The most prized card in Pokémon has sold once again for a record-breaking price. A PSA Mint 9-graded Pokémon Illustrator, also known as Illustrator Pikachu, sold for $224,500 back in October 2019 through Weiss Auctions. In June of this year, the same card was listed on the Japanese online store, Zenplus for ¥25,000,000 which converts to approximately $233,244. Two weeks later, the prestigious card was purchased by an American buyer making it the highest priced sale on record. The buyer wishes to remain anonymous.
The Illustrator Pikachu is extremely rare and only released in Japan. According to Zenplus, there were only 39 produced. They were awarded as prizes for the “Pokémon Card Game Illustration Contest” sponsored by Corocoro Comic in 1998. The artwork for the card was illustrated by Atsuko Nishida. She is credited as one of the creators of Pikachu. It has the layout of a trainer card with the word “Illustrator” where you would typically find “Trainer.” The main image has Pikachu holding a paintbrush and a drawing of Charmander over a holographic background. According to Bulbapedia, the card text is translated to “We certify that your illustration is an excellent entry in the Pokémon Card Game Illust Contest. Therefore, we state that you are an Officially Authorized Pokémon Card Illustrator and admire your skill.”
Illustrator Pikachu is considered the Honus Wagner of Pokémon cards and it is only 22 years old. PSA has graded a total of 19 with seven of them grading at a PSA Mint 9. Two sales have been recorded within a year of each other with both PSA Mint 9 examples selling for more than $200,000. With only one PSA 10 out there, who knows what value that example will fetch? For now, we can admire how far Pokémon has come in the trading card hobby and look to what new heights are in store for PSA-graded Pokémon cards to come.