Nicolas Cage’s nearly-pristine copy of Action Comics no. 1 featuring the first appearance of Superman—stolen from his home in 2000 and just recovered in April in a storage locker—is poised to become the most expensive comic ever sold on the open market during an online auction now being conducted by comicconnect.com.
The auction started today and ends on Nov. 30th. After just a few hours bidding has already reached $900,000. The current record is $1.5 million for a less well-preserved copy of Action Comics no. 1 sold in March 2010.
Few comics have as interesting or complicated a back story as Cage’s copy of Action Comics no. 1. Certified Guaranty Company, the leading grader of the quality of collectible comics, recently assigned this copy a grade of 9.0, making it the best-preserved publicly-known copy of Superman’s first appearance. Approximately 100 copies of Action Comics no. 1 remain in existence. Experts believe only about five others, all in private hands, are of comparable quality to this copy. Sotheby’s sold this comic at auction in 1992 for a then-record $82,500. Cage bought it in 1997 for about $150,000.
On January 21, 2000, Cage reported the comic stolen to the Los Angeles Police, along with high-grade copies of Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics no. 27 and Marvel Mystery no. 71. According to an account Comicconnect CEO Stephen Fishler posted on a collector’s website, Cage had the books displayed in security frames mounted to the wall. The exact moment of the theft is unknown but the comics had possibly been missing for a week when Cage discovered the frames were empty. The Marvel Mystery resurfaced a few months later but the other two comics remained lost.
In April 2011, Cage’s copy of Action Comics no. 1 was recovered in a San Fernando Valley storage locker. The man who found the comic had bought the contents of an abandoned locker. Cage’s publicist released a statement from the actor at the time calling the recovery of the comic “divine providence” and expressing hope “that the heirloom will be returned to my family.” Cage had received an insurance payment for the comic but at the time expressed interest in reaching a settlement to regain ownership of the book.
Fishler would not confirm this is the Action Comics stolen from Cage but the provenance of the comic–from its sale in the early 1990s to its theft in 2000—matches the history of the Cage comic. Comicconnect is selling it for the current owner, which is still believed to be Cage. Earlier, several websites devoted to comics speculated that this is the copy of Action Comics from Cage’s collection. Representatives for Cage have not yet responded to a request from The Hollywood Reporter for comment. See a copy of the fabled Cage Action Comics no. 1 below.