The extremely rare “Pikachu Illustrator” Pokémon card has just sold for $54,970 at auction, making it the most expensive Pokémon card in the world and more than doubling the sale of the first card in the set to be sold.
The “Pikachu Illustrator” Trainer Promo Hologram was designed by Atsuko Nishida in 1998. The nineteen year old card is one of only 10 in mint condition and shows Pikachu holding art implements. It features the word “Illustrator” instead of “Trainer” on the top and is the only Pokémon card to do so. It also is the only card with a unique pen symbol on the bottom right corner in place of a number.
The card was sold at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills California on November 18, 2016 and exceeded expectations for the auction, which was predicted to sell for 50 thousand dollars. The first card of the set was sold for only 23 thousand dollars in the early 2000’s.
The “Pikachu Illustrator” Trainer Promo Hologram was given to winners across three illustration contests in 1998, publicized in CoroCoro Comics; a Japanese monthly manga magazine. The first contest was the Pokémon Card Game Illust Artist Contest where readers submitted their artwork of their favourite Pokémon. Winners were given twenty copies of their design on a card along with the “Pikachu Illustator” promotional card. The second contest was the Mewtwo’s Counterattack Commemoration Illust Artist Contest and the third was the Pikachu’s Summer Vacation Commemoration Illust Artist Contest. Both these contests asked readers to design their own Pokémon card. Entries were judged on the most interesting illustrations and the most creative attacks.
Only 39 copies of the “Pikachu Illustrator” card were distributed and it is unknown exactly how many remaining copies are left. The card is one of only a handful of Japanese promotional cards that feature a double-star rarity, a rating system that only pertains to Pokemon cards.