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 US ($2.2 million Cdn).

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This copy of Action Comics No. 1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold for $2,161,000 US at an online auction that ended Wednesday. (Metropolis Collectibles, Inc./ComicConnect, Corp./Associated Press)

The issue, graded at 9.0 — between very fine and near mint condition — was auctioned starting Nov. 11 online at www.comicconnect.com. 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 US barrier. The issue was published in June 1938 and 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.

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.

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But in 2000, it was stolen and thought lost until it was recovered in a storage shed in California in April this year.

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.