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Posted at 7:25 PM ET, 02/22/2010

Call the Daily Planet! Superman comic book sells for record $1M [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna

[Note: This post from Monday afternoon has been updated.]

supermanbook.jpg "This sale is groundbreaking," says a comics dealer who helped conduct the transaction. ( / AP)

It's a story worthy of a banner headline in the Daily Planet.

The Holy Grail of comic books -- yes, fellow fans, the hallowed edition of Action Comics No. 1 that hit the stands in 1938 for 10 cents -- has sold million. dollars.

This rare issue -- widely known as the first comic book to feature Superman -- is changing hands between private seller and buyer. And both their identities are being shielded from the public. (Yes -- how fitting is that?)

But we do know: The reaction of the buyer upon beholding the book was: It looks as if it were printed yesterday, says Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner and COO of the site and its sister dealership, Metropolis Collectibles, which conducted the sale.

"The person who bought it is an avid Superman fan and was extremely excited to get it," Zurzolo tells Comic Riffs by phone from New York.

He says that the customer who sold the copy Monday is a New Yorker and is the same person Metropolis sold the copy to 15 years ago. "He has a very deep collection," the owner says.

Zurzolo says the buyer previously purchased an Action Comics No. 1 and "wanted a higher-grade copy." The million-dollar copy is said to be an "8.0" edition, using the 10-point scale created by Zurzolo's Metropolis co-owner, Stephen Fishler -- the "second-highest graded copy known to exist," Zurzolo says.

"It's phenomenally beautiful," says Zurzolo, 38. "I've been in this business for over 20 years [he began selling professionally at age 16], and when I had my hands on this book [recently] for the first time, it was like holding the Holy Grail. ... The brightest tones of white are [amazing] and the spine is gorgeous."

The sale price is nearly three times the previous record for a comic book, comics sellers say.

"This sale is groundbreaking," Zurzolo says to Comic Riffs. "It changes the game for comic-investment collectibles. ... As a collectible and an investment, comic books have trailed behind other categories. This sale is putting us into a similar playing field as even rare gemstones and antiques."

On the ComicConnect site, Fishler touts: "They said it couldn't be done. They said that no comic book--no matter how rare--would ever sell for $1,000,000. This week, they were proven wrong. And in the midst of a recession, no less!"

Zurzolo wouldn't reveal what Metropolis's cut on such a record-shattering sale is, saying only: "Everybody's happy."

It's believed only about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 exist. "The opportunity to buy an un-restored, high-grade Action One comes along once every two decades," Fishler said. "It's certainly a milestone."

"It is still a little stunning to see 'a comic book' and '$1 million' in the same sentence," Fishler told the Associated Press. "There's only one time a collectible hits the $1-million threshold."

Yet, Zurzolo says, "you never know. This really changes the game."

By Michael Cavna  | February 22, 2010; 7:25 PM ET
Categories:  Superheroes, The Comic Book  | Tags:  Action Comics No. 1, Stephen Fishler, Superman comic book, Vincent Zurzolo, record auction  
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This is just absolutely nuts.

Posted by: Mrhode | February 22, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

And since it's slabbed, the buyer hasn't even seen the inside of it - and may never open it!

Posted by: Mrhode | February 22, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse $999,997 dollars and you can buy a REPRINT of that first issue at LOL

Posted by: ComicBooker | February 22, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Given the anonymous nature of both the seller and the buyer (and the not entirely authentic sounding auction price of an even million), I wonder whether this sale was rigged as a publicity stunt. There's no way to verify that any money actually changed hands.

Posted by: kilby | February 23, 2010 3:48 AM | Report abuse

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