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These are the 5 most expensive Pokemon TCG cards of all time

by | Mar 9, 2022

Reading Time: 5 min.
Reading Time: 5 min.

Pokemon cards are skyrocketing in price, but which Pokemon card is the most expensive of them all?

Select Pokemon TCG cards have been climbing in price for years, but an infamous series of Logan Paul videos kicked that price increase into overdrive. This came along a massive inflation of the price for these cards, with his boisterous overvaluations of his collection driving up prices for everyone.

But with the Pokemon TCG coming up on its 25th birthday, it’s somewhat difficult to sort out which card is the most expensive. Many cards were released in extremely limited quantities and some of those never actually saw release outside Japan. This has made it tough to keep track of the most sought-after cards.

Here are the most expensive cards in Pokemon TCG history. 

Illustrator Pikachu fetches $1.2 million at auction

In March 2022, a rare Illustrator Pikachu card commanded $1.2 million at auction, making it one of the most expensive cards in Pokemon TCG history.

Though the classic Charizard from the Pokemon TCG base set is the most famous of the lot, many of the priciest cards are random oddities that happen to be extremely rare. Illustrator Pikachu is a prime example of that. The card was a prize for winners of a contest organized through Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic. Only 41 are known to have existed and it’s likely that not all of them have survived the last 24 years.

Illustrator Pikachu has long been one of the most sought-after cards among high-rolling Pokemon TCG collectors. Given that the one that fetched $1.2 million was only rated as a near-mint 7.0, previous cards rated higher could wind up being auctioned off at an even higher price later on.

1st Edition borderless base set Charizard remains one of the most expensive Pokemon cards

The most iconic Pokemon card of all time is the base set Charizard, and it has a price tag that speaks to that. Gem mint-rated 1st Edition base set Charizards without a border have auctioned for over $300,000.

Though Logan Paul likes to talk up his supposed $1 million Charizard card, actual sales haven’t reflected that claim. A gem mint Charizard auctions for about one third of that price, which is still a lot of money. Other similar cards have sold for under $250,000 in 2022.

Though this eye-popping price tag might have some Pokemon fans rummaging through their closets to check their collection, very few will have a card that can get anything close to that. The card needs to be a 1st Edition borderless base set version of the card. Regular prints and the second release of the base set won’t cut it.

From there, the card needs to be rated by either PSA or Beckett at a 10 gem mint price. Anything below that, even a 9.5, will sell for between $10,000 and $15,000.

And of course, getting a gem mint card is largely out of the player’s control. Even if they pull the card right out of the pack and stick it in a hard case, how the card is cut in the factory and imperfections from packaging or transportation can see a fresh card rated as low as 6.

Backless Blastoise can hit over $300,000

Backless Blastoise is one of the biggest anomalies in Pokemon TCG history, and that uniqueness has been shown to be worth over $300,000.

The term “backless Blastoise” is literal. While the front looks like a standard Pokemon card, the back is just solid white. This is because the cards were reportedly a part of a printing test run by Wizards of the Coast ahead of the official launch of the Pokemon TCG.

There are several other interesting notes related to the card. First and foremost, backless Blastoise has pointed corners rather than the traditional rounded corners of the Pokemon TCG. It also has a very different font than what eventually made it into the game and different wording for the Pokemon’s moves. 

Oddly, it also has different artwork than the official base set’s Blastoise release. This original printing used the same artwork of the Pokemon that was eventually used with base set booster packs.

Pokemon TCG championship cards are among most expensive

A tradition in official Pokemon TCG events was to give out cards as a trophy to winners. This has resulted in a number of extremely rare cards that carry high price tags.

Though these cards don’t call for the same cash as some of the others on this list, they are significantly more rare. A rare Kanghaskhan promo card was handed out to some participants in the 1998 Parent/Child Mega Battle Tournament in Japan, with those cards commanding up to $150,000. Other tournaments, including Pokemon TCG World Championships, have offered their own similarly rare prize cards which can fetch over $100,000 on the market.

Neo Genesis Lugia gem mint condition once sold for over $125,000

Many of the highest-selling Pokemon TCG cards are either well-preserved base set cards or just extremely rare. One of the few that bucks this trend is the 1st Edition Neo Genesis Lugia.

Neo Genesis was the first Pokemon TCG expansion to cover the Pokemon Gold and Silver games. It’s still an old card, first arriving in the United States in 2000, but Lugia stands apart from many of the other cards from that time for a few reasons. 

Neo Genesis Lugia was unique at the time as it called for multiple different energy types for its attack. Coupled with the fact that Lugia is a fan-favorite Pokemon, this card has held up much better than almost any other card outside the base set. A 10-rated Neo Genesis Lugia took in over $125,000 at auction and is one of the few cards that can command high-five-figure sums.

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