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Fanatics Looks to ‘Redefine the Trading Card Industry’ with Sotheby’s Partnership, New Collectibles Marketplace

The new Fanatics Collect division will go live this summer in line with its partnership with Sotheby's.
Image courtesy Fanatics

Sports fan platform Fanatics has further solidified its presence in the world of collectibles through a new partnership with elite auction house Sotheby’s that the partners say will “redefine the trading card industry.”

While Fanatics’ core business is focused on sports-related fan merchandise, the retailer made its first big move into the world of collectibles when it acquired trading card brand Topps in January 2022. Now Fanatics and Sotheby’s are teaming up to offer collectors access to the rarest trading cards in the world, valued at $100,000 and above.

The Sotheby’s partnership coincides with the announcement of Fanatics Collect, the company’s new collectibles marketplace, which will launch later this summer to connect buyers and sellers of trading cards and memorabilia through fixed-priced listings and auctions. Fanatics Collect will replace the company’s PWCC auction and marketplace platform, with all PWCC functions, including vaulting and authentication, moving under the Fanatics Collect umbrella.

The 1948 Leaf #79 Jackie Robinson card (PSA 8) that will be auctioned in September by Fanatics and Sotheby's.
The 1948 Leaf #79 Jackie Robinson card that will be auctioned in September by Fanatics and Sotheby’s. (Image courtesy Fanatics)

Fanatics Collect and Sotheby’s will showcase a curated selection of top-of-the-market trading cards through a series of live and online auctions hosted by Sotheby’s, beginning with a live auction this September in New York that will include a 1948 Leaf #79 Jackie Robinson card (PSA 8) estimated to be worth $275,000 to $350,000. A second online auction is planned for December, with additional details on that sale to be released in the coming weeks.

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“This unique partnership is a reflection of the elevated status and cultural impact of the hobby and gives these highly sought-after cards incredible reach and visibility to potential collectors around the world,” said Fanatics Collect CEO Nick Bell in a statement. “We’re truly excited to be able to pair our knowledge in high-end sports cards with Sotheby’s unrivaled expertise in storytelling across exceptional fine art and objects.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Fanatics Collect to pioneer the evolution of the trading card market to new heights,” said Brahm Wachter, Head of Modern Collectibles at Sotheby’s in a statement. “Through high-end auctions, state-of-the-art exhibitions and exhilarating events, this collaboration marks a significant milestone within the ever-growing and engaged trading card community. We eagerly anticipate ushering promising collectors into an exciting new era of innovation and accessibility.”

With the new Fanatics Collect division, the company hopes to become “the most trusted and dynamic marketplace” for collectibles at all price points, according to a Fanatics statement. The platform will launch with a reimagined fixed-price marketplace experience, in addition to weekly and monthly auctions. Later this year, Fanatics Collect also will introduce a range of new updates, including peer-to-peer trading, AI-powered concierge services, card scanning and digital collectibles.

The announcements come ahead of the first-ever Fanatics Fest NYC, which will be held at the Javits Center Aug. 16-18, 2024 and feature celebrity appearances, collectible-themed livestreams, a retail “superstore” selling sports-themed merchandise, exclusive apparel collaborations with top brands and trading card drops from Topps.

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