One of the rarest Pokemon trading cards in history was just traded for multiple rare Pokemon cards, estimated to be worth over $900,000 in total value.
The card in question is the Pikachu Illustrator card, a promo card only distributed by Japan's CoroCoro magazine in 1998. The card was a reward for an illustrator contest, which saw young Japanese artists not only receive the Illustrator card, but also a promo card with their winning artwork on it as well. It is estimated that about 39 copies of the promo card were awarded in 1998, with only 19 of them in existence thanks to PSA grading.
One of those 19 cards was involved in a massive trade between two collectors, where the owner of the Pikachu Illustrator (who has remained anonymous) made a deal to trade their card for 9 rare Charizard cards, as well as a set of unofficial drawings from Pokemon TCG illustrator Mitsuhiro Arita.
The 9 rare Charizards include one first edition Charizard card, which recently sold at auction for over $200,000, along with two variants of the first edition Charizard card. The buyer, an Italian-born collector named Marco, also sold a signed promo card of Charizard by Ken Sugimori, a secret rare Charizard from the Skyridge Pokemon set, and the last 1st edition, triple rare shiny Charizard from the Neo Destiny set.
The 9 cards are estimated to be a value of $900,000 at the very least, making this one of the most expensive trades of cards in the history of the Trading Card Game. It has already been a record-breaking year for the TCG, but this massive trade between the two collectors tops them all, technically making the Pikachu Illustrator card the most expensive TCG card in terms of actual value.
While we don't know who the Japanese trader is, Marco did express why he was interested in the Pikachu Illustrator, in an interview at Pokebeach.
"I consider the Pikachu Illustrator, especially in mint condition, to be the holy grail of Pokemon collecting. It’s illustrated by Atsuko Nishida, the creator of Pokemon like Pikachu and Charmander, who we both see on the card. It’s one of the cutest cards ever made. The card’s artwork represents the real meaning of the Pokemon TCG: yes it’s a card game, but it’s 90% about collecting cards! And collecting is all about the artwork! The Pikachu in the artwork is drawing an image of Mew and we also see its other artwork of Charmander. An artistic Pikachu that is created by the illustrator of the artwork itself: it’s pure magic."
There may never be another trade like this again, but considering the amount of value that changed hands, it is unlikely it will ever be topped unless another Pikachu Illustrator goes on the market.