The 2003-2004 Upper Deck Patch Rookie Parallel card sold Sunday at Goldin Auctions. Lob.com CEO Leore Avidar purchased the pricy cardboard keepsake. The sale represents the most-expensive purchase in history for a basketball card.
James' rookie card sale also set a record for the priciest card produced in 1980 or later. The card features a cut-off piece of James' Cleveland Cavaliers jersey and his autograph.
"If we were talking about a T206 [Honus] Wagner, or a 1952 [Mickey] Mantle, it probably wouldn't be that much news," Goldin Auctions founder Ken Goldin told ESPN.
"But when you're talking about a card that was literally produced 17 years ago and is for a guy still playing in the NBA, it's just shocking news to a lot of people."
The Patch Rookie Parallel set produced the same number of cards as the players' jersey number, which means 23 of the James rookie card were produced. Just two of the cards received a 9.5 mint gem rating by Beckett grading service. One was the card sold at the auction and the other remains in private hands.
"Guess who else has a couple of those exact ones too," James wrote Sunday on Instagram.
James, 35, averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds during his rookie campaign in Cleveland. He was the youngest Rookie of the Year in league history (19).