Marker-Altered Michael Jordan Card Sells For $23,000 On eBay Due To Beckett’s Blunder

A mislabeled Michael Jordan card that sold for tens of thousands of dollars on eBay has stirred controversy within the collecting community. What was thought to be a 1997 SkyBox Metal Universe Michael Jordan Red Precious Metal Gems graded as altered by Beckett, turned out to just be a base card that had parts of the card colored over with red marker — and it ended up selling for $23,123 on eBay.

Fake Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems card authenticated by Beckett
Fake Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems card authenticated by Beckett. (credit: eBay)

Because of the scarcity of Jordan Precious Metal Gems cards, they usually sell in the hundreds of thousands. On June 1, a 1997 SkyBox Metal Universe Michael Jordan Red Precious Metal Gems netted $298,000 at Goldin. That card was graded a BGS 8.

Serious questions arose over the card on social media. Even though Beckett graded the MJ card as altered and slabbed it as a 1997 Metal Universe Red Precious Metal Gems, it wasn’t numbered to /100 on the back as is standard with those cards. That year, Precious Metal Gems had two colors — green for the first ten cards out of /100 and red for the other 90 cards.

The eBay description lot from seller em-372345 reads, “The Metal Universe set is arguably one of the most important sets of the 1990s! Featuring unique artwork and etched foil, the PMG (Precious Metal Gems) is a rare parallel limited to 100 copies (first 10 being Green, 90 being Red), and they were virtually impossible to find! This particular card was recently graded for the first time (March 2024) after being in storage for 15+ years! It is even more unique  in that it is missing text/foil/serial number; Initially believed it to be a prototype/test card or simply an error, it has been graded by BGS (Beckett Grading Services) as Authentic Altered and has been encapsulated to preserve its condition. This very special Jordan is a ‘must have’ for serious Jordan collectors and is now available for bidding and offers via eBay!”

After the card was sold for over $23,000, the card ended up passing inspection at eBay Authenticity Guarantee, but here’s the catch. EBay was only guaranteeing that the slab and label are real and that it matched the population report. The company was not guaranteeing that the card within the slab is actually real, so it passed eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee.

With questions swirling, Ben — the collector who bought the card — had Beckett and eBay take another look at the MJ card. That’s when Beckett realized it was a fake.

“In fact, it was a base Michael Jordan card from Metal Universe, which is infinitely less valuable, that somebody had taken a red marker and just run the red marker over the top of the card and Beckett slabbed it as a Precious Metal Gems altered card. A massive mistake,” says Geoff Wilson, of Sports Card Investor, in the latest Cards on the Table video.

With Beckett admitting its mistake, eBay ended up refunding Ben what he paid for the card, but the company also gave the seller $23,123 despite selling a fake card.

In a series of videos posted on YouTube called Fake PMG Saga, Ben revealed he was shocked that eBay was paying the seller as well.

“Due to eBay’s policy, if the card has a no return policy from the seller… and it passed eBay’s authentication, then there is basically nothing we can do,” Ben says in the video. “Basically, eBay is saying there is no return, the seller will always net the amount the card was sold for.”

Now, it’s not known if seller em-372345 knew the MJ card they submitted to Beckett as a Precious Metal Gems was fake, but they currently do not have any other items available on eBay.

Beckett has reslabbed the card to reveal that it’s just a base 1997 SkyBox Metal Universe Michael Jordan card that was altered. It has been taken out of Beckett’s population report and eBay is holding the card so it doesn’t go back into circulation.

“EBay took it on the chin. EBay refunded the money. EBay did make it right. That’s good on eBay,” says Wilson. “It does leave a lot of open questions about this in the future.”

Despite what happened, Ben still has a positive outlook about the collecting community.

“The hobby is in a really, really good place,” notes Ben. “I do believe that most of us want the hobby to be a better place.”

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