What are the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards ever sold?

Gotta catch 'em all (if you have the money).

Screengrab via Logan Paul

The Pokémon Trading Card Game has released thousands of different cards over the past two decades and its multiple iterations. And, while most of the cards are readily available to those looking to add them to their collection, only the wealthiest of collectors can acquire some of the rarest cards out there.

For those avid collectors looking to find these rare Pokémon cards, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars to get your hands on just one of them if you’re lucky enough to find one. A binder containing all 102 original base-set Pokémon cards, for example, was evaluated at $5,000 to $10,000 on the popular PBS television show Antiques Roadshow.

The increased interest in the Pokémon TCG and collecting the iconic creatures leads to many wondering what rarest and most valuable Pokémon cards out there are? Well, we’ve scoured the internet to find some of those cards to let you know exactly how expensive they are at their peak.

Related: The 15 best Pokémon cards of all time, ranked

Galaxy Star Holo – Commissioned Presentation Blastoise

One way to instantly up the value of a Pokémon card is finding out it is near one-of-a-kind, which is exactly what the Wizards of the Coast Galaxy Star Holo – Commissioned Presentation Blastoise is.

Printed in 1998 for use as presentation centerpieces ahead of the launch of the original Pokémon TCG Base Set in 1999, this Blastoise is coveted because it appears in artwork that is in the exact same style used on the original cover for Pokémon Blue. Only four copies of the card have ever been graded, according to the CGC, and a copie rated near-mint 8.5 with a likely one-of-a-kind blank back sold for $360,000 in January 2021.

Black Star Ishihara GX

Image via The Pokémon Company

Tsunekazu Ishihara is the current president of The Pokémon Company who has worked with the series since development began on the original titles. And, to celebrate his 60th birthday in 2018, a special Pokémon promo card was created using his likeness, Rotom, and a Master Ball. Only eight of these cards have ever been graded.

The limited-edition Black Star Ishihara GX promo card was only given out to a few people within TPC, and any variant of it would pull a pretty penny if it hit the market. An autographed, PSA 7 version of the card has, however, currently set the standard, selling for $247,230 in April 2021, while PSA lists the average value of the card at around $134,900.

20th Anniversary Gold Pikachu Card

Image via The Pokémon Company

It’s a Pokémon card that’s forever framed in a special case. The card is also made out of 24k gold after The Pokémon Company collaborated with Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka to bring to life a special version of the base set Pikachu card, via a special lottery in 2016.

Originally priced at around $2,000 when they hit the market, the limited edition, solid-gold Pikachu card typically sells for upward of $9,000, with some of the most recent auctions taking place in 2019.

1998 No. 1 Trainer First Place Pikachu Trophy

Image by Goldin Auctions via The Pokémon Company

The Trophy Pikachu cards were given out as prizes to TCG players competing in various top-level Pokémon TCG events over the years, but there’s a specific draw to the prize from the 1990s.

These cards are so rare and hard to find that they’re effectively priceless. Only printed in Japanese, a mint version of this card is so highly coveted that players only ask for ridiculous returns for them. The 1998 No. 1 Trainer has been listed on eBay but has been marked up from the expected price of $70,000 all the way to $450,000. These numbers can also apply to basically every trophy card to exist in a limited fashion from big tournaments or promo events as long as they are in decent condition.

Master’s Key Prize Card

Image via The Pokémon Company

Selling for more than $10,000 when they hit the market, The Master Key card is another prize card that’s highly sought after by collectors. This card was awarded to all the competitors from each age division in the TCG and VGC events at the 2010 Japan World Championship.

Only 34 cards of this specific version were printed and it can sell for between $21,000 and $25,000 according to the most recent auctions involving this card. That number is likely much higher now if one of these limited cards turned up at an auction now.

Family Event Kangaskhan Promo

Image by PSA via The Pokémon Company

Another rare Japanese promo card, this Kangaskhan was given to parent and child duos who participated and placed well in a family tournament in 1998. And, with only 11 Gem Mint 10 copies in circulation from PSA, this is another highly sought-after collector’s piece.

Most recently, a copy of the Family Event Kangaskhan sold for $150,100 in October 2020, with that value likely increasing to well over $200,000 in the current market.

Neo Genesis Lugia First Edition

Image by PSA via The Pokémon Company

Once you get out of the Base Set or some side sets, you likely won’t be finding a card from an actual sealed product worth more than a First Edition Lugia out of Neo Genesis. Currently, there are only 41 Gem Mint 10 variants of this card in circulation from PSA.

The prize card out of Neo Genesis, this Lugia at PSA 10 can sell for anywhere between $47,000 and $145,000 depending on where you look, with the most recent high hitting $144,300 in May 2021.

Holographic Shadowless First Edition Base Set Charizard

Image via The Pokémon Company

What do you get when you combine one of the world’s most popular Pokémon, a holographic card, and a host of errors that are a treasure trove to card collectors? You get one of the rarest cards to hit the market.

The reason for its rarity is that it’s a holographic card that has an error known as “Shadowless,” which means that it’s missing a shadow on the right of the card’s image that’s typically present in the base set holo. Depending on the condition, Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard has exploded in price since 2017, jumping from $55,650 for a PSA 10 that was sold on eBay in 2017 to $420,000 in March 2022.

Pikachu Illustrator Promo Card

Photo via Guinness World Records

The 1998 Japanese Promo Pikachu Illustrator card is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Pokémon card collection goals, as it was originally given to those who had a winning entry in the Japanese Pokémon TCG Illustration Contest in 1997, and only an estimated 39 copies were distributed.

Due to its short print, with only 24 of those cards have been confirmed through PSA grading, the card being illustrated by the original creator of Pikachu, Atsuko Nishida, and the general rarity of it being an older promo, it has become the most sought-after Pokémon card in the world, and for collectors looking to get them all, having one makes you TCG royalty.

The Pikachu Illustrator holds the two biggest price points in Pokémon TCG history, as of May 2022, with YouTuber and avid Pokémon collector Logan Paul having obtained a PSA 10 variant of the card in a trade worth $5,275,000 before debuting it at Wrestlemania. Paul paid $4 million in cash and traded the original seller his own PSA 9 Pikachu Illustrator, which was valued at $1,275,000 to get the deal done.

The largest actual sale for a Pokémon card at auction is also held by a Pikachu Illustrator card, selling for $900,000 in February 2022.

About the author

Cale Michael

Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also use to cover the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.