The $130 check that transferred the rights of Superman to DC Comics sold for $160,000 in an Internet auction on Monday.
The Detective Comics check was written to Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel to give up their claim for the iconic comic-book character who wore an “S” on his chest in 1938.
ComicConnect co-owner Vincent Zurolo said the idea of superheroes began with Superman. ComicConnect, which originates in New York, held the Internet auction. He said the $130 basically began the billion-dollar industry, citing the other commonly heard of superheroes: Spider-man, Batman, X-Men, Iron Man, etc.
And, much like superman, all of these have their own empire in movies and merchandise.
Zurzolo said the check is considered to be the “holy grail” for millions of comic book collectors and fans. He said people should consider what the world would be like if the check had not been written. Zurzolo said it’s possible the comic book industry would be non-existent.
The agreement that Shuster and Siegel signed to sell the rights in the late 1930s came back to bite them and their heirs, as they sued both DC Comics and the parent company Warner Bros. The Cleveland boys were childhood friends and sons of Jewish immigrants. They generated Superman while in their 20s and offered to sell the character in various places before DC comics bought it.
According to ComicConnect, Shuster was completely broke and working as a delivery man in 1978 when the first Superman movie was released. Worse, the $130 payment was added to a $402 check that failed to spell the boys’ name correctly, which forced them to endorse it correctly and incorrectly so they could get paid. Shuster passed away in 1992; Siegel died four years later in 1996.
The firm sold the check on behalf of a DC Comic employee’s heirs. It had been put away in a drawer for several decades. Zurzolo kept the buyer anonymous.
The check auction was held not long after the first issue of Action Comics, introducing the red-caped superhero, was sold for $2.16 million in December. The Action Comics comic was produced in 1938 and sold for 10 cents.