Magic: The Gathering was one of the first major trading card games to surface and since its debut 27 years ago, it has continued to reach new milestones as a premier hobby collectible. Everyone in the Magic community knows about the famed Alpha Black Lotus card, but to own one is considered a major feat in itself. On July 22, 2020, this prized Holy Grail item – graded PSA Gem MT 10 complete with the signature of its late artist, Christopher Rush – sold for the astounding price of $250,000. Eye-popping sales like this always seem to have an interesting backstory and luckily both the buyer and the broker who was selling the card on behalf of an anonymous client were willing to share how they have arrived at such a historic amount.
Romuald Fons grew up in Spain and was passionate about fantasy and role-playing games as a child. In 1995, when his cousin introduced him to Magic: The Gathering (MTG), it easily piqued his interest. Soon his friends picked up the game and by playing it every week they pushed him to improve his deck. They would all go to the market each week to play MTG and search for the most powerful cards. Now 25 years later, Fons runs his own marketing company and boasts a YouTube following of 663,000 subscribers. After building up his finances, he set out to acquire the game’s most powerful card and enlisted the help of VintageMagic.com President and CEO, Daniel Chang.
Chang, who resides in Seattle, is no stranger to the card collecting industry and had lots of early exposure to the burgeoning sports card scene. He eventually found his niche in Magic: The Gathering where he has now become one of the voices of the TCG hobby. Through his various relationships with MTG players and fans, he has been able to acquire many amazing pieces throughout the years which led him to eventually cross paths with Fons. With his incredible background in the hobby, Chang has known about cards and their whereabouts that many people may not even know are available. Fons ultimately presented Chang with a budget and the latter was able to find the prestigious card which was actually acquired from overseas. Arriving at a substantial number like $250,000 for the card appeared to be a perfect storm of sorts for both parties and the agreement was reached quickly. Once the details were in place, the sale was made official through eBay.
How could a card reach $250,000, you ask? It all goes back to the beginning and how many were printed. Both Chang and Fons stated that the Alpha Black Lotus was limited to a production run of only 1,100 cards. The primary use of the card was naturally to play the game and beat your opponent. Although everyone wants to summon their most powerful creatures and spells, you cannot do that without playing with mana. The unique Black Lotus allows you to play four mana at a time when you would normally play just one. This immense power and the continued use of vintage cards shuffling through decks has made it difficult for MTG collectors to find a Gem Mint 10 copy. There are seven graded PSA Gem Mint 10 examples currently in the PSA Population report and two of those are signed by the artist. The card Fons acquired sits alone atop the MTG landscape as it is the only one to also receive a PSA 10 grade for its signature. Chang was a frequent patron of Rush’s and pointed out that the autograph on the purchased card is most likely one of Rush’s earliest card signatures, probably penned sometime during the 1993-95 time frame. Rush passed away in 2016. The card is so prestigious that it was also handled by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak once during a special event that Chang coordinated.
Said Chang: “PSA understands the preservation of cards.” He believes the card has vibrant eye appeal with a strong signature and can imagine the late Rush signing it from one of his many encounters with him. This recent $250,000 sale shows trading card games are doing very well in the collectibles industry and show no signs of slowing down. Fons was searching for a Magic: The Gathering card, and he was looking for the best. Now he owns a card that not only carries the prestige of the most sought-after MTG card in history, but one that comes with a collectible legacy that few others ever could.