Everyone knows old Pokémon cards are incredibly hot right now, but nobody knows exactly what they’re worth to collectors. Exhibit A: Someone put a holographic Illustrator Pikachu in near-perfect condition up for auction on eBay with a starting bid of $480,000, and it went over like a lead balloon.
A Japanese promo card released in 1998, Illustrator Pikachu is considered one of if not the rarest, and thus most valuable, Pokémon trading cards. Only a couple dozen of them are known to exist, and one sold for $224,500 via Weiss Auctions back in 2019. Another sold for $375,000 on eBay back in 2021. Last year, Logan Paul claimed to have spent over $5 million to acquire one so he could wear it to WrestleMania and broadcast to the whole world how little money means to him.
In an era when collectors’ markets for all types of vintage memorabilia are out of control, it seemed like the sky was the limit for the Pikachu with the paint brush. Apparently the limit was actually $480,000 in a public auction. That’s how much “longtime eBay seller and passionate Pokémon fan” Tomoya Ohno asked for a “PSA 8”-condition Illustrator Pikachu on that auction platform earlier this month.
eBay sent out press releases and everything to hype up the occasion as the company is trying to cash in on collector speculation. A lot of sites covered the announcement of the auction, which began on February 24 and ran through March 6. When all was said and done yesterday, the Illustrator Pikachu received a whopping zero bids.
“eBay is working closely with the seller of this rare Pokémon Illustrator card, and we can keep you informed should the card be re-listed,” a spokesperson for the PR firm repping the auction told Kotaku in an email.
As the ancient eBay adage goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, re-list and try again.”
It’s hard to know how much of that is the overall market for expensive Pokémon cards cooling off or just a reality check on the high end of the market where interest and prices are driven by the flush pocketbooks of just a few individuals. New sets are still all the rage among fans, and The Pokémon Company is looking to tap into lapsed collectors’ nostalgia later this year when it re-releases the original holographic Charizard, Blastoise, and Venusaur from the base set. A shadowless version of Charizard infamously sold for $420,000 last year.