Arnold Palmer Masters Trophy brings in second-highest price for golf item

A Masters Trophy purchased for Arnold Palmer sold for $444,012 on Sunday morning.

It's the second-highest price paid for a piece of golf memorabilia, behind only Horton Smith's 1936 Masters jacket, which sold for $682,229.

The trophy was sold by golf auction company Green Jacket Auctions, which also auctioned the Smith jacket in 2013.

"Arnie did it again," said Ryan Carey, co-owner of Green Jacket Auctions. "We knew that this was a special piece, but even we were impressed by the level of interest from Arnold Palmer fans. Simply put, people love Arnold Palmer. There's a strong case to be made that Arnold Palmer is destined to become the face of the modern golf collecting hobby."

The identity of the winning bidder was not immediately known.

Augusta National started making the clubhouse trophies in 1993, and past champions were entitled to purchase one for each of their wins. Palmer, who died in September at the age of 87, won the Masters in 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1964.

Palmer had three trophies in his possession, but he authorized the fourth to be purchased by the Bay Creek Resort in Cape Charles, Virginia. The resort featured a Palmer course that opened in 2001.

The resort took possession of the trophy, which cost about $17,000, in 2005, with the intention of putting it in a massive museum on the property. But financial and legal problems scrapped plans for the project, and the trophy was privately sold to a foreign collector in 2013.

A statement by Palmer's family issued before the close of the auction confirmed that the production of the trophy was arranged by Palmer, but the resort had promised Palmer that the trophy would be used only for the museum and that the decision to sell it was "disappointing."

"Ultimately, these owners did not build the museum and, instead of sending the trophy to Arnold, the owners sold the trophy to a third party without notifying the family," the statement said. "It was always Arnold's intention that this trophy would be placed in an appropriate museum or institution with which he was personally associated. We hope that the winning bidder in this auction will allow the trophy to be publicly displayed so that it can be appreciated by fans of Arnold Palmer for years to come."