Spider-Man’s debut appearance is now the most world’s most valuable comic book.
The finest-known copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $3.6 million at Heritage Auctions during the third session of its Sept. 8-12 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction. Graded CGC Near Mint+ 9.6, the 1962 Marvel comic is one of only four copies ever to receive such a high grade, and there is not a single known copy in better condition.
The auction itself brought in a world-record $26.5 million, thanks to Spider-Man, Jack Kirby art and a Charlie Brown Christmas strip, which helped smash the previous high auction watermark of $22.4 million set in June.
“What better book to break the record than the debut of Marvel’s most beloved character, Spider-Man?” says Heritage Auctions Vice President Lon Allen. “Amazing Fantasy #15 is the Action Comics No. 1 or Detective Comics No. 27 of the next generation. I’m honored to have been a part of the most important comic book sale to date. In my 20 years at Heritage, to bring the most expensive book to market has been the pinnacle of my career.”
Spider-Man leaps over the world record previously held by Superman. A copy of Action Comics No. 1, featuring the first appearance of the Man of Steel, sold privately for $3.25 million earlier this year.
The previously most expensive copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 was the CGC Near Mint 9.4-graded copy Heritage sold in March 2020 for $795,000.
Other records were set throughout the signature auction, beginning on September 8, when at the sale’s outset Jack Kirby’s Dr. Doom-struck cover art for 1969’s Fantastic Four #86 sold for $480,000 – the highest price ever paid at auction for an original work by comicdom’s most influential creator. On September 10 came one more Christmas miracle, when Charles Schulz’s Dec. 18, 1966, Peanuts strip, sold for $360,000, the most ever paid at auction for an original Charlie Brown.
By the time the auction closed on September 12, more than 6,400 bidders worldwide had participated in the near-sell-out event.
Spidey’s record-shattering debut, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, was among the 161 books offered in this auction from The #1 Amazing Spider-Man Registry Set Collection, which, according to the Certified Guaranty Company Comics Registry, features one of the most amazing Amazing Spider-Man comics in existence. That includes a CGC NM 9.4-graded copy of 1963’s The Amazing Spider-Man #1, which sold on September 9 for $264,000.
That sale bests the previous world record for that book set in November 2016, when a CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 copy sold at Heritage Auctions for $262,900.
Heritage’s previous comic-book record was set just last January, when the only known Batman #1 graded CGC Near Mint 9.4 sold for $2.22 million. That book shattered the previous $1.5-million world record set for a Batman title in November 2020, when Heritage sold a copy of 1939’s Detective Comics #27 for $1.5 million. At the time, that was the highest price ever realized for any Batman comic book.
Previously, the title of most expensive comic book sold at Heritage belonged to the CGC 9.4 copy of Marvel Comics #1 that sold in November 2019 for $1.26 million.
That Amazing Fantasy #15 is now the world’s most expensive comic book should not surprise. Spider-Man is certainly at the center of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe; the recently released trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home is the most-viewed video on YouTube over a 24-hour span. But he was beloved and significant long before he ever took a swing across the big screen.
As his longtime artist John Romita wrote in Fantastic Firsts, Amazing Fantasy #15 “was obviously different in every way, and comics have never been the same since.” In Lee and Ditko’s story, the embittered, selfish wallflower is bitten by that radioactive spider, climbs on walls and into the wrestling ring, then bears the responsibility when his beloved Uncle Ben is killed as a result of his willful inaction.
“About a decade ago, the record sale price for a comic book was $317,000, and the biggest comics auction was $5 million. Look how far we’ve come,” says Heritage Auctions Vice President Barry Sandoval. “In last week’s sale, we had 500 different lots sell for at least $10,000 each – and 68 of those hit $50,000 or more. My favorite part of all this is that 26 different consignors will be receiving checks for more than $100,000 after the auction, and a couple of those will be for seven figures.”
This was such a remarkable auction that a half-million-dollar lot didn’t even garner a headline. During the opening session, a CGC Fine+ 6.5 copy of Batman #1 brought $576,000, the highest price ever realized for that historic book in that grade. This has been such a record-shattering year for the Dark Knight that even a CGC Good 2.0 copy of his 1940 solo debut now sells for $222,000, a once unfathomable number.
Moments after Amazing Fantasy #15 climbed to its record high, a CGC Near Mint 9.4 copy of The Amazing Spider-Man #1 sold for $241,200. Only four years ago, the first issue of the Wall-Crawler’s solo title was selling for about half that in the same grade. Spidey, now at the center of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, appears to have become the most treasured character in comicdom.
Next year’s long-anticipated big-screen bow of Black Adam, to be played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, likely factored into the auction’s record price for 1945’s The Marvel Family #1, which blew past pre-auction estimates to sell for $186,000. But this was also a historic issue: It’s but one of two copies graded this high (CGC Near Mint 9.4), and it comes from The Promise Collection Pedigree, which contains some 5,000 Golden Age books not seen since they were bought off newsstands in the 1940s.
The auction also included this beloved rarity: a December 1987 daily Calvin and Hobbes by the beloved Bill Watterson, which realized $132,000 after some intense bidding.
This event was about far more than just impressive numbers for important comics and influential art. As Sandoval notes, there were plenty of startling results to be found throughout the five-day auction, among them the very first printing of the very first issue of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The 1970 copy of the industry’s standard-bearer, graded CGC Near Mint+ 9.6, demolished its pre-auction estimate to sell for $45,600. And an artist’s proof of Randy Bowen’s 1997 bronze statue of The Incredible Hulk, inspired by Kirby, likewise obliterated expectations to sell for $45,600.
For more results, visit Heritage Auctions.