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Comic Book Collection Nets $3.5 Million at Auction
February 23, 2012

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A man's decision to keep comic books from his childhood turned into a multi-million-dollar payday for the man's descendants.

Michael Rorrer discovered that his great-uncle, Billy Wright, had a collection of quite rare and valuable comic books, including the first appearance of Superman and 43 other of the top 100 every published, according to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. The collection of 345 comics sold for a combined $3.5 million.

The highest amount paid was for Detective Comics No. 27, a comic that featured the debut of Batman. It sold for 10 cents in 1939. At the New York auction put on by Heritage Auctions, the buyer paid $523,000.

Action Comics No. 1, published in 1938, featured a then-new superhero called Superman who wore a cape, had a big S and his chest, and could fly. This comic brought in $299,000. Experts think that only about 100 copies of the comic still exist. (Of the 200,000 copies printed, the number sold was 130,000; the unprinted copies were recycled, and most of the sold copies have been similarly disposed in the decades since.)

Batman No. 1, from 1940, went for a high price as well. One buyer paid $275,000 for that. Another well-known comic from 1941, Captain America No. 2 (known for its depiction of a fearful Hitler on the cover), brought in $114,000.

Wright died in 1994 in Martinsville, Va. He was 66. He collected comic books when he was young, and he kept them in pristine condition. Rorrer, of Oxnard, Calif., found the comics while cleaning out his great-uncle's house.
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