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Image: Action Comics #1
Action Comics #1 1938
Action Comics No. 1 originally cost 10 cents in 1938. A rare copy has drawn $2.16 million today — the highest price ever paid for a comic book.
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updated 12/1/2011 9:48:19 AM ET 2011-12-01T14:48:19

A rare and pristine copy of the first issue of Action Comics, famed for the first appearance of Superman, has set a record Wednesday for the most money paid for a single comic book: $2.16 million.

The issue, graded at 9.0, was auctioned online starting Nov. 11. The starting bid was just $1 but there was a reserve price of $900,000. Neither the name of the buyer nor seller was disclosed.

It's the first time a comic book has broken the $2 million barrier. When the issue was published in 1938 it cost just 10 cents.

“When we broke the record in 2010 by selling the Action Comics No. 1, graded at 8.5, for $1.5 million, I truly believed that this was a record that would stand for many years to come,” said Stephen Fishler, CEO of ComicConnect.com and Metropolis Collectibles.

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Story: Superman comic sells for $1.5M, setting record

The previous record set in March 2010 was followed by the sale of another copy for $1 million. But neither of those issues was in as good a condition as the issue that sold Wednesday, though its pedigree of setting records was already documented. Twice before it set the record for the most expensive book ever, selling for $86,000 in 1992 and $150,000 in 1997.

Story: Superman’s debut comic sells for $1 million

But in 2000, the comic was stolen and thought lost until it was recovered in a storage shed in California in April this year. Several reports in the United States said the owner of the comic at the time of the theft was Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage, although there was no confirmation of the identity of the buyer or seller.

Story: DC do-over: Superman and friends start over from scratch

About 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 are believed to be in existence, and only a handful of those in good condition.

After it was stolen, Fishler said, collectors figured it would never be found or, worse, would be destroyed.

"Clearly, I was wrong. Not in my wildest imagination could I have predicted that this legendary, stolen Action Comics No. 1 would be found, graded at 9.0 and break the record a year and a half later," he said.

With additional reporting from Reuters.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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