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Holographic Charizard Pokémon card sells for more than $300K

‘It is the 52 Topps Mantle, the 86 Fleer Jordan, the 79 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky of the Pokémon hobby’

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Charizard giving a thumbs up with a pikachu on its shoulder Image: The Pokémon Company
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

In 2020, someone paid $375,00 for an unopened box of old Pokémon cards that turned out to be fake. In 2021, the thirst for vintage Pokémon cards continues: Now, someone’s paid $311,800 for a single, holographic Charizard card, as spotted by Nintendo Life.

The 1999 first-edition “Shadowless” Charizard, with a “PSA 10 Gem Mint” rating, sold on eBay, through PWCC Auctions, for $311,800 after a long bidding war. PWCC Auctions said that there are only 122 cards with the PSA 10 Gem Mint distinction — which means it’s basically perfect — despite 2,600 Charizard cards being submitted for a rating.

“Featuring the highest attack power of any of the original Pokemon cards produced; the ferocity of the artwork coupled with the might of its Fire Spin caused most Pokemon fanatics to use it with pride,” PWCC Auctions wrote. In a YouTube video, a PWCC Auctions representative called it “the single-most important and prolific card in existence.”

“[The Charizard card] is the 52 Topps Mantle, the 86 Fleer Jordan, the 79 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky of the Pokemon hobby,” PWCC Auctions said. “It is one of the most coveted trading cards ever produced. Widely considered one of the holy grails of the Pokemon world, this Flame Pokemon is poised to show continuous returns for years to come and become a premier investment piece for any portfolio to have.”

Pokémon as a franchise has had an incredible impact on culture worldwide. As nostalgia for that era increases, Pokémon cards have continued to rise in value. It’s become trendy for people to buy unopened sets of Pokémon cards to open while streaming on Twitch — a kind of gambling that feels akin to watching people open loot boxes. Heck, some streamers are even opening Pokémon cards on stream just to destroy them.

Recently, McDonald’s celebrated the Pokémon 25th anniversary by tossing Pokémon cards into Happy Meals — and nostalgic adults grabbed them right up.