Rare Pokemon card sells for record $54,970 at auction

An extremely rare Pokemon trading card - the "Pikachu Illustrator" - was purchased for a record $54,970 (AUD$74,560) at auction.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions said the card, of which 39 were ever made, sold to an unidentified Hong Kong collector at Saturday's auction in Beverly Hills.

"The Pikachu Illustrator card was given in January of 1998 to winners of the CoroCoro Comic Illustration Contest," Michael Halperin, a spokesman for Heritage Auctions, told AFP.

He said only 10 of the cards are known to be in mint condition and it is unclear how many are still privately owned.

The rare card sold for a record $54,970 (AUD$74,560). Photo: ABC

The seller decided to auction the card after the success of the Pokemon Go app. Photo: AFP

The 'Pikachu Illustrator' first sold in the early 2000s for around US$23,000 (AUD$31,197), Halperin said.

The card, considered the most valuable and iconic Pokemon card among collectors, was designed by Atsuko Nishida, one of the chief Pokemon graphic illustrators.

The card depicts the fan-favorite yellow rodent Pikachu, holding what appear to be drawing utensils.

It was put up for auction by a private collector in the United States in the wake of the popularity surrounding the Pokemon Go app, which has more than 20 million active users.

Halperin said the seller, who is in his mid-20s and did not wish to be identified, had begun collecting Pokemon cards in his teens.

The rare card was auctioned on eBay several years ago. Photo: Supplied

Earlier this year a 'Pikachu Illustrator' card was for sale on eBay listed at $100,000.

Offers from buyers reached prices of $47,000.

The Pokemon phenomenon first emerged in Japan in 1996 before becoming a global sensation.

News break – November 22