The 10 Most Valuable Pokémon Cards of All Time
Since its beginnings as a pair of Game Boy games in the late 1990s, the Pokémon series has evolved to become the highest-grossing media franchise in the world thanks to its copious toys, cartoon shows, movies, and of course, trading cards. In recent years, there's been a mad dash to catch 'em all, as stories of the most valuable Pokémon cards explode across the internet. It seems we can't go more than a few months without a new record being made for Pokémon card worth through public auctions. The following most valuable Pokémon card list will show you just how a combination of quality, rarity, and popularity can lead to six-figure payouts — or more!
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#10: 2005 Japanese Play Promo Holo Gold Star Umbreon
Umbreon isn't just one of Pokémon fans' favorite Eevee evolutions, it's also the subject of one of the most expensive Pokémon cards in existence.
The story behind how you could even get one of these in the first place is surprisingly convoluted. Japanese players could join the Pokémon Player's Club and accumulate experience for activities like attending official events, hosting their own events, or competing in tournaments. Players started with 1000 points when they signed up, and usually earned between 50-100 points per event. In order to earn this Umbreon card, players needed to collect 70,000 pointsby the end of the fourth season.
This degree of rarity, combined with the fact that it was never released in English, ensured that a card with a BGS 9.5 grade sold for $70,000 on the PWCC Marketplace on June 28, 2021.
#9: 1999 Super Secret Battle "No. 1 Trainer" Japanese Promo
While not necessarily commanding the highest value of all Pokémon cards at the moment, No. 1 Trainer (and similar cards) are still highly sought after as they're some of the rarest cards you can find.
This particular card was handed out to the winner of several regional Pokémon card tournaments, with each card providing instructions on how to access — and learn the secret location of — the grand world championship finals in Tokyo. Because there were only seven regional tournaments in the world, it's believed there are only seven of these cards in existence.
As a result, a PSA GEM MINT 10-graded version of this card sold on Heritage Auctions for $90,000 back on July 9, 2020. With the value of Pokémon cards skyrocketing even since then, there's a good chance this card could garner an even higher price now.
#8: 2006 World Championships Promo No.2 Trainer
Interestingly, a silver medal prize is commanding a higher value than the first place prize mentioned above.
This card was a special prize awarded to players at the 2006 Pokémon World Championships in Anaheim, California who made it to the third day of the tournament, but lost during the final single-elimination bracket. The card itself allows those runners-up to return to the World Championships the following year to try their hand again.
With only three of these cards believed to exist, and only one of them graded by PSA (at a MINT 9 value, no less), it's no wonder that a copy of this card sold for $110,100 at auction on February 27, 2021.
#7: 1999 Pokémon Snap Promo Magikarp
Many of the most valuable Pokémon cards have tended to command their highest final bids on sites like Heritage Auctions or PWCC, which makes this Magikarp card's sale even more interesting.
This particular card was part of a Japanese Pokémon Snap promo in 1999, where players would take in-game pictures of one of 10 different Pokémon and enter them in a contest. The winners received 20 copies of their own picture emblazoned on an official Pokémon trading card. Other Pokémon featured in this contest have appeared up for auction over the years, but collectors thought the Magikarp card was likely lost forever.
Popping up seemingly out of nowhere on Yahoo! Auctions (Japan's version of eBay) on January 14, 2022, this Magikarp card commanded a final bid of ¥15,009,501 (or around $122,000 USD) after tax. So far, only one of these cards have been officially graded by PSA and sold — the location of the other 19 copies of this card remain a mystery.
#6: 2000 Neo Genesis 1st Edition Holo Lugia
Usually, the most expensive Pokémon cards tend to be extremely rare (like the tournament card prizes), or are high-quality versions of hard to find base set cards (like the elusive Charizard, but more on that below). This 1st edition Lugia card is interesting because of the set of factors that have contributed its six-figure value.
The legendary bird Pokémon's featured presence on the cover of Pokémon Silver and its starring role in Pokémon: The Movie 2000 have caused it to become one of the most popular second-generation Pokémon. As for its card, miscuts and centering issues plagued the Neo Genesis line of cards, making them extremely difficult to grade.
Combine Lugia's popularity along with these production issues, and you can see why a high-graded holographic Lugia card sold for $144,300 in a PWCC auction on May 28, 2021.This card features a BGS 10 Pristine rating — one of only a small handful with the distinction.
