When David and Deanna Gonzalez bought a fixer-upper in Elbow Lake, Minnesota, for $10,100, they never dreamed they’d find a treasure worth 10 times that amount hidden in an abandoned house.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that while demolishing a wall, David Gonzalez struck gold amid newspapers from the 1930s that had been used for insulation: a copy of 1938’s Action Comics #1, featuring the debut of Superman.
He says he knew immediately the comic was valuable, but he had no idea how much it was actually worth. He’ll know for sure in another 20 days, when an online auction ends for the CGC-graded 1.5 copy. The top bid is a $113,111; Gonzalez will receive about half of the final sale price.
Unfortunately for the father of four, that figure would be significantly higher if not for the actions of one of his in-laws. It seems his wife’s over-eager aunt snatched the comic, and when Gonzalez went to grab it, the back cover was ripped, resulting in what ComicConnect’s Stephen Fishler calls “a $75,000 tear.” Without the rip, the comic would have been graded 3.0.
Even with that extra damage, the discovery of a copy of Action Comics #1 in that condition — the auction listing says it “boasts bright, sparkling colors and sturdy off-white pages” — is almost unimaginable.
“This is like a virgin comic in this instance,” ComicConnect’s Vincent Zurzolo says. “It’s so hard for anyone to fathom that, in this day and age, you could still discover a comic book that nobody has known about because this book was in a wall of a house for more than 70 years. It’s pretty miraculous that it even survived and it’s only had one owner.”
About 100 copies of Action Comics #1 are thought to exist, but relative few are in decent condition. A near-mint copy owned by Nicolas Cage sold at auction in 2011 for a record $2.16 million.