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Ultra rare 1979 hockey cards found in Regina basement sell for millions

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A case containing boxes of 1979 O-Pee-Chee (OPC) hockey cards found in a Regina basement and put up for auction online has received a closing bid of more than $5 million or $3.72 million USD.

The 16 boxes' value rose into the millions because of the strong statistical probability of containing as many as 20 pristine condition Wayne Gretzky rookie cards from the 1978-79 season when he was a member of the then World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Edmonton Oilers.

In total, each box contains 48 packs of 10 cards – an overall total of 7,680 cards from the 1979-1980 OPC set. The set contains images of players from the previous season (1978-79), Gretzky’s first as a pro.

In a description for the lot, Heritage Auctions said that no other unopened case of 1979 OPC has ever been found in the 21st century and that it was hard to believe another one ever will.

The owner selling the cards wished to remain anonymous, but according to Steve Hart, the man who authenticated the find at his store Baseball Card Exchange in Indiana, the family assumed the value of the case was worth much less than the final bid it received because of dating stamped on the outside.

“The family who have had this case for 40 some years, always assumed this was a 1980 case of hockey [cards], Hart said. “That’s not so bad [worth] $300,000 to $350,000, but one day someone finally asked them, ‘You might want to check and see what’s exactly in there,’” Hart said.

According to Hart, the family that owned the case discovered the gold mine they were sitting on when they pulled back a small amount of the outside case and saw the boxes that were sealed inside.

Heritage Auctions said the find was a thrilling miracle of survival and one of the greatest trading card lots they have ever had the privilege to offer.

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