Spurred on by social media hype, Logan Paul, and cryptocurrency speculators flush with cash, the market for Pokémon cards is exploding. Now Heritage Auctions — the same auction house that sold a rare Nintendo PlayStation in March — has an unopened box of first edition cards up for sale. Pre-auction bids are closing in on $300,000. The final auction will take place Nov. 19-22 in Texas.
While the market for Pokémon cards has been simmering for the better part of a year now, things really kicked off in October when rapper Logic dropped $183,812 (more than $220,000 if you include the buyer’s fee) for a gem mint condition Charizard. Shortly thereafter, Logan Paul released a video of himself laying down $150,000 for a similar card with a collector named Gary, famous for getting lowballed on Pawn Stars.
That alone got fans digging in their attics for their old Pokémon card collections. However, things took a turn when, on Oct. 27, speculators gathered for a $375,000 deal for an unopened box of first edition cards live on YouTube. The deal, which had been brokered by Jake “JBTheCryptoKing” Greenbaum, fell through when the unopened box turned out to be a resealed box of mostly worthless cards.
Normally, individual cards that go up for sale — be they baseball cards, Magic: The Gathering Cards, or Pokémon cards — are graded by a third party organization to verify their authenticity. That’s simply not possible for these unopened boxes, which were factory sealed by Wizards of the Coast in the 1990s. But it’s easy to re-shrinkwrap a box of worthless cards, and that’s just what happened to Greenbaum.
So... is the box of cards up for auction later this month in Texas authentic? The listing at Heritage Auctions doesn’t make it clear, and also does not indicate that any professional grading has been done.
“A Pokémon First Edition Base Set Booster Box that’s sealed in its original shrinkwrap is the pinnacle of Pokémon box collecting,” says the page at Heritage Auctions. “Since the cards haven’t been handled, they are likely all in GEM MINT condition.”
That seems to indicate that not even Heritage is 100% certain that there are first edition cards inside. Polygon has reached out to the company for more information.