A Black Lotus card from Magic: The Gathering – considered the most wanted card of Magicand perhaps every trading card game – sold at auction for a record $540,000, the highest ever bid for a Magic card. It’s an impressive figure, though it suggests that the collectible card trading market has stabilized after years of explosive growth.
An almost identical copy of a Black Lotus that sold for $510,000 two years ago. Like the card in the current auction, it received a perfect Gem Mint 10 rating for its condition by the Professional Sports Authenticators, and the box was signed by the card’s illustrator, Christopher Rush. There are only six PSA 10 Black Lotus cards.
So there has been a small increase in value, but nothing beats the tripling of the value of the Black Lotus that took place between 2019 and 2021, when the popularity of trading card games boomed during the pandemic. Some market observers might conclude that Bank of America was right to complain that Hasbro, owner of Magic publisher Wizards of the Coast, printed too many cards and devalued them. Packs celebrating the game’s 30th anniversary contain controversial reprints of rare cards, including the Black Lotus.
The Black Lotus, which dates from Magic‘s first Alpha printing in 1993, is known for its rarity (it had a print run of about 1,100) and its power. It costs no mana to play, but adds three mana of each color to your pool, so it’s a great shortcut to cast powerful spells early in the game. It is one of the “Power Nine,” a set of cards banned from most forms of competitive play due to their overwhelming power.
“This record sale reinforces the Alpha Black Lotus as an investment-grade asset, reinforces its claim as a true work of art and shows exactly how important Magic: The Gathering is for the culture of gaming and card games,” said Jesse Craig, vice president of sales at PWCC Marketplace, who held the auction. “It is extremely unlikely that we will see any of these autographed copies for sale again in the near future. They are crown jewels for a collection. They’re kept under lock and key and treated like the museum-caliber pieces they are,” said Craig, perhaps with a slight exaggeration.
The values of Magic cards are matched only by those of the pokemon trading card game, which is also well broken into six figures. Last year, a 1998 Pikachu Illustrator card sold for an astounding $900,000 (although it should be noted that this is a rare promotional card and not actually playable in the game).
To put these prices in perspective, it is the highest price ever paid for a trading card of any kind $12.6 million, for a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball cardin 2022. In that context, half a million for a Black Lotus seems like a bargain.