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Case of unopened hockey cards that may include Wayne Gretzky's first goes for $3.7M

The case of nearly 11,000 assorted player cards is estimated to include possibly two dozen marking Gretzky's debut for the Edmonton Oilers, Heritage Auctions said.
hockey player missing teeth uniform
Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers shouts after having scored his fourth goal in the NHL All Star Game at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., in 1983.Ray Stubblebine / AP file

A sealed carton of hockey player cards that may contain Wayne Gretzky's rookie card fetched $3.7 million at auction, Heritage Auctions said Monday.

The bidder, whose name was not given, will get an unopened cardboard box filled with 48 packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey cards from the 1979-80 season, it said. Among its 10,752 cards — "made in and stayed in Canada" — could be those coveted Gretzky rookie cards.

"An unknown number ... maybe two dozen, give or take — feature the Great One’s first skate as an Edmonton Oiler," Heritage Auctions said in a statement.

The box, which had been stashed away in a Saskatchewan basement for several years, inspired global headlines last month when its existence was revealed, the Dallas-based auction house said.

"Our consignor wasn't aware he owned this outrageous Holy Grail case until very recent accounting of a long-forgotten pile of boxes in his home in Saskatchewan, where deadstock cards from the late 1970s and early 1980s had been gathering dust since he had bought them directly from a wholesaler," Heritage said in a previous statement.

A company spokesperson told The Associated Press that he doesn’t expect the winning bidder will open the boxes, as they are rarer than the rookie cards.

Gretzky, 63, a native of Brantford, Ontario, started his pro career in earnest for the Edmonton Oilers in the '79-80 season after his 1978 debut for the Indianapolis Racers was cut short because the team folded.

It sold his contract to Edmonton, where the future Great One would help the team win four Stanley Cups.

His career stats back up any greatest-of-all-time claims: Gretzky scored 50 goals in 39 games and had three consecutive seasons with more than 200 points in the mid-1980s, and he holds the record for most career points, at 2,857.