The Pokemon craze triggered by Niantic's location-based augmented reality game, Pokemon Go, seems far away from fizzling out. Recently in an auction in Beverly Hills on 21 November, an unidentified Hong Kong collector bought a rare "Pikachu Illustrator" trading card for a record amount of US$54,970 (S$78,180).
The card was put up for bidding by a private collector and was soon bought off by 20-something collector. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions said that the card was extremely rare as only 39 were ever made and only 10 of the cards are known to be in mint condition. It is also unclear how many of these cards are still privately owned, reported AFP.
"The Pikachu Illustrator card was given in January of 1998 to winners of the CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest," said Michael Halperin, a spokesman for Heritage Auctions, according to the news agency. "The Pikachu Illustrator was first sold in the early 2000s for around US$23,000 (S$32,711)," Halperin added.
The card also has a unique look. It portrays the popular yellow colour rodent character, Pikachu, holding a paint brush against a green background with a picture of another popular character Charmander.
Pikachu has been an extremely popular fictional character since The Pokemon phenomenon first emerged in Japan in 1996. Several merchandises, from toys to cars, have been designed after the character which is also the mascot of the franchise.
Pikachu is the first "Electric-type" Pokémon conceptualised and it evolves from Pichu and evolves to Raichu.
It was also reported that the Pikachu Illustrator card, designed by one of the chief Pokemon graphic illustrators, Atsuko Nishida, is considered the most valuable and iconic Pokemon card among collectors.