It has become the most famous individual copy of any comic book in the world. And now, the Nicolas Cage copy of Action Comics #1, graded CGC 9.0 and the best copy ever evaluated by the industry's third-party grading service Comics Guaranty Corporation, has sold for the highest price ever paid for a comic book. The auction for the 1938 comic book closed just moments ago at the price of $2,161,000.
It is the first comic book to break the $2 million barrier.
The book was auctioned by high-end comic collectible auction house Comic Connect, which has now sold 4 of the 5 comic books to break the million dollar mark: the previous record holder Action Comics #1 CGC 8.5 for $1.5 million in March 2010, an Action Comics #1 8.0 for $1 million in February 2010, and an Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of Spider-Man) CGC 9.6 for $1.1 million in March 2011. Heritage Auctions sold a copy of Detective Comics #27 CGC 8.0 for $1,075,000 in February 2010.
The new record-holding copy of Action Comics #1 has quite a fabled history, as Bleeding Cool was the first to tell you. It was sold by Sotheby's in 1992 for $82,500, and sold to Nicolas Cage in 1997 by Metropolis / Comic Connect's Stephen Fishler for $150,000.
Then, in 2000, this Action Comics #1, a copy of Detective Comics #27, and a copy of Detective Comics #1 were stolen from Cage's home. Cage, a well-known comic book fan and at the time the owner of a jaw-dropping vintage comic book collection, was extremely disheartened by the theft and subsequently sold his entire collection with Heritage Auctions. The announcement of the sale became infamous late night talk show and gossip mag fodder because Cage married Lisa Marie Presley just days after announcing that he was selling his comic books.
The comic was recovered by Los Angeles police in April 2011 after being discovered in a San Fernando Valley storage locker. As news broke of the recovery in April, Cage told ABC News that he would seek to have the comic returned to him. Though there was extensive debate in the vintage collecting community as to whether Cage would be able to recover the comic due to possible insurance claim issues — and Comic Connect has never divulged the identity of the seller of the book in this auction –the Hollywood Reporter subsequently ran a story which stated "Comicconnect is selling it for the current owner, which is still believed to be Cage." When I questioned Hollywood Reporter writer Andy Lewis on this point, he stood by his story.
There has long been quite a mystique built up around high grade copies of Action Comics #1 — and for reasons beyond the simple fact that they are among the most valuable comics on the planet. This Cage copy had been missing for a decade. The infamous Edgar Church copy, part of a treasure trove of high grade comics purchased in 1977 by Mile High Comics owner Chuck Rozanski, has been sitting ungraded and virtually unseen in the hands of a private collector for decades. No decent scan or photo of the Church copy — widely considered the most valuable comic in existence — has ever been made public on the internet, though the few knowledgeable individuals who have seen it claim it is undoubtedly the best copy known to exist.
But the 9.0 designation makes the Cage copy the highest-condition copy certified by CGC. The comic, featuring the first appearance of Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and published by DC Comics, is widely considered the most important American comic book ever released.