What are the Most Expensive TCG Cards of all time?

April 29, 2024
Altan Insights

We compiled the all-time auction price records for TCG Cards as of September 25th, 2023. Be sure to check back as we update the list as new records are set!

What are the most expensive Trading Cards ever sold at auction?

12. 1996 Pokémon Japanese Base Set Holo Charizard - No Rarity - #6 PSA 10 - $324,000 - April 16, 2022


The Japanese Base Set No Rarity Charizard card is an iconic Pokémon treasure, and its depiction of the dragon Pokémon has reached significant cultural relevance outside of the game. This card, depicting maybe the most famous Pokémon of all time—Charizard, is among the earliest and most coveted copies ever produced. Designed by artist Mitsuhiro Arita, the card's beautiful artwork and holographic finish have made Charizard the most iconic character in Pokémon.

Unlike the English ‘Base Set's 1st Edition’ stamp, which is prominently displayed below the left-hand corner of the artwork, the ‘Japanese Base Set No Rarity’ version is differentiated by the absence of the black rarity star on the bottom right corner. Released two years prior to its English counterpart, the Japanese version of the Base Set showcases the beloved dragon against starlit holofoil pattern—as opposed to the dimmer standard holo foil used by Wizards of the Coast in their later base set.

Only 32 copies of this card graded PSA 9, and just 7 have achieved the coveted PSA 10 designation. With its immaculate edges and corners, as well as a near-pristine holographic surface, this copy stands out as a truly exceptional specimen. Further adding to its allure, the case of this card has been hand-signed by the artist. Is there a better duo than the TCG community and signing the case?

11. 1999 Pokémon Base Set 1st Edition Shadowless Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10 - $349,995 - April 27, 2021


Get used to seeing Charizard on this list—I won’t spoil how many times he appears, but this will not be the last time he appears.

Though this card does differ markedly from the above. This is the original printing of the card in English; still using a similar image of Charizard from artist Mitsuhiro Arita, albeit with a slightly less flashy background.

As Charizard cards go, it does not get much better than this one. Beautifully centered, pristine corners and edges, the card is among 123 PSA 10 graded first edition Charizard cards. Which is out of a total of 3,884 total graded; just over 3% of graded first edition Charizards are of similar quality.

10. 1999 Pokémon Base 1st Edition Holo Thick Stamp Shadowless Charizard #4 PSA 10 - $350,100 - December 12, 2020 - PWCC

Here he is again, what did I tell you? First Edition Charizard cards are going to continue appearing on this list. People like dragons, what can we say!

The card’s equivalent in other categories would be cards like ’86 Fleer Jordan or ’52 Topps Mantle. Iconic pieces of cardboard depicting legendary figures. Though in our case, the legendary figure is fictional.

9. 1998 Pokémon Blastoise Commissioned Presentation Galaxy Star Hologram CGC 8.5 - $360,000 - January 14, 2021


In 1998, American game publisher Wizards of The Coast was intent on acquiring the rights to Pokémon. During this process they commissioned multiple English mockup cards to show what the franchise’s cards would look like in North America.

Today, four of such cards are known today. Three that feature Blastoise against a non-holo background. And the one we have here, CGC 8.5 graded Holo Blastoise with a blank back. The other three cards had “Magic: The Gathering” Backings (the game that WoTC had been producing for many years prior).

CGC, as well as others in the industry, performed an exhaustive investigation into the voracity of these cards. They determined that all four were printed by WoTC in 1998 to market Pokémon cards to north American consumers.

The value definitely fits in accordance with the rarity and story behind this card. It is possible that this card was the very first Pokemon card printed in English. Before the onset of Pokemon-mania.

8. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Holo Illustrator Pikachu PSA 7 NRMT - $375,000 - February 27, 2021 

(Cert# Deactivated by PSA “due to its use on a known counterfeit in the market)


Coro Coro, a Japanese Magazine held a comic drawing contest in January 1998, 39 winners were sent copies of the now infamous “Pikachu Illustrator Card”. Designed by Pikachu’s creator, artist Atsuko Nishida, the card has become the holy grail of Pokémon TCG collecting.

This copy is a PSA 7, funnily enough there are 7 similarly graded copies—as well as 9 graded higher. These cards change hands so infrequently that even a PSA 7 coming to auction is a rare event.

