the room. “The last one sold about 11 years ago.”
The bidding began at $260,000.
The auctioneer urged the collectors and any bidders watching via the livestream not to miss out.
“Or you can wait another 15-20 years to get another one,” he quipped.
Calverton native Walter Yakaboski, who purchased the comic in 1980 for $1,200, nervously looked on. A microphone clipped to his shirt was set to record his reaction for an upcoming television show that may air on the History Channel later this year.
The bidding jumped to $300,000, then $330,000 and $340,000. It finally settled on $380,000 as the auctioneer called out for $400,000.
“Don’t have a bad weekend,” he said.
The higher bid never came, and “Amazing Fantasy” #15 sold for a final price of $380,000, or $454,100 factoring in the buyer’s fee.
“It was like a dream a little bit there,” Mr. Yakaboski said from the airport in Dallas as he prepared to board a flight home Friday morning.
Mr. Yakaboski’s comic was the top-selling item on the first day of the three-day auction, which continues today and Saturday. Right after his top comic sold, his “The Amazing Spider Man” #1 comic came up for a bid. It sold for $110,537.
In total, the four comics of Mr. Yakaboski’s that sold Thursday fetched over a half-million dollars, he said. Both his “Amazing Fantasy” and “Spider Man” were graded a 9.4 on a scale of 1-10 by CGC Comics.
He also sold a “Fantastic Four” #1 for $31,070 and a “Brave and the Bold” #28. He wasn’t sure of the exact price for that edition because two similar copies sold, one for $19,120 and the other for $14,000. Mr. Yakaboski wasn’t immediately clear which edition was his.
A fifth comic, “Fantastic Four” #3, will go on sale Saturday, Mr. Yakaboski said.
He described his reaction as a bit of shock.
“I was hoping for more,” he said. “But you can’t always get more. And I have more that I’m going to be selling. Not as high quality and expensive as this, but I have quite a bit more.”
Mr. Yakaboski kept his comics in a safe deposit box, rarely ever touching them in the decades he owned them. Most of his high-value items were purchased between 1979 and 1981, he said.
The auction company deducts a 10 percent commission from the winning bid and Mr. Yakaboski will also be responsible for paying state and federal taxes. That will leave him with about half of the total sale price.
Mr. Yakaboski, who lives in Middle Island, hoped to possibly use the money toward purchasing his family’s property in Calverton that dates back to the 1920s. His father, John, made a living for around 60 years by potato farming. He lived at the same Calverton home until he died in 2014 at 101.
“At the very least, I now have a little more security,” Mr. Yakaboski said.
Photo Caption: Walter Yakaboski, pictured at his father’s home in Calverton Monday, sold four comics on Thursday for more than a half-million dollars. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)