CGC Trading Cards-certified Pokémon Illustrator Potentially Worth Seven Figures Offered by Goldin

Posted on 10/21/2022

After recently being graded by CGC Trading Cards, this rarity known for its incredible value is now for sale.

CGC Trading Cards® recently certified one of the most valuable cards in the entire Pokémon Trading Card Game: a Pokémon Illustrator, Pokémon (1998) Japanese CoroCoro Comics Illustration Contest Promo card. Dubbed “The Swirllustrator” for its coveted double-swirl, the impressive card received a CGC 9.5 grade, with sub-grades of 9.5 for Centering, 9 for Surface, 9.5 for Corners and 9.5 for Edges, making it the highest-graded example of the three in the CGC Trading Cards Population Report.

The card is being offered in a Goldin sale ending October 29, 2022. Online bidding had surged past $300,000 more than a week before the sale.


Click images to enlarge.

The card was submitted to CGC Trading Cards for certification by Blake Martinez, a passionate Pokémon collector and dealer. Martinez is an NFL linebacker who just signed with the Las Vegas Raiders after playing previously for the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. Blake also runs constant streams on Whatnot and has an Instagram account devoted to trading cards called Blake’s Breaks.

In October 1997, Japanese comic magazine CoroCoro Comic announced an art contest. Pokémon fans could send in illustrations of their favorite Pokémon. The top three winners would receive a copy of the Pokémon Illustrator card, along with 20 copies of their illustration featured on an unofficial Pokémon card. 20 other entrants had their illustrations featured in the next CoroCoro Comic magazine as “Special Award” winners and received copies of Pokémon Illustrator, bringing the total number distributed in the first contest to 23.

A second contest was announced in April 1998, this time commemorating the upcoming release of Pokemon: The First Movie later that year. Submitters were instructed to illustrate either Mew or Mewtwo, come up with a card name and submit attacks, move descriptions and any Pokédex and energy data that should be applied. The grand prize winner, along with 8 other contestants, received a copy of Pokémon Illustrator. This brought the total number of Pokémon Illustrator cards in existence to 31.

Finally, a third contest was announced in June 1998 and centered around Pikachu. Contestants would follow the same rules as the second contest, but the subject would be Pikachu instead of Mew or Mewtwo. Eight copies of Pokémon Illustrator were provided to winners, bringing the total to 39. Since this contest, two other unofficially released copies of Pokémon Illustrator have surfaced, bringing the grand total to 41.

The Pokémon Illustrator promo is famous for its astronomical value and rarity. Recently, a copy of the card sold for $900,000 through Goldin. That record was obliterated in April 2022, when social media influencer Logan Paul spent over $5 million on the highest-graded copy, marking the highest recorded private sale for a single Pokémon card in history.

“This is pretty much the holy grail of Pokémon card collecting. It is in Gem Mint condition, one of the finest known. It is gorgeous, stunning, a 9.5 on the 10-point grading scale,” said Matt Quinn, Vice President of CGC Trading Cards. “I would not be at all surprised to see it bring $1 million or more in an auction.”

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