Like many others in this list, the value of this card comes from a number of factors. Fans’ love of the games mascot, the extreme scarcity of these cards, as well as the endearing story of 39 children being rewarded for their creations with a unique image of maybe the most celebrated character in the history of animation.

7. 1999 Pokémon Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition Holo Charizard #4 PSA 10 - $420,000 - March 19, 2022


Here he is again, folks. I told you he would be back.

Not much to say that has not been said above on this 1stedition Holo Charizard card. A beautiful example of a legendary character—and so on, and so on.

Charizard has been featured on over 40 different cards from various sets in the series. It is obvious that his fame is on par with the brand itself. Pikachu may be the mascot of Pokemon, but Charizard holds a similar place in the heart of fans and collectors alike.

6. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Promo Silver 2nd-2nd Tournament #2 Trophy Pikachu - PSA GEM MT 10 - $444,000 - September 6, 2023


Presented as the second place prize to a series of 1997-98 Japanese Pokemon TCG tournaments, it is rumored that only 14 copies of this card exist. Each runner-up of each of these events received one, but today? There are only five that exist in the PSA pop report. This example is one of two GEM MT 10 grades, along with two PSA 9s and one PSA 6. 

Aside from the interesting backstory and scarcity, another factor propelling this card’s valuation is its artist. Drawn by Mitshuhiro Arita the prolific Pokemon TCG artist known for his work on the 1999 base set Charizard.

This confluence of factors have made this card become among the most sought after cards in the game. 

5. Pokémon "Pikachu" Illustrator Unnumbered Promo CoroCoro Comics CGC Trading Card Game - CGC Gem Mint 10 - $495,000 - September 23, 2023


The previous Pikachu Illustrator in this list, a PSA 7 copy, sold for $375,000 in the throes of the bubbliest moments in TCG; it only found a price $100,000 less than this CGC 10. 

Of the 39 of these cards we know to be printed, we were able to find 37 in population reports: 26 graded by PSA, 9 graded by CGC, and 2 graded by BGS. Just five of those received GEM MT 10 grades, four at CGC and one at PSA. The PSA copy was the highest valued TCG card in existence, when it was privately sold to Logan Paul for $5,275,000 in 2022.

The sale of this nearly half-a-million-dollar card is evidence that the value of grails can hold up even in uncertain economic climates.

4. 1993 Magic The Gathering MTG Alpha Black Lotus R A AUTO PSA 10 - $511,100 - January 27, 2021


“The Alpha Black Lotus” is the cream of the crop when it comes to Magic cards. This particular card, graded as PSA 10 Gem Mint, surpassed all other TCG card price records at the time with this eBay sale.

The bidding for this extraordinary card reached incredible heights, eventually selling for an astounding $511,100. The Alpha Black Lotus Masterpiece is a testament to the enduring legacy of Magic: The Gathering as one of the most influential and beloved TCGs of all time.

It bears the signature of the artist who drew the image of the Black Lotus, Christopher Rush. A prolific illustrator within the series, cards with his signature are especially valuable due to his stature in the scene.

Showcasing the elegance and mystique of the Alpha Black Lotus, this PSA 10 Gem Mint card is an unparalleled treasure in the world of TCG. Combining artistry, history, and rarity, the Alpha Black Lotus Masterpiece firmly establishes its position as the fourth most expensive trading card of all time. As a symbol of Magic: The Gathering's enduring impact and appeal, this exceptional card is a prized addition to any collector's portfolio, and an unforgettable piece of TCG history that will continue to fascinate enthusiasts and investors for generations to come.

3. 1993 Magic The Gathering MTG Alpha Black Lotus Auto PSA 10 - signed on case by Christopher Rush - $540,000 - March 16, 2023


Behold, the one card that keeps coming back to enchant us all: the Alpha Black Lotus. As if we hadn't gushed enough about this card already, it seems that Magic: The Gathering (MTG) collectors just can't help but dig into their pockets and to show their love for this piece of TCG history.

This particular gem of an Alpha Black Lotus boasts not only a PSA 10 GEM MINT grade but also a signature by the late Christopher Rush on the case, making it an extraordinary piece of MTG memorabilia. It's easy to see why so many desire to possess a fragment of the enchantment that has sparked the creation of numerous other TCGs, most notably the beloved and recurring list favorite, Pokémon.

