A weeklong auction of memorabilia from 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell’s collection culminated Friday in a live event at TD Garden in Boston.
The two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee put up 429 lots for bid in all, including two of his NBA championship rings — the first and last — and the Celtics jersey he wore for his final NBA game.
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“There’s no question this is one of the most significant athlete collections ever to come up for auction,” said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions, who has also worked on collections from Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Roberto Clemente.
“We’ve been very fortunate to work with some of the icons in sports. There’s no question Bill is in that group,” Hunt added.
How much did Bill Russell’s memorabilia auction net?
Overall, according to The Associated Press, the top 18 items at the auction went for over $5.3 million.
The highest-selling item was the jersey Russell wore in his final NBA game, the 1969 Finals clincher that earned him and the Celtics their 11th championship in a span of 13 years.
The 87-year-old NBA legend has pledged some of the proceeds from the auction to MENTOR, which connects young people with advisers who can provide them with opportunities they might otherwise miss out on, and to Boston Celtics United for Social Justice, which fights racial injustice and social inequities in the greater Boston area.
|Final NBA jersey||More than $1.1 million|
|1st NBA ring||$705,000|
|1956 Olympic gold medal||$587,500|
|5 NBA MVP trophies||More than $1.3 million combined|
Earlier in the week, young NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley expressed their interest in bidding on items, considering what was on sale.
“I’d like to take some of that stuff off their hands,” O’Neal said Tuesday on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” show. “To be able to have all 11 of those rings, nobody’s outbidding me on that one.”
“What he’s done for civil rights in this country is unmatched,” Barkley said on the broadcast. “Him and (Muhammad) Ali will always be my heroes as far as that goes. It’s easy to be a social justice guy now when you’ve got $100 million, you’re making $30-40 million a year, but those guys did all the heavy lifting back in the day. I think I might look at that auction and bid on something.”
One of the items related to Russell’s civil rights activity was a page from his scrapbook. It included a signed letter from the late Jackie Robinson and went for $94,000 in the auction.