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Magic: The Gathering Black Lotus card sells for $511,100 at auction

Black Lotus card was flawless and signed by the artist

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A black lotus in a green field, with light streaming in from the upper right corner. Image: Christopher Rush/Wizards of the Coast
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

A rare Black Lotus, the most prized Magic: The Gathering card ever made, sold Wednesday for $511,100. That’s more than three times the price paid for a similar card in 2019, and more than five times what the card was going for in 2018.

Released in 1993 as part of the original Alpha set of Magic cards, the Black Lotus requires no mana to play. The artifact adds three mana of any color to your pool, and is especially prized in-game as it can be used to cast powerful spells very quickly. The card in question has been graded by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), one of the two main organizations to grade Magic cards.

The PSA graded Black Lotus in its case, signed by Christopher Rush. Image: PWCC

What makes this card so special, however, goes beyond the fact that its corners are a bit wider than today’s Magic cards and that its edges are free from chips and scratches. The case this card comes in was signed by artist Christopher Rush, whose style set the tone for this first edition of the world’s most popular collectible card game. Rush passed away in 2016 at the age of 50.

The auction, which was held on eBay, is likewise evidence of the continued upward trend in the value of collectible trading cards. The Pokémon Trading Card Game has been red hot for months now, with the value of cases of unopened, first-edition cards clearing $400,000, and sought-after singles not far off.

Just like trading stocks with your friends on Reddit, trading in collectible cards is not without risk. One deal for $375,000 worth of Pokémon cards went south last year when the case in question turned out to be filled with trash instead.