What are the Most Expensive Trading Cards?

Here are some of the most valuable cards ever sold. From Pokémon to Baseball, learn about the most expensive cards throughout history and the brands that produced them.

What are the Most Expensive Trading Cards?

Buying and selling trading cards has become more lucrative over time. This can be traced back to the post-Civil War era in the US when baseball cards were first introduced to the public. Since then, more sports have produced their own cards and the products have extended to other entertainment franchises.

Some recent research has estimated the global sports cards market to be worth just under $8 Billion. This data leaves out the market for non-sports trading cards, which is also valued in the billions. There have been other studies and estimates on the global size of the trading card industry and it's clearly a growing opportunity that could be worth tens of billions of dollars over the next five to ten years.


Top Most Expensive Trading Cards

Trading cards have been known to sell at high prices, whether at public auctions or private sales. You can find several types of trading cards on the market. Here is a list of the most expensive cards from the most popular categories and the most popular card brands, at the time of this writing.

Most Expensive Pokémon Card

The most expensive Pokémon card ever sold was a PSA 10 Pikachu Illustrator card purchased by YouTuber Logan Paul for $5,275,000 in July 2021. There is only one known PSA 10 grade Pikachu Illustrator card.

They were originally given as awards in 1997 and 1998 to winners of a promotional Pokémon contest, so there's a pen icon located in the bottom-right corner to represent its creation for the contest.

Most Expensive Magic: The Gathering Card

The Black Lotus card is the most expensive Magic: The Gathering Card. A Black Lotus was sold to rapper Post Malone in 2022. He spent $800,000 on this Alpha Black Lotus card, which also featured a signature from artist Christopher Rush.

Most Expensive Yu-Gi-Oh! Card

Tournament Black Luster Soldier is the most expensive card Yu-Gi-Oh! that has ever been sold. In 1999, the card was given to the winner of Yu-Gi-Oh!'s first ever tournament in Japan. This stainless steel card is the only one of its kind in existence and is reportedly worth $2 Million.

Most Expensive Baseball Card

The 1952 Topps SGC 9.5 Mickey Mantle card holds the title as the most expensive baseball and sports card ever sold. In August 2022, this card was auctioned for $12.6 Million through Heritage Auctions. Mickey Mantle was a hall of fame baseball player for the New York Yankees. This card is in mint condition and was the first Topps card ever produced for Mickey Mantle.

Most Expensive Basketball Card

The Stephen Curry 2009-10 Autographed National Treasures Logoman Rookie card is the most expensive basketball card ever sold. Stephen Curry currently plays for the Golden State Warriors and has won several NBA Championships. In July 2021, the card sold for $5.9 Million, bought by Alt Funds investment group. It's also interesting to point out that Alts bought a majority stake in the card, valuing the card at $5.9 Million, as opposed to the traditional method of buying full ownership.

Most Expensive Football Card

The 2017 National Treasures Shield Patrick Mahomes Rookie card was sold for $4.3 Million. This was sold by PWCC Marketplace and the card was graded an 8.5 by Beckett. Patrick Mahomes is still an active quarterback, currently playing for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Most Valuable Card Brands

Here's a look at the main card brands in the industry. The most prominent sports leagues do not produce cards themselves and instead sell the rights to a variety of traditional card manufacturers. On the other hand, many of the non-sports entertainment franchises like Pokémon manufacture their own cards in-house.


As a historical leader in the card industry, Topps has been producing both major American sports and non-sports cards since 1938. Their classic baseball cards produced between the 1950s and 1980s remain some of the most valuable, including the treasured 1952 Mickey Mantle card.


Panini was established in 1961 by two brothers from Modena, Italy, first producing figurines, stickers, and trading cards. In recent years, Panini’s dominance has increased due to acquiring the exclusive rights to produce basketball, football, and soccer cards. Now Panini is best known for their basketball cards.


In 2022, Fanatics acquired Topps and also obtained the exclusive licenses to produce official MLB, NFL, and NBA cards. With these new licenses, Fanatics will aim to be the most prominent sports cards manufacturer.

Trading Card FAQs

Because the market for trading cards is influenced by several different factors - athlete performance, card rarity, cultural relevance, grading, and more - the list of the most expensive cards is very dynamic. We expect this list to change as more cards are auctioned at potentially record breaking new prices.

Happy collecting!

Trading Card FAQs

Q: What are the most expensive Pokémon cards?
A: The Pikachu Illustrator and the 1999 First Edition Shadowless Holographic Charizard #4 are the most expensive cards.

Q: What are the most expensive baseball cards?
A: The Topps 1952 Mickey Mantle and 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner are the most expensive baseball cards.

Q: What are the most expensive football cards?
A: The most expensive football cards are rookie cards from Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Jim Brown.