An Edmonton Oilers jersey worn by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky sold at an auction Saturday for a record-breaking $1.45 million US.
Gretzky wore the jersey during the Oilers’ 1988 Stanley Cup Final win over the Boston Bruins, less than three months before No. 99 was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a move that shook Edmonton and the hockey world.
“We’ve got champagne stains on it from the celebration in the locker-room,” Michael Russek, director of operations at Gray Flannel Auctions in Scottsdale, Ariz., told CBC’s Edmonton AM on Wednesday.
6:25Wayne Gretzky’s last Oilers jersey sells at auction
The jersey, with 99 on the sleeves and a C on the chest denoting Gretzky’s captaincy, also has repair marks.
Gretzky wore it multiple times during the ’87-’88 season, Russek said. Today’s NHL players change jerseys more frequently.
The sale dethrones Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series jersey that held the previous record for being the most expensive hockey jersey ever sold for $1.2 million.
Henderson was wearing the jersey when he scored the winning goal against the Soviets. His jersey was sold at auction in Montreal in 2012.
Besides the jersey, the Jofa gloves Gretzky wore for the last time as an Oiler sold for $204,000 US.
Russek said the jersey had been privately held since the 1990s after being one of 1,000 jerseys let go by the team.
A client friend of Russek happened to be the second owner of the garment, and was ready to part with it.
“We were very excited to handle this piece, obviously,” Russek said.
With the NHL playoffs currently happening and with the Oilers having had a solid post-season run before being knocked out by the Colorado Avalanche, Russek said the timing was perfect.
“Our market for these game-used uniforms is so strong at the moment,” he said. “We have record prices across the board.”
People who were young during the Oilers’ early glory days have now matured and have money to spend.
“This isn’t something that is too old that none of us remember watching on TV. It’s not ultra-modern where, you know, these guys are going to keep their memorabilia or it’s going to come out in abundance.
“It’s really the sweet spot of collecting at the moment,” he said.
The person who bought the Gretzky jersey wishes to be anonymous, Russek said.