So you’re wondering what the most expensive Pokémon cards ever sold are? Let’s get in to it!
When I was growing up, the kids around me traded Pokémon cards for the love of the game. They cared about winning, and not the potential financial value of their cards.
Related: How to Sell Pokemon: Your Ultimate Guide
Recently, the amount of media coverage around eye-popping Pokémon card sales has been off the charts, but many people still don’t understand what makes certain cards more valuable than others.
Before we dive in to this list, it’s important to note that if you see a card on this list that you own, it doesn’t necessarily mean yours is worth the same. There are a lot of factors that determine the value of a card, with the most important factor being how good the condition is.
You will likely need to get your cards graded before you can determine the true value. It’s also important to know how to spot fake cards so that you don’t get scammed.
For a full explanation on how you can begin the process of appraising your cards, check out this article!
Below is a list of the 31 highest Pokémon single card sales of all time. Please keep in mind, with new record breaking sales happening frequently, you never know when a new card will pop up!
The drop-off in value from Charizard to Blastoise is staggering, but make no mistake, Blastoise is entrenched as the second most valuable 1st Edition card. Scarcity also plays a part, with 101 total PSA 10’s in the registry, which is 23 less than ‘Zard.
The current value of this card is around $26,000, so it’s definitely seen quite a drop since this record sale back in 2020.
Pikachu encrusted in 24K gold. Sometimes going over the top is necessary for anniversaries, especially when it involves Pokémon. To originally obtain this reissued Pikachu, you had to pre-order it for $2,100.00.
This card was not used in play, and was made by Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka.
The 1996 Japanese No Rarity Charizard has taken off, and rightfully so with a total of 28 PSA 9 grades in their registry. A PSA 10, which there are 6 of, would likely fetch a mega-haul at auction. The price tag could actually be higher than a PSA 10 1st Edition English Charizard due to scarcity.
One of the rarest trophy cards, the Computer Error Trophy has a PSA 10 population of 6 with just 39 graded in their registry. The trophy cards were used as prizes at the 1998 Kamex Mega Battle.
This card was produced by the iconic trading card company, Topps, who produced Pokemon cards for a very short time in 2000. There was a Topps Chrome Pokemon Sparkle and Spectra series, which are significantly less rare than the “Tekno” set.
The PSA 10 population of this particular card is just 10, so the fact that it ended up on this list is definitely not shocking.
In 2005, 162 finalists won this Mew trophy card. Of those, 19 have been graded with PSA and 17 of them received PSA 10’s (hello quality control!).
Trophy cards have become one of the most sought-after promos, and for good reason. Only a true Pokémon master could originally obtain it.
Pokémon Snap is a 1999 first-person photography game published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64.
Three months after its release, two contests were run to promote the game. Shogakukan’s CoroCoro Comic and the Nintendo-sponsored variety TV show, 64 Mario Stadium, hosted photo contests for participants to send in their best photos from Pokémon Snap .
Five winners from each contest had their photos made into official Pokemon cards. The winning cards featured each winner’s name in the Illustrator credit, in this case, Kaori Someya.
The card sold at a PWCC Premier Auction, who had this to say about it:
“Even the most novice of Pokemon investors understand the extreme rarity and importance of these early trophy cards. Ushering in what has become one of the single greatest Pokemon tournaments in the world, the Japanese World Championship (originally known as the Japanese Tropical Mega Battle); which has produced some of the rarest and most valuable Pokemon cards in the world. This inaugural tournament took place in 1999 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii. This event was an invite only and was a battle between the best 50 players from Canada, Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Japan. During the event, there were a handful of various trophy cards that could be obtained, one was the offered tropical winds finals participant trophy. Very few of these cards exist, so trying to acquire one on the open market is virtually impossible.”
This card sold during the same PWCC Premier Auction as the Tropical Wind promo above, and they had this to say:
“One of the rarest and most coveted Pokemon cards in existence, the Tamamushi University Magikarp was a prize card that was given out as part of the Tamamushi University Hyper Test. The test was published in Shogakukan magazines, only allowing hopeful participants a limited window of time to submit it for review. Those that made the cut were invited to a two-day event in Osaka where they were separated into three age groups and then subdivided into various gyms, where only the top players in each group qualified for the second day of the event. On the second day, these top players battled it out against each other, and only those who won at least one battle received this card as their prize. Featuring the iconic artwork of legendary Pokemon artist Ken Sugimori, this is one of the most recognizable Japanese cards ever created, as the artwork ultimately never did see an English release. One of only 69 copies to ever be reviewed by PSA€™s graders, and one of only 12 to receive their coveted Gem Mint status,”
Gold Star Pokémon cards are extremely rare and you have to break the bank to acquire one as a result. The cards are named after the gold star that appears next to the Pokémon’s name at the top of the card, differentiating itself from the base version.
There are only 30 PSA 10’s of this card in the population, and if you bought one back in 2018 for $3500, you made a pretty good investment!
This is another monster sale that took place at PWCC, who had this to say:
“The 2012 Pokemon World Championships held at the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii. Taking place from August 13-15, featuring cards from the HeartGold & SoulSilver as well as early Black & White era, the tournament was invite-only with players given a last chance opportunity to earn an invitation to the main tournament on the first day of competition.
Featuring the triumphant pose of a Pikachu holding a silver trophy illustrated by Kei Hoshiba that was a mainstay for this era of trophy cards, this stunning card remains a favorite among collectors. Only awarded to the championship winners from this year, this is the only copy of the card that is currently graded by PSA, with only three players having been awarded the card for this year.”
In 1998, Japanese media publisher Shogakukan sponsored an education-themed Pokémon promotion based on the fictional Tamamushi University. As the program’s final and most challenging test, passing the “Hyper Professor Exam” granted students one of the most coveted Pokémon promo cards of all time. Of the 21,684 students that took it, only 198 passed.
