The 5 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards Ever Sold

The 5 Most Expensive Pokémon Cards Ever Sold

If you’ve got an old Pokémon TCG collection kicking around in a beat-up binder at your parent’s house, you’ve probably also wondered whether your hoard is worth anything at some point or another. Given we’ve seen cards go for figures in the millions, funding a house off the back of your old cardboard is a tantalising possibility. But before you wipe off the dust from your well-loved hoard and go through it, what are the most expensive Pokémon cards out there?

The Pokémon TCG has been around for almost 28 years, and as of March 2023 over 52.9 billion cards have been produced. That’s a whole lot of cardboard. While a decent chunk of those cards are worth only a few cents, there are plenty of diamonds amongst the chaff. The booming secondary market for Pokémon cards has prices constantly rising and breaking records – here’s the most expensive Pokémon cards sold to date. Who knows, maybe your long-forgotten collection might be home to the next big seller?

Let’s get into it.

Top 5 most expensive Pokémon cards

5. 1998 Pokémon Blastoise #009/165R Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram

Most Expensive Pokémon Cards
Image: Pokémon / Heritage Auctions / Kotaku AU

Approximate Sale Value: $360,000 USD

This Blastoise card was originally commissioned by Wizards of the Coast in 1998 as a template for what the English version of the TCG would look like in a final print run, making it one of the earliest English Pokémon cards to exist. There were only two Blastoise cards printed, although the whereabouts (and continued existence) of the second card are not known. The one that we do know exists was given an 8.5 CGC grade (near mint) and sold for $360,000 in January 2021 at Heritage Auctions.

4. 1999 Pokémon Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard

Most Expensive Pokémon Cards
Image: PSA / Pokémon / Kotaku AU

Approximate Sale Value: $420,000 USD

Charizard is one of the most iconic Pokémon out there (alongside Pikachu). As is the case with many sets, even ones 25 years old, Charizard is the most valuable card out of the Base Set. The shadowless Base Set Charizard in question – one of 121 such cards that have been awarded a PSA 10 grade – sold for $420,000 via PWCC auctions in March 2022. Prior to that, this highly sought-after card sold in October 2020 to rapper Logic for $220,574, and twice on eBay in November 2020 — first for $295,300, and again for $350,100. Given the continued climb in price, the shadowless Base Set Charizard could be coming for a higher place in the most expensive Pokémon card list any time now.

3. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Silver 2nd-2nd Tournament #2 Trophy Pikachu

Most Expensive Pokémon Cards
Image: Goldin Auctions / Kotaku AU

Approximate Sale Value: $444,000 USD

The PSA 10 version of this card was sold at Goldin auction in September 2023. It was given out as a second-place trophy for the Lizardon Mega Battle—the first international Pokémon tournament in Japan in 1998—and is especially rare. It is speculated that just fourteen of these cards were created, although only four have been confirmed to exist. Of those four, this is the only Gem Mint-graded version. 

2. 1995 Pokémon Japanese Topsun Charizard (Blue Black)

Most Valuable Pokemon TCG
Image: Goldin Auctions / Kotaku AU

Approximate Sale Value: $493,230 USD

A PSA 10 version of this Charizard card was sold at auction through Goldin in September 2023 for a whopping $493,230 USD. The card originally came in gum boxes and wasn’t particularly rare to begin with. However, this top seller fetched a hefty price thanks to its gem mint grade – the only 10 awarded by PSA amongst thirty-one other copies in the company’s records. 

The art itself is based on Charizard from the Pokémon anime. As the name suggests was created by Topsun – unconfirmed reports note that despite the 1995 dating on the card, it was actually distributed in 1997 with the earlier year indicating the date of trademark. Either way, this Charizard hails from some of the earliest Pokémon card sets ever released. It predates the Media Factory and Wizards of the Coast eras, only adding to its rarity. 

1. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Illustrator – Holo CoroCoro Comics

Most Valuable Pokemon TCG
Image: Logan Paul / Kotaku AU

Approximate Sale Value: $5,275,000 USD

Also known simply as Illustrator Pikachu, this is one of the rarest Pokémon cards out there – and holds the Guinness world record for the most expensive Pokémon card ever sold at a private sale. The card is one of an estimated 39 in the world (although there are reports that 41 exist after a number of un-awarded Illustrator cards appeared on Japanese auction sites in 2019), and was awarded to selected winning entrants in 1998 as part of three illustration contests. Winners of the contest were awarded 20 copies of a card featuring their entered illustrations, as well as a copy of the Pikachu, while 20 more entrants who received an Excellence award also scored a copy.

The PSA Grade 10 card which holds the current record was purchased by YouTuber Logan Paul in Dubai in July 2021 – the trade consisted of a PSA 9 Illustrator Pikachu worth $1,275,000 and an additional $4 million USD, bringing the total cost of the card to an estimated $5,275,000 USD. Paul then wore the Pokémon card as he made his WWE wrestling debut at WrestleMania 38 in April 2022, just to really flex it. His card currently appears to be the only Gem Mint (PSA 10) graded version of the Illustrator Pikachu.

While you might not be sitting on a multi-million dollar Pokémon card unknowingly, that’s not to say your stash may not be home to some gems worth a few hundred or thousand – providing they’re in good condition. There’s a whole heap of cards old and new fetching a solid price on the secondhand Pokémon TCG market. If you’re keen to sell some cards to afford even more cards, well, that’s just a solid strategy to fund your cardboard hoard.

Have you found any pricy Pokémon cards amongst your collection? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Logan Paul / Guinness World Records / Kotaku Australia

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