“What makes it so rare is that it was not sold, but awarded as a prize in an illustration contest through CoroCoro Comic,” an auction description from the $195,000 October sale explains. “This unique card was created specifically for the contest. In the January 1998 issue, three 1st Place winners had a copy of the card, as did another 20 2nd Place winners. With cards awarded in two more contests that year, there were a maximum of 39 copies released.”
This month’s sale happened on ZenPlus and was purchased by an American customer through ZenPlus’ Pokemonmania store, the company said. What makes this card so special beyond it being a part of a contest over 20 years ago is that it features art by the original illustrator of Pikachu, Atsuko Nishida.
The $233,000 card was graded as a Professional Sports Authenticator Mint 9, which means the card is in superb condition with no more than one flaw.
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As for as why someone would want to spend that kind of money on a single Pokemon card, it isn’t due to the card’s competitive nature. The card doesn’t really do much beyond authenticate its recognition as a winner in the 1998 contest.
“We certify that your illustration is an excellent entry in the Pokemon Card Game Illustration Contest,” the card reads, as translated by ZenMarket. “Therefore, we state that you are an Officially Authorized Pokemon Card Illustrator and admire your skill.”
It would seem that whoever purchased this card bought it for the collector’s value as it won’t be doing them any favors in future trading card battles.
Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.