When Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash last January, he left behind a legacy as one of the greatest stars to ever play basketball. Now, the trendsetting businessman’s personal brands will keep him relevant for decades to come. A perfect metric of Bryant’s enduring popularity is the enormous market for his memorabilia.
In late April 2020, Goldin Auctions stunned the sports world when it placed nearly 100 pieces of Bryant memorabilia up for auction. It’s the largest collection of Bryant memorabilia to ever hit the market; it also features some truly unique pieces. Let’s look at the important moments regarding Bryant’s memorabilia.
Kobe Bryant’s dispute with his parents over memorabilia
Bryant always had a somewhat rocky relationship with his own memorabilia, as best exemplified in a highly publicized incident involving his own parents, Joe and Pamela. In 2013, the Bryants attempted to auction off 100+ items from his early career. Ironically, the same auction house, Goldin Auctions, that conducted that sale is now selling off more Bryant memorabilia.
Bryant was outraged with his parents. He sued to try and stop the sale. The auction house then filed a countersuit. Shortly before the case was to go to trial, Bryant reached a settlement with the company to keep most of the items out of the auction. Less than 10% of the items went up for sale.
Among the items that did go up for sale were two of Bryant’s high school uniforms, two of his 2000 Lakers championship rings, and his 2000 All-Star ring. Bryant’s parents still came away from the auction with quite a lot of money. The incident fractured the already-rocky relationship.
Details of Bryant’s current auction
The current auction of Bryant memorabilia does not feature any items owned by Joe and Pam Bryant. Likewise, this auction is not affiliated in any way with Bryant’s widow, Vanessa. Presumably, Vanessa had no interest trying to capitalize on her husband’s legacy just three short months after he passed away.
The auction does, however, tie back to the family in a couple of ways. First of all, 5% of the auction’s proceeds will be donated to the recently founded Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. Second, the auction does feature one item that was originally put up for sale by Bryant’s parents back in 2013—namely one of Bryant’s title rings from the Lakers’ 2000 championship victory against the Indiana Pacers.
Highlights from Kobe Bryant’s auction
The current auction includes a total of 86 items. Those range the full gamut of basketball memorabilia, from sneakers, to jerseys, to warm-ups and game balls. There are also a handful of truly one-of-a-kind items, including Bryant’s 2012 Team USA Olympic Gold Medal ring. As of May 14, bidding on that ring sits at $17,000, following a $5,000 opening bid.
Another high ticket item are a pair of signed Adidas sneakers worn by Bryant in the championship-clinching Game 5 of the 2001 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Those sneakers opened with a minimum bid of $4,000, and currently have a high bid of $30,000. Meanwhile, the aforementioned 2000 NBA championship ring currently has a high bid of $151,000.
Although it certainly won’t fetch as the items mentioned above, the auction also features a signed scorer’s report from Bryant’s signature 81 point game back in 2006. That item currently has a high bid of $10,000. While that may seem like a lot, items such as those in the current auction will only increase in value as time goes on.