When the words Nicolas Cage and robbery are in the same sentence, one could assume the actor is readying to desecrate yet another historical monument in the latest National Treasure movie. But in 2000, it was Cage who found himself at the wrong end of a heist when a near-mint copy of Action Comics #1 was stolen from his house. And the story of its eventual recovery is weird enough that it might not seem out of place in the pages of a comic book.
It’s no secret that Nic Cage is a fan of comics. The actor, born Nicolas Coppola, wanted to distance himself from the shadow of his famous uncle (Francis Ford Coppola) and chose a stage name after Luke Cage, one of his favorite characters. Cage portrayed the titular character in both Ghost Rider movies, played Big Daddy in Kickass, and had for years been attached to the on-again-off-again Tim Burton take on the Man of Steel, Superman Lives. Though the project got so far as to screen tests of Cage in the actual Superman suit, it ultimately never saw the light of day. Cage even named his second son Kal-El (Superman’s Kryptonian name), so it’s fair to assume he was upset when his book featuring the first appearance of Superman disappeared.
Cage’s copy went missing from his home in early 2000. Its condition was graded at 9.0 by Certified Guaranty Company, the leading service for evaluating the quality of comic books. According to THR, that rating would have made it one of the highest publicly graded copies of the book known to exist, with only approximately 100 original copies still existing at all. The actor reportedly bought it for around $150,000 in 1997. In January 2000, Cage reported it stolen, along with a copy of Detective Comics #27 (Batman’s first appearance) and Marvel Mystery #71. They’d all been mounted in frames throughout Cage’s home and reportedly could have been missing for weeks before the actor even noticed.
The head of the LAPD’s Art Theft Detail, Donald Hrycyk, was put on the case, relentlessly tracking leads. A 2002 tip led Hrycyk to a safety deposit box in Tennessee, where it turned out the book was just a replica of the cover wrapped around catalog for women’s underwear. But despite Hrycyk’s efforts, it would be more than a decade until the issue resurfaced in April of 2011 when someone bought the contents of an abandoned San Fernando Valley storage locker and found the treasure inside. Once uncovered, auctioneer Dan Dotson (of Storage Wars fame) helped to broker a deal to reunite Cage with his book. “It is divine providence that the comic was found and I am hopeful that the heirloom will be returned to my family,” Cage said in a statement at the time.
The two eventually were reunited, though not for long. Less than a year after the book’s recovery, Cage sold it in an online auction for a staggering $2,161,000 – the highest price ever paid for a comic book at the time (its cover price is ten cents). The previous record high had also been for a copy of the same book, which fetched $1.5 million the year prior. The Marvel Mystery book has also since been recovered, but Cage’s copy of Detective Comics #27 is still out there somewhere and no culprits have ever been found. So while Cage’s prized Action Comics #1, was recovered, justice has yet to be served. This looks like a job for… the police. Yeah, the police should probably handle it.
Next: Crisis Showrunner Wasn’t Joking About Reaching Out For THAT Superman Cameo