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The Top 5 Most Valuable Comic Books on Earth

1. Mile High/Edgar Church Copy of Action #1

The best copy of the first appearance of Superman, the single most important American comic, wins this particular horse race. This was the easiest book on the list to position (although #2 is a virtual tie in that regard.)
A truly legendary comic, speculation about the value and (more recently) condition of this book has been a favorite topic of conversation for hard core (and even some not so hard core) collectors for more than 20 years. The current owner, (hereby referred to as "The Dentist"), famously overpaid for this book in 1984, spending an unimaginable $25,000 on it. At the time, people openly questioned his sanity. Fortune favors the bold apparently, as that $25,000 investment is now worth a lot more. There is a popular anecdote that "The Dentist" turned down a $2,000,000 offer from coin dealer Jay Parrino when Parrino was exploring the comics hobby. That was 15 years ago. In all the years since we've only had two comics sell for more than that and this copy is better and more historic than either of those (although both are also on this list.) This book is now worth hundreds of times what he paid in 1984.
Speculation about the book's condition is also a popular topic in today's condition-conscious,CGC world. The best estimate of its condition are anecdotal.  Stephen Fischler from Metropolis Comics and Steve Borock from CBCS have both seen it and have provided grade estimates. Fischler, certainly someone in position to know having owned and sold more Action #1s than anyone in the hobby (including multiple copies on this list), says that the book would be an Unrestored 9.2 (on CGC's ten point scale) if it were in a CGC holder. Steve Borock, former grand poo-bah at CGC and founder at CBCS, says it would be a 9.4. Until we see a photo or a high resolution scan, or CGC gets their hands on it down in Sarasota, that estimation is as good as we're going to get.
Of course, regardless of the number attached to the book, it's generally agreed that this is the best copy and if that's truly the case the technical grade is practically irrelevant. It's the best copy of the best book from the best pedigree and it's in the best collection on the planet.
It wins.
Estimated Value: $7,000,000

2. Allentown Copy of Detective Comics #27

If the Church Action #1 is the #1 book in the hobby, then this book is #1a. The best copy of the first appearance of Batman is another book owned by "The Dentist" and it's another book for the speculation files in terms of grade. Called NM/MT when it was sold 15 years ago, this book is generally accepted to be the best copy, and unlike the Mile High Action #1 this book is supposed to be the best by a pretty wide margin. I've always assumed it was at least a 9.4, but judging by some of the other books from the Allentown collection images of a 9.6 Detective Comics #27 dance through my head from time to time.
If you're thinking "Does this guy really daydream about million dollar comics?"
The answer is, "On occasion, yes."
To be honest, I'd pay $50 for a high res photo or a scan of this book.
Estimated Value: $6,000,000

3. Action Comics CGC 9.0 White Pages

action-1-cgc-9This book was purchased from the original owner by Joe Mannarino from All Star Auctions in the late 1970s. It sold to an unknown collector and sat in his collection for another 30 years until it came up for private sale in 2011. At the time, the book was graded at 8.0 by CGC. It sold to Darren Adams of Pristine Comics for somewhere north of $1,000,000. Somewhere in the intervening 3 years the book was regraded at least twice- once to 8.5 and then again at 9.0. The book, tied for highest graded with significantly better preservation, was listed on eBay (of all places) selling to Metropolis Comics for a whopping $3,207,852.00
Estimated Value:$3,500,000

4. "Nic Cage" Action Comics CGC 9.0

Action Comics #1 CGC 9.0What a strange history this book has had. It was sold, with Metropolis presumably waving the paddle, to actor Nic Cage at Sothebys in 1992 for 82,500 dollars. At the time the book was graded at a 74 by the Sothebys grading committee. Cage held onto the book in his world class comic collection until, one day in 2000 the book, along with two others, was stolen from his house. Fast forward to the year 2011. Several comics had sold for huge sums. Pent up demand had been sated with a series of big ticket sales, including a succession of golden age keys that had run the comic book sales record quickly from $1,000,000 to $1,075,000 to $1,500,000.
Then the Cage copy resurfaced.
The book was subsequently graded by CGC at 9.0 (with Cream to Off-White pages) and was listed with Comic Connect, selling at their November 30, 2011 auction for $2,161,000. A record at the time.
Estimated Value:$3,000,000

5. The "other" high grade copy of Detective Comics #27

I've had this book pretty definitively quoted as being a 9.*. Interestingly, it was listed as only a FN68 in the 24th edition of the Overstreet Price Guide. I'd love to know why there's such a discrepancy. Still, the people I've talked to about it say it's an extremely nice book and would be the highest graded and best available if it were to come up for sale.
In that same guide it was listed as having sold twice in a year- once for $81,000 then again for $101,000. The latter figure, I believe, makes this the first documented member of the $100,000 Club.
I say "documented", because John Verzyl told me that he spent over $100,000 for the Church Marvel Comics #1 when he purchased it in the 80s (!)
I've placed this book here, tied in value with the Cage copy of Action #1. This assumes it's a 9.0 copy. If this book were a 9.2 or better I might be tempted to push it up to as far as 3rd, alone.
Estimated Value:$3,000,000