It cost just $.10 when it was purchased at a West Virginia newsstand in 1938. On Sunday night, an original copy of Superman's comic book debut sold online for $3.2 million.
The sale of the pristine-condition copy of Action Comics No. 1 marks the new record for the highest price ever paid for a comic book, beating out the previous record-holder, another copy of Action Comics No. 1 that sold for $2.16 million in 2011.
Pristine Comics' Darren Adams, who conducted the sale on eBay, described the remarkable provenance that led to the book's remaining in such excellent condition.
"This book is like a museum piece," Adams told the Washington Post. "It's a freak-of-nature work."
Adams said the comic book was stored under ideal conditions in a cedar chest by its original purchaser at "a high altitude" for four decades. When he died, the copy was purchased by a collector from his estate, and it has passed through several owners before making its way to Adams.
"It wasn't just a copy of Action Comics No. 1. It was the copy," he said, recalling the moment he saw the comic book in a bank vault. "I was floored. The emotion was overwhelming."
While around 200,000 copies of the original were sold, only around 100 survive today, most of which have undergone restoration work. This copy received a 9.0 on the Certified Guaranty Company rating scale, the highest of any of the known unrestored copies of Action Comics No. 1 in existence.
Adams paid seven figures for it, and began the bidding at just $.99. But he won't pocket all of the profits: Adams and eBay will donate 1 percent of the sale, over $32,000 to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, named for the famed Superman portrayer who was paralyzed in a riding accident.