PSA has graded 107 of these cards, with only 14 receiving a 10. These cards are so rare that there hasn’t been a single sale of a PSA 10 since this one back in 2021.
If you are starting to see a theme, this is another PWCC Premier Auction sale. To obtain this card, members of the “Pokemon Player’s Club” needed to have accumulated 70000 points by the end of the fourth season, making it the most difficult to acquire of all the Player’s Club cards produced.
Very little information is available about this card, but it mistakenly lists the illustrator Miki Tanaka’s name as “Miki Takano”. There is also a “pink blotch encircled with blue ink” printing error on the bottom left of card.
Presented as the first place prize from the 1997-98 Japanese “Lizardon Mega Battle” Pokemon tournament events, these cards were extremely limited in their release and had only been printed once before (for the first official Japanese Pokemon tournament in 1997). There’s no official print number, but rumors say that there were only 14 of these cards ever made.
What we can verify is that there are only 8 of these in the PSA population, with no PSA 10’s and only 4 PSA 9’s out there. A full set of the gold, silver and bronze trophy cards sold at Goldin in May of 2022 for $480,000, with the gold being a PSA 8.
This trophy card is from the 2006 Pokemon World Championships in Anaheim, California and is the only one that has ever been graded by PSA. There are thought to be just three of them in existence.
Lugia is an extremely coveted character, sometimes even compared to Charizard in terms of overall popularity after being on the box of the second generation Pokemon Game Boy games. Due to printing quality control issues, there are only 41 PSA 10’s of this card in the population, and only 3 of the more desirable BGS 10s.
With a population of just 11 PSA 10’s, the Kangaskhan Family Trophy Card has Grail written all over it. A PSA 9 even broke the six-figure mark in early 2021, selling for $100,100 on eBay.
There are a total of 45 of these graded, and it will certainly be interesting to see what happens the next time a PSA 10 goes to auction.
This Charizard features a thick 1st Edition stamp, which is called out on the BGS label. What’s the difference?
While stamping cards for the 1st Edition of the Base Set, Wizards of the Coast reportedly realized they needed additional holofoils to meet their quota. However, the manufacturer adjusted the stamp pressure for the second printing, creating a noticeable difference between the two stamps. Thick stamps feature a thicker “1” and thinner letters in “Edition,” while thin stamps display the opposite. While thin stamps are more desirable for non-holo cards, thick-stamp holos are considered more rare.
We previously saw this card on the list at #11, but graded a PSA 10. That copy sold for $150,000. To see a BGS 9 sell for $30,000 more almost exactly a year later just goes to show how hot the Pokemon market was back in 2021.
This card was only awarded to the third-place winners in the regional qualifiers for the Lizardon Mega Battle in Japan in late 1997 & early 1998. There are only 15 copies known to have been officially awarded, making these trophy cards one of the most coveted in the hobby.
This card portrays Tsunekazu Ishihara, the president of The Pokemon Company, accompanied by the Pokemon Rotom and a Master Ball. It was originally distributed to The Pokemon Company employees to celebrate the his 60th birthday in 2017 and is signed by Ishihara in black ink.
This ‘Zard has everything a collector could possibly want. It’s a PSA 10 of the iconic fire breathing dragon, autographed by the person responsible for bringing the character to life, Mitsuhiro Arita. It was released two years before the English sets came out, and has no 1st edition stamp below the illustration. The Japanese No Rarity version is also missing the black star on the bottom right corner of the card.
There are only 7 pSA 10s of this card in the population. Good luck finding another one!
At number 6, we have this beautiful SGC 10 Gold Label 1st Edition Charizard. The 1st Edition Base ‘Zard is the top English card to own, and is one of the most recognizable and iconic collectibles worldwide.
There is a huge difference in value between an SGC 10 Gold Label and a regular SGC 10 – similar to a BGS 10 Black Label – which is reserved for what the grading company believes to be a perfect, completely flawless example of the card. Not all 10s are created equal!
Now we dive in to the Pikachu Illustrators.
The term “holy grail” is tossed around way too often in this hobby, but this card can rightfully claim to be exactly that. Illustrated by artist Atsuko Nishida, the original character designer of Pikachu for the Game Boy games, the Pikachu Illustrator was given to first and second place winners of a CoroCoro Comic drawing contest in January 1998. Only 39 of them were ever distributed, with less than 2 dozen graded by PSA.
Want to know what happens when one is graded higher than a PSA 7? Stay tuned!
For a brief moment in late 2021-early 2022, people were speculating that the 1st Edition Charizard PSA 10 would eventually become a million dollar card. Unfortunately for the people who bought one around that time, the most recently sold copy went for $210,000 but with a population of just 124 combined with the worldwide popularity of Pokemon, I wouldn’t be surprised to see values creep back up in the coming years.
Ah… another Pikachu Illustrator but this time a PSA 8!
The bump from the 7 to the 8 was just over $100,000, as this one sold a year-and-a-half later at Goldin Auctions. Keep scrolling to see how bonkers things get for this card as the grades continue to rise!
This is the only PSA 10 in population amongst the 31 total copies that they have graded. Topsun cards actually pre-date the Pokemon game, and goes back to the characters’ origins in anime. Also of note, the card says 1995 on it, but wasn’t actually distributed until 1997.
How about a CSG card making an appearance this high on the list?! When a Pikachu Illustrator receives a grade this high, it’s going to break the bank.
This card sold just three weeks after the PSA 8 in the #3 spot and fetched quite a premium, bringing in around $200,000 more at Goldin Auctions.
There is only one PSA 10 in existence, so let’s talk about it!