- 2200 buyers are ‘watching’ the bid, which ends on 18 September
- Seller Scott Pratte has already rejected 427 bids
Mia De Graaf
09:35 GMT, 9 September 2013
11:22 GMT, 9 September 2013
Die-hard Pokémon fans are grappling to bid thousands of pounds to land the world’s most expensive card, dubbed ‘the holy grail’.
Seller Scott Pratte is demanding a staggering $100,000 (£64,000) for the Pikachu Illustrator Card – one of just six in circulation.
As of today, 2200 buyers are ‘watching’ the bid, which ends on 18 September.
‘The Holy Grail’: The Pikachu Illustrator Card is one of just six produced in the world. The owner has already rejected 427 offers for the collectible which has previously sold for $20,000
‘Gotta catch em all!’: Protagonist Ash with his trusty side-kick Pikachu. The show sparked a craze for collecting the cards to simulate Ash’s quest to attain all 649 pocket monsters. But the Ebay card is one of just six
The savvy owner from Edwardsville, Illinois, is also accepting bids of more than $50,000 – and has rejected all 427 offers so far.
According to eBay statistics, the item is viewed at a rate of 230 people per hour.
The international Pokémon phenomenon is one of the most lucrative animation franchises in history.
Despite diminishing in popularity, the franchise is still running and releasing products, such as the 3D video game, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, to be released in October this year.
POKEMON’S HOLY GRAIL
The Pikachu Illustrator card was invented as a prize for winners of Pokémon’s official illustration contest in late 1997.
The picture is of Pikachu, the most famous monster – a trusty side-kick to protagonist Ash.
It says ‘Illustrator’ at the top, rather than ‘Trainer’ – the only card to do so.
There is also a unique pen symbol in the bottom right-hand corner.
Aside from the heading, all writing on the card is in Japanese.
Only six of these cards exist – one of which is held by the Pokémon Group.
The last recorded sale price for this card was $20,000.
Schools worldwide were forced to bring in strict gambling rules in the late 1990s as children incessantly fought over the collectible trading cards sold in shops, magazines, and fast food meals.
The series, part of the cartoon genre ‘animé’, launched in Japan in 1995.
It follows Ash and his friends Misty and Brock as they fight evil with monsters, ‘Pokémons’, they can store in a small ball.
Each Pokémon has its own special powers and different strengths.
In the show, owners pit their pocket monsters against each other – the winner keeps both.
As the slogan ‘Gotta catch em all’ suggests, the aim is to collect all 649 existing pocket monsters – a battle schoolchildren worldwide simulated using the collectible playing cards.
Among the mass-produced cards, the most expensive, the Charizard, is £100 – although first-edition holographic versions can fetch up to £3,000.
Even Team GB’s judo star Ashley McKenzie admitted he took up the sport after a fight over his prized Charizard card.
All Nippon Airways Co. painted characters from the cartoon on two jetliners – a B767 (foreground) and a B747. They appeared at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport on 2 July 1998, shortly before the craze hit Britain
International phenomenon: Schools had to create strict rules to curb children’s manic enthusiasm for the show
He said: ‘This Charizard was the best card. It was my life back then.
‘I’ve gone to grab his shirt and next thing I knew I was over his shoulder.’
After researching judo moves on the internet, McKenzie returned to reclaim his pricey commodity.
He added: ‘We spoke, we’re friends, I started judo. Obviously I got my Pokemon card back.’
THE CRAZE THAT HOSPITALISED HUNDREDS THEN TOOK OVER THE WORLD
The show was cancelled in 1998 after an incident in which 700 people were hospitalised with epilepsy symptoms
Pokémon, created by Satoshi Tajiri, started as a video game called Pocket Monsters in Japan in 1995.
An instant hit, it was commissioned as a TV series in 1997.
It was temporarily taken off air in 1998 after at least 700 viewers were hospitalised due to excessive use of strobe lighting and special effects in an episode on December 16 1997. People aged three to 58 suffered epilepsy symptoms for more than 24 hours.
After returning to Japanese screens in April 1998, and renamed Pokémon, the series was syndicated to America – and soon became an international phenomenon.
The franchise includes computer games, cards, TV shows, books, stickers, movies, toys, and even vitamins.
The Pokémons were released in ‘generations’.
The first generation, labelled Red and Blue, consisted of the ‘main’ 151 characters. These reside in the fictional region of Kanto – inspired by Japan’s Kanto district.
The second generation, Gold and Silver, introduced 100 more Pokémon in 1999.
Between 2002 and 2010, a third (Ruby and Sapphire), fourth (Diamond and Pearl), and fifth (Black and White) followed – with the sixth set to be released this year.