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Rare Magic: The Gathering Black Lotus up for auction, the last sold for more than $500,000

The auction ends March 16

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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 pristine example of Magic: The Gathering’s Black Lotus, the most sought-after collectible card in all of gaming, is now up for auction. Signed on the case by its artist, the late Christopher Rush, the card has received the highest possible grade — Gem Mint 10. A previous example, also signed by Rush, sold in 2021 for $511,100. The online auction runs now through March 16.

This Black Lotus was first released in 1993 as part of Magic’s Alpha set. The card in question has been graded by Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA), one of the two main organizations to grade Magic cards. When played, it adds three mana of any color to your pool. While it is especially prized in-game to cast powerful spells quickly, the Black Lotus has over the years come to represent the trading card hobby itself.

A gem mint 10 Black Lotus card in a case signed by Christopher Rush. Photo: PWCC
The reverse side of a gem mint 10 Black Lotus card, inside a plastic case. Photo: PWCC

“This is considered to be the greatest Magic: The Gathering card of all time and is arguably the most important issue in the history of trading card games,” said Peter Petipas, Manager of trading card games at PWCC Marketplace — the company that is conducting the auction — in a news release. “Games like Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! would not exist without Magic: The Gathering. And the Alpha Black Lotus is one of the first examples of a grail card in TCGs. The fact that this copy is signed on the case by the legendary Christopher Rush makes it all the more special.”

Trading card games boomed in popularity during the pandemic, with the market for Pokémon cards performing especially well. That has led to several high-profile instances of fraud, including a $375,000 sealed box of Pokémon cards that ended up being filled with trash instead. This auction will be viewed by many as a sign of where the market for Magic cards is heading — especially after limited quantities of Black Lotus reprints were sold in special 30th anniversary packs of cards. Recently an analyst from Bank of America said publisher Wizards of the Coast is simply printing too many cards, putting at risk the continued value of the brand as a whole. Hasbro, which owns Wizards, refutes those claims.

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