Whether it’s a movie, anime, or video games, Pokemon is always one of the most popular franchises in the world. So popular that it has become the most valuable intellectual property ever. A decent part of Pokemon’s success is thanks to the trading card game that started shortly after Pokemon Red and Blue’s launch.
As with most collectible items, Pokemon cards have their dedicated fan base and their price. In fact, since the trading card game released in 1996, the cards have gone to collect their own “fair” prices. If you have any of the following cards sitting in your collection, be sure to look into banking in on them. For the rest of us, we can look at this list of some of the most expensive Pokemon cards.
Honorable mention: Pre-release Raichu
This card could easily be considered the number one entry on this because of the fact there is no price for it. There are at most 10 prerelease Raichu cards in existence, with no real idea of what condition they are in. The cards are kind of a myth with no true evidence they even exist. The story behind them is they were accidentally printed by then distributor of the Pokemon TCG, Wizards of the Coast, and given to a select few employees.
Supposedly, the way to tell this card apart from any other Raichu card is the “PRERELEASE” printed in the bottom right of the monster’s image, but none of the cards have ever been put up for sale and Wizards of the Coast deny their existence. Reportedly, a staff member revealed an image of the card in 2006, but some question its authenticity. If you look online, some websites value it at $10,000. Still, given the small amount available and how some call it the “holy grail” of collectible cards, I wouldn’t say there is a real value you can put on this card until it is put up for sale and legitimately purchased.
10. Japanese gold star Espeon
Value: over $1,000
This card features a shiny Espeon and was only obtainable through the Pokémon Players Club from 2005 to 2006. To get it, you had to reach a high amount of points in a limited amount of club activities. The English version can usually be seen sold in the $500-$600 range, but the Japanese version is valued at quite a bit higher, going for $3,000 in the highest case, but usually in the $1,000 to $2,000 range.
9. Holographic Shadow-less First Edition Blastoise
The shadow-less cards are a group of early holographic Pokemon cards that has an error in printing where the right side of the monster’s image did not have a drop-down shadow as most do. This error was caught quickly, and any holographic first edition cards with this error can fetch quite a high price.
8. Holographic Shadow-less First Edition Chansey
Another case of the shadow-less holographic cards going for a pretty penny. This Pokemon known for its nursing qualities in the anime is not only rare in-game but hard to find in the real world as well.
7. Holographic Shadow-less First Edition Mewtwo
Mewtwo is one of the most powerful Pokemon made since the game’s inception and also one of the most sought-after cards for collectors. This (once again) shadow-less version could net you over six grand if you have it in your possession.
6. Kangaskhan parent/child promo card
This card was given to winners at a parent/child team-up battle tournament in Japan in 1998. If the duo won enough games, they were awarded this card that holds the original “Pocket Monsters Trading Card Game” logo on the back, a symbol reserved for the rarest cards. Currently, if you look for it on eBay, there is a listing for one over $100,000, but most websites set its value at “only” $10,000.
5. Articuno Tropical Mega Battle
This Articuno card was awarded as a prize during the 1999 Mega Battle Tournament. As opposed to most tournament prize cards, this Articuno is attainable for sale in other versions. When it comes to the original versions of these cards, though, $10,000 is the lowest it has been put up for sale at this point.
4. Holographic Shadow-less First Edition Charizard
Since Pokemon’s inception, Charizard has been one of the most popular monsters in the series. When you were a kid, if you had a holographic Charizard card, you were a legend in the playground. Nowadays, if you have one, you could get up to $100 for that. Not too shabby. If you have one of the first edition cards with the early holographic-only error of having no drop shadow around the image border, you can receive up to $18,000 for that bad boy, but it is usually valued in the $12,000 range.
3. Tamamushi University Magikarp
Anyone who has any knowledge about Pokemon knows about the most useless monster, Magikarp. Usually, the only move it knows is “Splash,” which sees it flail around and do nothing. Having it in your party is essentially a handicap until you evolve it into Gyarados. This special Magikarp card was a promotional card that saw minimal distribution at a Japanese tournament in the late 1990s. There are at most 100 of these cards left in the wild.
2. Trainer No. 3 Trophy Card
Value: Over $60,000
The Trainer No. 3 card was given to the player that came in third place at the 1999 Super Secret Battle Tournament and granted them automatic entry into the following year’s tournament. This card is one of a kind but unfortunately has been lost in the mail after being bought on eBay for over $60,000.
The card’s seller had shipped the card using the United States Postal Service, who were then supposed to pass it off to the Dubai-based courier Aramex, who, in turn, would deliver it to the buyer. According to every party involved, the card never made its way to Aramex. It is unknown where the card’s whereabouts are now, or if it was stolen. If a USPS employee stole it, it would be nearly impossible to make money off the card since it is the only one in existence.
1. Pokemon Illustrator
The Pokemon Illustrator card was given out to 39 contest winners in Japan in 1998, and there are expected only to be 10 left in the wild. The card features a Pikachu holding art utensils and was first sold at an auction for $55,000 in 2016. Since then, the value of the card has increased dramatically and is the most expensive Pokemon card that has been sold yet. According to Kotaku, one of these cards sold in October 2019 for a listed price of $195,000 and after buyer’s premiums came out to $224,500.
There are many knockoffs in the wild (if you see it printed in English is an easy way to tell its validity), but a true illustrator card is sure to grab a small fortune.