What Are The Most Expensive Pokemon Cards In The World?

Ever since launching in the mid-1990s in Japan, debuting overseas later in the decade, limited edition Pokémon trading cards have been manufactured which you won’t find in any pack.

Seemingly every year, the rarest of these see the light of day once again, breaking new records as they are auctioned off for sums even more eye-watering than before. In the case of the most expensive at the time of writing, its asking price soared to more than $5 million following a sale in 2022, a number which will only increase due to the demand from collectors to own a piece of Poké history.

The rest of the list doesn’t cost quite as much, but you’ll still need to set aside a few hundred grand if you want to add any of them to your collection…

The Most Expensive Pokémon Card Of All Time Is…

Pokémon Company

Produced in 1997 as the prize for an art competition organised by the Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic, the Pikachu Illustrator card is a seriously cute one, depicting the cuddly Electric-type drawing other characters. As it was never publicly released, numbers were limited – in 2021, it was estimated that only 41 of the cards have ever been produced.

Of those, only 10 have ever been certified by the PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), and of those 10, only one has been certified with a 10 rating, meaning it is in the most pristine mint condition imaginable. Naturally, it was that specific card which sold for a whopping $5,275,000 in 2021, with the buyer revealed to be YouTuber Logan Paul a year later.

Before that deal was made public, other variations of the card had seen a growth in demand when sold at auction. A PSA 9 card was sold for $195,000 in 2019, and just three years later, a PSA 7 card was going for $900,000 – we expect more zeroes to appear on the asking price when the next Pikachu Illustrator card is up for auction.

The Most Expensive Card You Might Actually Own…

Pokémon Company

With only 41 ever produced, there’s no point rooting through your collection to see if there’s a Pikachu Illustrator hiding in there somewhere. But the next card on the list – which sold for $493,230 in September 2023 – was mass produced in Japan, so if you are a collector, one might have found its way to you.

Released in packs of apple-flavoured bubble gum as part of a promotion, with one in 40 packs containing the card, the Charizard, Scarce Blue Back card sold in September 2023 for a whopping $493,230. But if it was mass produced, what would make it so desirable?

Well, according to the auction listing, only 31 of the cards were ever PSA certified, with the specific card in question being the sole one of those to get the maximum 10 rating. But more importantly, the artwork is by the original card creators Topsun, meaning that this card – produced in 1997 – is widely believed to be part of the earliest set ever created (pre-first edition!) due to its blue back, increasing its desirability.

The Rest Of The Top Five Most Expensive Pokémon Cards

Pokémon Company

Two more cards have been auctioned off for sums in excess of $400,000, with the third most expensive sale being the 1998 Pikachu Silver Trophy, which went for $444,000 in September 2023. One of only 14 rumoured to have ever been produced, as prizes at the first ever tournament in Japan in 1998, this one has the distinction of being the only one to have a Gem Mint rating so far.

Next up is another Charizard, a first edition card from 1999, which sold for $420,000 for one crucial reason: due to a printing error, the fire-type doesn’t have a shadow, a mistake that was swiftly corrected by the manufacturers. That alone has made this unique design sought after.

Rounding out the top five is a 1998-era Blastoise card commissioned by Wizards of the Coast for a retail presentation, so store owners could have a glimpse at what the cards looked like. This prototype was so early, the back of the card had a Magic: The Gathering logo on it, and is one of the earliest American cards known to exist; it sold for $360,000 in early 2021, but its rarity likely means that price will increase in the coming years.

The Rest Of The Top 10 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards Of All Time

Pokémon Company

In sixth place, we’re returning to the first ever Pokémon tournament that was held in Japan, this time for a Bronze Trainer Pikachu card, which fetched $300,000 when it was auctioned off in March 2023. Less than a hundred of these cards were printed, with this specific card being one of only four to have been graded by the PSA.

Next up is the most unusual card in the list, not featuring a Pokémon, but the CEO and President of The Pokemon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara. Reportedly manufactured as gifts for anybody who attended his birthday party in 2017, less than 60 – although the exact number is unknown – exist; one sold for $50,000 in 2020, but a PSA 7 version sold for almost $200,000 more in 2023 as it was signed by the man himself, which helped its value skyrocket to $247,230.

At number eight, there’s a card that could have only been obtained by families who competed in a “parent vs child” family event in 1998: a Kangaskhan with a baby in its pouch. Variations of this rare card (of which only 11 are rumoured to exist) sold for three times recently; twice for $150,000 in October 2020, and again for $175,000 in summer 2023.

Pokémon Company

In the penultimate slot in the top 10 is the Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia. This has made the rankings due to how many errors and misprints there were in early runs, which have largely been maintained; this printing of the card, which doesn’t feature any such errors, sold for $144,300 due to its sheer rarity.

Finally, it’s another competition prize, this time for victors in the Japanese World Summer Challenge in 2000, where winners got the chance to be immortalised in their own, exclusive Pokémon card. We have no idea why silver medallist Toshiyuki Yamaguchi gave his away, but the one-of-a-kind card sold for $137,500 in 2023, meaning one lucky collector will have to answer the question “who the hell is that guy?” whenever they show it to anyone else for the rest of their lives.

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Team Zavvi

Team Zavvi

A collection of thoughts, opinions and news from the staff at Zavvi.