Near-Mint Copy Of 'Batman #1' Comic Book From 1940 Sells for $2.2M, Shatters Previous Sales Record
When the Dark Knight first-appeared on the scene in Detective Comics #27 in 1939, there's no way the creator Bill Finger(ok and I guess Bob Kane technically) would've had any idea the character would still be shaping pop culture over the next EIGHT decades.
Sorry for the snarkiness about Kane. There's just too much evidence out there that he absolutely stole the spotlight from the genius Bill Finger, who didn't get a real nod of credit until Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice in the credits.
Ok back to it. Sorry.
A year later in 1940 for the whopping price of $.10, Batman #1 was released. The iconic yellow cover featuring The Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder hit the scene and the world of comics have never been the same. Between Action Comics #1 and the aforementioned first two appearances of Batman, these books defined the Golden Age of superhero comics. Here we are in 2021, and an issue of Batman #1 that was owned by the same collector from 1979 until 2019 just took the spot of the most valuable Batman comic ever publicly sold. Billy T. Gates, an avid collector from Houston, Texas paid $3,000 for it over 40yrs ago. Sadly, Mr. Gates passed in 2019 and passed it down to his son. The previous record was held by a copy of TEC 27(shorthand for Detective Comics #27) that sold for $1.5m.
This particular book was graded by Certified Guaranty Company, who is considered the gold standard for comic book appraisal and encapsulation. The photo you see here is the actual scan of the book sold by Heritage Auctions. For those in-the-know with comic book grading, finding ANY book from this era in a 9.4(10 is the highest possible and that grade basically doesn't exist) with White Pages is something out of a fairy tale, beyond any episode of American Pickers or Pawn Stars.
There is no match for this book, as far as anyone in the comic world is concerned. It is by far already one of the most valuable and desirable books in existence and this is the first time Heritage Auctions ever put up a key issue of this magnitude at auction. This book now joins the elite $2M Club, which actor Nicolas Cage was the start of back in 2011 when a copy of Action Comics #1 went for over $2M back in 2011.
From the Heritage Auctions description:
"This stunning copy has taken over as the sole highest-graded copy on CGC's census report.
The first appearance of the Joker and Catwoman, this is one of the top five comic issues in the hobby. And this is the first time in the CGC era that a Near Mint copy of one of the top five Golden Age key issues has been sold at public auction. It is being sold without reserve.
Most collectors' first question will be: how legit is the grade? Well, few key issues are as easy to judge as a Batman #1, because the cover design ruthlessly exposes any flaw. The front cover "kills" most copies right away, being predominantly yellow and thus prone to smudging or dust shadows, while the back cover is the same with large white areas in addition to the yellow ones. Is it even possible to have a copy with no such smudges or dirt on the front or the back? We think our photos here show that it is, and it's a test even some pretty darn nice copies have failed. By all means scrutinize the images we present here, and we think you will come away agreeing that this is a Near Mint book.
As for the significance: the Joker's first appearance alone would make this one of the most important comics ever -- if there were ever a poll to determine the greatest villain in the history of comics we don't doubt the Joker would win, perhaps even by a landslide. The fact that the character has now been the star of a solo movie only further solidifies that standing.
The Catwoman (called the Cat in her first appearance here) is of course a household name in her own right, also star of a solo movie and in the conversation for the best female villain ever, if she's not number one.
The historical significance of this first issue doesn't end with the first appearances. It's worth noting that as of Spring 1940 most comic books were like the Sunday funnies, in that each issue contained with a mix of different features, with any one feature expected to hold the reader's attention for just a few pages. Batman had been appearing in Detective Comics for about a year when he got this additional series entirely devoted to him. For a character created for the comic books to make the jump to a solo series was rare -- only a few had done it, and at DC, Superman was the only previous one to do it.
Batman certainly made the gamble pay off -- the title not only survived when most superhero books went under about 10 years later, the series is still in publication in the present day, a couple of gimmicky numbering restarts notwithstanding.
Oh, and we haven't even mentioned the classic cover by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, which is merely one of the most famous in history, or the fact that this was one of Robin's earliest appearances.
Even if you are fortunate enough to own a Batman #1, we are confident in saying this copy would be an upgrade for you no matter what. And if you seek to join the club of Batman #1 owners for the first time, what better place to start than at the very top?
Overstreet 2020 NM- 9.2 value = $860,000. CGC census 1/21: 1 in 9.4, none higher."
Being an avid comic collector myself with nearly 5,000 books in my collection and quite a few CGC 9.8 copies of Bronze and Modern books, I'm pretty sure my entire library of comics isn't worth 1/10 of what this bad boy sold for. It's a sight to behold. I've held a CGC-graded Detective Comics #27 in my hands while wearing white gloves and still felt nervous. I can't imagine what it was like hauling this thing around.
The highest-grossing comic ever sold was an Action Comics #1 which went for a jaw-dropping $3.2M back in 2014 on eBay of all places.
Paul Brown is the founder of Kulture Popped and would do unspeakable acts outlawed in many countries to own a copy of Batman #1. Feel free to DM him on Instagram at @pb609 for any and all proposals, indecent or otherwise.