Most Expensive Pokemon Cards: Interest in these collectibles remains strong
Almost thirty years after the first series launched, the Pokemon Trading Card Game is still phenomenally popular. It’s a global favourite, having spawned a multi-billion-dollar franchise that took no time to spread around the world like wildfire. Today, Pokemon as a franchise is massively valuable, and some of the rarest Pokemon cards on Earth fetch staggeringly high prices at auction. We’re here to address that fact and identify the most expensive Pokemon cards money can buy.
At the tail-end of February 2022, the world record was broken when the most expensive Pokemon card in history was sold. How much did the buyer pay for this card? Let’s find out.
The Most Expensive Pokemon Cards in History
On the 24th of February, 2022, a single Pokemon card sold for $900,000, decimating the previous world record. It was one of the rarest Pokemon cards known – a ‘Pikachu Illustrator’ card, released as an extremely limited run as part of a competition in 1997. There were just 41 copies of this card made, drawn by Atsuko Nishida, the original creator of Pikachu, the Pokemon that features prominently on the card.
It was graded as ‘near-mint’, something that contributed massively to its overall value. At the auction, the bidding was heated, and when the dust had settled, someone had paid almost one million dollars for the ownership of this Pokemon card. However, it is widely believed that more expensive Pokemon cards still exist out there today. For instance, musician Steve Aoki boasts ownership of an Illustrator card, just like this one, but it’s graded as ‘mint’, which is a level higher than the one that sold for $900,000.
With that in mind, there’s anticipation that, if auctioned, Aoki’s card would be worth upwards of $1 million. That easily ranks his cards as one of the most expensive Pokemon cards known to man.
With the growth of crypto and the emergence of non-fungible tokens, the question arises about possible Pokemon NFTs. Many unofficial pieces of Pokemon digital art have been appearing on NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea. But this space is still in its early days.
Small and Mighty
For those not connected to the industry in any way, it may seem bizarre that Pokemon cards can be worth so much. Although, the concept of valuable trading cards can be traced back to the 19th century, to the originals of the oldest decks of baseball cards. In 2016, a 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card was sold at auction for $3.1 million.
Before the Illustrator card sold for $900,000, the most expensive Pokemon card was… An Illustrator. That’s right – in 2021, another Illustrator sold for $375,000, becoming known as the most valuable Pokemon card in history. Before that, the range diversified a little, with other cards being introduced to the heights of stardom. For instance, In 2020, a 1999 Shadowless Charizard was bought for $220,000, and then sold again for $350,000 just one year later.
In the last few years, high-grade, Japanese Pokemon cards from the nineties have proven to be lucrative investments. For example, in 2020, a top-tier limited edition tournament card called the 1998 Kangaskhan Holo Family Event Trophy sold for $150,000. It’s unknown how many of these cards exist, but only 46 have ever been assessed by the PSA, the world’s leading collectable grading organisation.
The most expensive Western Pokemon card to ever sell at auction was a 2000 Lugia – the first-ever English Lugia card to be produced. To explain the grading system, a ‘good’ rated Lugia could sell for around $50, but in 2020, this 2000 Lugia sold at auction for $129,000, boasting ‘perfect’ condition.
Is it time to invest in Pokemon cards?