#5: 1998 Kangaskhan Holo Family Event Trophy Card Promo
Combine a base set Pokémon with tournament prize rarity and you're sure to find one of the most valuable Pokémon cards out there. This Kangaskhan card was awarded at a Japanese Parent/Child Mega Battle tournament back in 1998. Teams of parents and their kids who achieved a certain amount of wins received this card as a prize.
There are only a few dozen of these cards that have been officially graded by PSA. A GEM MINT 10 rated card sold on eBay through PSA for $150,100 back in October 2020. It's possible another of the same quality could sell for even more now.
#4: 2017 Signed Ishihara Pokémon GX Promo
To celebrate The Pokémon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara's 60th birthday, the company produced an extremely limited run of a card featuring an illustration of the CEO holding a Master Ball. The card itself was handed out to employees and guests at a private event celebrating the CEO's birthday, with a total print run estimated anywhere between 30 to 200 cards.
The card itself is a fun twist on the typical Pokémon card setup, with abilities and card text making constant reference to Ishihara's 60th birthday. The 60 Congratulations! ability damages opponents for 1060 HP and allows players to flip 60 coins. For every heads that appears, they can take one present (where those presents come from, the card doesn't say).
While a PSA GEM MINT 10 copy of this card sold for $50,000 a few years ago, a PSA NM 7 version featuring Ishihara's signature sold on Goldin Auctions on April 24, 2021 for $247,230. For context, bidding only started at $500. It seems like this Pokémon card's worth was a surprise, even to the owner.
#3: 1998 Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram Blastoise
In an effort to bring the Pokémon Trading Card Game out of Japan and into the West, Wizards of the Coast commissioned a pair of cards to pitch an English-language version of the game to Nintendo. One of these cards — a Blastoise hologram card — made its way onto Heritage Auctions and sold on Jan 14, 2021 for a cool $360,000.
What makes this Blastoise card unique is that the back of the card is completely blank, as the design (let alone Wizards of the Coast's involvement in production) hadn't been finalized yet. The second card of the pair was created to demonstrate an international version of the card, but no one knows where it is or who currently owns it — it's possible this card's companion is completely lost to time.
#2: 1999 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Charizard
The 1st edition Charizard from the base set of Pokémon cards is one of the most highly-sought after Pokémon cards in existence. Like the Lugia card, its value is the result of a combination of rarity and popularity. In this Charizard's case, early hologram cards in the base set didn't feature drop shadows in the design like later print runs, so this particular Charizard Pokémon card's valueends up being much higher than normal.
And the price seems to keep climbing every few months. Back in December 2020, a listing on Goldin Auctions fetched $360,000. In March, 2021, a PSA GEM MT 10 listing got as high as $399,750. A year later, a similarly-graded listing on PWCC sold for $420,000. There's a good chance we haven't hit the ceiling on this one just yet.
Most Valuable Pokémon Card: 1998 Japanese Promo Holo Illustrator Pikachu
While most people know the Charizard as being one of the most highly desirable Pokémon cards, it's actually the lovable Pikachu that holds the title for most valuable Pokémon card ever. This holy grail of Pokémon card collecting was a prize awarded to winners of a handful of drawing contests for a Japanese magazine. The card itself features artwork designed by Pikachu's original creator, Atsuko Nishida, and only 39 copies of the card were awarded through these contests.
The value of this card has skyrocketed in recent years. For a while, a PWCC listing that sold for $375,000 on February 27, 2021 held the record as the most expensive Pokémon card. A year later, Goldin Auctions listed a final sale price of a PSA 7 graded card for $900,000 — a record amount for a public sale on a Pokémon card — though the actual listing no longer appears to exist on Goldin's website.
Private sales, on the other hand, are a whole other matter. On April 2, 2022, Guinness World Records presented YouTube star, MMA fighter, and avid Pokémon card collector Logan Paul with a certificate for "most expensive Pokémon trading card sold at a private sale" after wearing a recently-acquired Illustrator Pikachu card around his neck during his WWE debut match. Paul traded a PSA 9 graded edition of the card that he had previously purchased — along with $4 million — to a collector in Dubai for a PSA GEM MINT 10 graded version of the card. All told, the trade was valued at $5,275,000.