2. Magic: The Gathering Artist Proof Black Lotus Limited Edition (Beta) CGC 8.5 - Signed by Christopher Rush - $615,000 - March 24, 2023


Feast your eyes on yet another astounding Magic: The Gathering gem – the Artist Proof Black Lotus Limited Edition (Beta). For those of you at home who have been keeping count, this marks the third Black Lotus card on our list, solidifying its status as the magical flower that just keeps on giving.

This card is a so-called artist proof, similar to the blank-backed Blastoise above in the list, it was created so that the team could better understand how the card would come together in a final product. This is to say that the card was not designed for mass printing, making it all the more rare—and therefore all the more valuable. Like others in this list much of the allure of this card comes in the form of a signature, specifically, the signature of Christopher Rush (this time directly on the card, thankfully), the legendary artist responsible for over 100 cards in the MTG series. Graded by CGC with a "blue" label and a NM/Mint+ 8.5 rating, this card is a gorgeous example of the simple beauty that is present in so many MTG card images.

The past three in the list have been the only non Pokemon cards represented here. Obviously MTG is a powerhouse brand in its own right, but to compete with Pokémon they all required an artist signature to push them up to the top. MTG folks cannot seem to get enough of this Christopher Rush guy.

Sign it on the card, sign it on the case, if your name is Christopher Rush, you can sign it any old place!

1. 1998 Pokémon Japanese Rare Holofoil Illustrator Pikachu – The Swirllustrator Pedigree – CGC 9.5 – Pop 1 - $672,000 - October 10, 2022


In the world of Pokémon, there's no denying that Pikachu is the most beloved and iconic mascot. With its rosy cheeks and happy-go-lucky demeanor, Pikachu has captured the hearts of millions. And with this card, it seems Pikachu's charm knows no bounds, propelling it to the heights of Pokémon card value.

The Swirllustrator Pedigree, graded CGC GEM MINT 9.5, is the only card of its kind at this tier, making it a truly exceptional piece. Just like the Artist Proof Black Lotus Limited Edition (Beta) card we mentioned earlier, this Pikachu card comes with a special touch – a "doubleswirl" variant that is somewhere between an intended variation and a misprint, resulting in a unique alignment of the foil background. If you inspect the left of the image you will see a cluster of stars (or a swirl) that does not appear in standard illustrator Pikachu cards. The CGC has even certified "The Swirllustrator" as the official pedigree of the card, further amplifying its rarity and appeal.

As you may recall, another example of the Illustrator Pikachu card made an appearance earlier on this list. This specific card, however, stands out not only for its unique double swirl but also due to its grade being a CGC 9.5—nearly perfect. This card perfectly captures the spirit of the Pokémon franchise and the enduring resonance of its most iconic character.

Whether you're an MTG fan with an appreciation for Christopher Rush's signed creations or a die-hard Pokémon fan on a mission to catch 'em all, one universal truth stands: the fascination with trading cards transcends the confines of their respective games and unites collectors in their shared pursuit of exceptional and eye-catching treasures.

What are the most expensive sales outside of auction houses?

1998 Pikachu-Holo Illustrator Nintendo Pokémon Japanese Promo - $5,275,000 - July 2022- Private

Private sales usually account for the highest end of sales in every collectible category, but since these sales are usually unconfirmed without hard data, we elected to leave them off of the main list.

The purchase of this card in particular was documented by renowned youtuber and less-renowned boxer, Logan Paul. If you are curious as to how he obtained this card. Look no further.

Magic: The Gathering Limited Edition (Alpha) Black Lotus (CGC Pristine 10) - $3,000,000 - April 2024 - Private

The power of CGC's "Pristine 10" grade was on full display in April of 2024, as a coveted Black Lotus earning that esteemed grade sold privately for $3,000,000. That's the highest price ever paid for both a Magic: The Gathering card and a CGC-graded card. Pristine 10s are considered "virtually flawless" to the naked eye, in contrast to regular, Gem Mint 10s which are generally lacking in one criteria.

2023 MTG Lord of The Rings The One Ring Tales of The Middle Earth 1/1- $2,000,000 - August 2023- Private

A collector named Brook Trafton pulled 'The One Ring' card, which was bountied at $1 million by Dave & Adam's card world. He got it graded by PSA, where it received a grade of MINT 9. Shortly thereafter, Trafton found himself selling the card for double that sum to none other than Post Malone. $2 million for a Magic card sets it as the second highest price in TCG of all time. As it is a private sale, we didn't include it on the list itself.

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