pokemon illustrator card split image outside al arab hotel

On 2 April 2022, at WrestleMania 38, it was confirmed that Logan Paul (USA) had broken the record for the most expensive Pokémon trading card sold at a private sale with a coveted PSA Grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card that set him back $5,275,000 (£3,862,424 / €4,477,146).

He was presented with his Guinness World Records certificate backstage by adjudicator Mike Marcotte. 

Paul’s emotion at receiving this accolade was clear, and as the Pokémon card hung from his neck in a bejewelled case, he accepted his certificate proudly. 

But how did Paul manage to get his hands on such a rare card?

His journey started in sunny Italy at Lake Como in June 2021. 

There, Paul purchased a PSA Grade 9 Pikachu Illustrator card from Matt Allen. Allen is a prominent sports card collector, ranging from NFL, F1, NBA cards and more, but also dabbles in gaming cards. 

The transaction cost Paul $1,275,000.

"I have never spent this much money on a physical asset," Paul said during the trade.

"This card cost me more than my ranch. My 84-acre ranch." - Logan Paul

Allen credits "pokemafa", a fellow collector, for selling him the card in order for him to then sell on to Paul – although Paul’s identity was kept secret.

"Special thanks to @pokemafa for moving this piece to me so it could then start its journey to become part of a bigger deal that helped release 'the PSA 10 Illustrator' from a strong collection in Dubai", wrote Allen on Instagram.

"Holding it in person is a whole different experience to seeing it online. I’ve never held one before," said Paul.

Paul’s first step towards the endgame of procuring the ultra-rare PSA Grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator card was complete. 

Next was the small task of getting together $4,000,000 and booking a flight to Dubai.

Thanks to a connection made by collectibles expert Jeremy Padawer, Paul was on route to the UAE to meet with the representative of the collector who owned the PSA Grade 10 Pikachu Illustrator. 

But why is the Pikachu Illustrator so sought after?

In 1998 a small number of these cards, 39 to be exact, were given out to the winners of a Pokémon illustration contest. 

Out of those 39, only 20 have been graded by PSA, a leading card authentication service. Only eight of the Pikachu Illustrator cards have been awarded a PSA Grade 9.

PSA Grade 9 means the card is in near perfect condition, but could have "a very slight wax stain on reverse, a minor printing imperfection or slightly off-white borders."

A PSA Grade 10 card is a virtually perfect card, and attributes include "four perfectly sharp corners, sharp focus and full original gloss".

Only one card in the world has been given this rating – the one Paul was on his way to buy. 

This trade was agreed after five months of negotiation and took place on 22 July 2021.

 Jeremy Padawer and Logan Paul after the trade

The PSA Grade 10 card was part of the Dubsy Collection; the owner of said collection has kept his identity secret, going only by Dubsy. 

A representative for Dubsy shared that his assortment of trading cards and comic books are worth approximately $15 million USD.

However, Paul ran into a small problem upon arriving in Dubai. All the banks were shut due to a national holiday, so Paul was unable to wire the money. Therefore he had to write out an "IOU" (I owe you) on a piece of paper. 

This didn’t seem to put a spanner in the works however, and the time soon came for the card to be given to Paul at the iconic Dubai hotel the Burj Al Arab.

The card was placed in a custom made wooden box with a bespoke leather covering. 

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. What was once thought to once only be a myth, is now sitting in front of me inside of a custom case. Dubsy, you legend." - Logan Paul

logan paul in dubai with pokemon trading card in box

As it’s grading reflects, the 24-year-old card was in practically perfect condition.

"Ah man, it’s literally perfect. You can almost like, feel the energy of this card."

Paul then handed over the Grade 9 Illustrator card, which Dubsy believed to have been part of his collection in the past, and the signed IOU. 

Paul’s mission to secure the rare Pikachu Illustrator card was complete, but the card’s journey was just beginning. 

From Dubai, it travelled with Paul back to the US, who had it decked out with a blingy case and chain.

"It’s held in an $80k custom diamond pendant with a Pokéball bail. This is the pinnacle of Pokémon," wrote Paul on Instagram. 

The card then travelled to the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, USA, to appear at Wrestlemania.

What’s next for the record-breaking card?

Paul announced today he will be listing the card on Liquid Marketplace, a website he co-founded that allows part ownership of collectibles. 

He will, however, retain 49 percent ownership of the card.

Given it’s price tag, it will most likely stay under lock and key for the time being – but with the diamond studded case and chain ready and waiting, we're sure Paul will be sporting the card at another event soon. At his next WWE appearance, perhaps?