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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/27/2023

At the turn of the 21st century, when Upper Deck ruled the modern hobby with all “Big Four” pro sports leagues licenses, the card company pioneered the release of a nostalgia product across multiple sports called 1999 Century Legends that combined hardball, roundball and gridiron legends with contemporary superstars. The short-printed Epic Signatures subset (32 players) featured the most coveted chase cards, especially within basketball. All-time greats such as Bill Russell, Cousy, The Logo, Kareem and Dr. J autographed cards, hand-numbered to 100, packed out as special case hits in limited hobby boxes. This was followed by 1999-2000 Retro Inkredible (48 players) with a similar caliber of signed cards, either hand-numbered or unnumbered as super short prints.

Ultimate Collection, first released in 2000-01, was UD’s flagship high-end product [before Exquisite] and it continued the trend of mixing vintage and modern players. The 2008-09 Ultimate Collection Basketball release, looking to expand upon its impressive list of all-time greats, added Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to its Century Legends Epic Signatures Update subset. Today, these GOATS are easily the two most sought-after autographed cards in the 36-player checklist. For whatever reason (perhaps to avoid high-value redemptions) UD did not hand/serial-number them, creating a mystique among collectors about the quantity in circulation. A credible source with direct knowledge of this set's distribution (part of UD's product/design team at the time) has opined that likely 25 or fewer packed out. Beckett’s population report has a grand total of twelve LeBrons and just ten Kobes, with none higher than this Gem Mint 9.5 and 10 auto. In the PSA pop, only two Kobes and three LeBrons in any grade show up. (SGC has not encapsulated any Kobe or LeBron cards from this set according to its pop report.)

This nearly flawless Kobe card has three 9.5 subgrades, with only the corners rated lower at 9. His signature in silver marker has been graded a perfect 10 by Beckett. (It has not faded at all; the silver color just blends a bit with the clear label and white background.) The fact that Kobe’s autograph is on a sticker label may also explain Upper Deck’s decision to keep these cards unnumbered. Since his contract was up with UDA in 2009, and he was in the process of signing an exclusive with Panini Authentic during the pack-out period of this set, on-card autographs would have led to redemptions that would have been impossible to fulfill.

Both short-printed LeBron and Kobe cards from this elusive set are listed in this auction. (Our consignor owns near-complete sets of both the 1999 and 2008 Century Legends autographed sets to back these two.) With so few public sales to speak of, this remains one of the rarest and more mysterious Kobe cards in the hobby. Speculation about how many ungraded examples are out there will continue to leave collectors wondering. If the sparse supply in the three pop reports is any indication, though, our expert's prediction of 25 or fewer seems accurate. After nearly 15 years, only twelve Kobes have been authenticated and slabbed.

2008-09 UD Ultimate Collection Century Legends Epic Sigs #CLKB Kobe Bryant (Only 11 Others Known to Exist! – BGS GEM MT 9.5 w/ 10 Auto. (Highest Graded in All Pop Reports!)
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $3,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $7,721
Number Bids:9
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