A $412 check that bought the rights to the Superman character has sold at an online auction for a sum that would make the Man of Steel himself quake: $160,000.
The check from DC Comics is made out to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and includes a line item for $130, showing DC Comics paid for full ownership and rights to Superman.
With the franchise now world famous and worth billions of dollars, that looks like a shrewd buy.
Siegel and Shuster created Superman together while teenagers in Cleveland, Ohio, in the early 1930s. The superhero’s first appearance came in “Action Comics” No. 1 in April 1938. The pair would later attempt to win back the rights to Superman in court, as it morphed into a money-spinning global industry.
The check was exhibited in a court case in the 1970s, during the final attempt by Siegel and Shuster to retrieve the rights to Superman. The pair failed however, and by the time the first Superman movie came out in 1978, Shuster was working a low paid job for a courier company.
Shuster passed away in 1992, and Siegel in 1996, but the heirs of the two have made fresh attempts to snatch back the rights. Vincent Zurzolo, the co-founder of ComicConnect, told Reuters:
“The concept of the superhero was born with Superman. That $130 check essentially created a billion-dollar industry.”
Here’s part of the famous check: