15 most rare and expensive Magic: The Gathering cards
Magic: The Gathering is practically its own currency at this point, with no shortage of rare and expensive MTG cards out there to buy, sell and trade. Your old deck could be more valuable than you realise - or it could be full of Mudholes and goblins worth less than the box they're kept in. There's no way of knowing if you'll find the most valuable Magic: The Gathering card until you start looking around, especially considering that at the end of the day... well, it's all just printed card.
Some rare MTG cards are ridiculously expensive, the kind of long-term investment that could justifiably be kept in an armoured vault with attack dogs waiting outside. Fingers crossed you find one of these in your attic; here are the most rare and expensive Magic: The Gathering cards of all time.
Most expensive Magic: The Gathering cards
- Foil Intuition (Judge Promos)
- Mox Jet (Alpha)
- Mox Sapphire (Beta)
- Timetwister (Alpha)
- Mox Emerald (Alpha)
- Underground Sea (Alpha)
- Time Walk (Alpha)
- Volcanic Island (Beta)
- Ancestral Recall (Alpha)
- Mox Ruby (Alpha)
- Black Lotus (Beta)
- Copy Artifact (Beta)
- Lord of the Pit (Alpha)
- Mind Twist (Beta)
- Black Lotus
There are plenty of people who put big money into MTG, and it’s caused some spectacular prices throughout the years thanks to things like the Reserved List. The Reserved List, for those not in the know, is a list of cards that can never be reprinted. Its purpose is to keep the value of certain cards from dropping, but what it’s actually done is caused certain formats to be completely inaccessible to all but the most trust-fundy of people.
That being said, it is fun to marvel at just how valuable MTG cards can become, so we thought we’d take a look at the most expensive cards in Magic: The Gathering.
Now, there are rules here. First of all, all of the prices are taken directly from auction houses or listed on MTGGoldfish for a consistent comparison. That also means we’re taking a look back at the most expensive Magic: The Gathering cards of all time, rather than attempting to nail down any kind of value in the current market.
Thankfully, this leaves us with some all-time classic cards, so it’s likely to be true several years from now - even if the prices themselves change, the content should be accurate. Now then, without any more ado, onto the list.
15. Foil Intuition (Judge Promos)
My gut feeling says I absolutely cannot afford this
Peak price: $4,999.99
This one is very powerful, but interesting enough not to be banned absolutely everywhere. Arguably Blue at its bluest, three mana allows you to hunt down any three cards in your library... but you only get to keep one. Your opponent gets to choose two to go in the graveyard, but that still gives you a lot of power. If they don't know your strategy, you could try and fool them, or just pick three super-cards and watch them struggle to guess which one is least dangerous. And if you're running some graveyard snuffling cards, you can always get the two they made you throw away back.
14. Mox Jet (Alpha)
Peak price: $11,999.99
There’s a lot of Mox cards on this list, but we promised to lay out the most valuable MTG cards - and Mox cards remain ridiculously valuable. This one's a Black mana source, and remains as ridiculously powerful as the rest of its moxy brethren.
13. Mox Sapphire (Beta)
A price tag that’ll leave you blue
Peak price: $14,999
Imagine a Mox Ruby, but make it for Blue mana, and you’ve got everything you need to know here. These two, along with Volcanic Island, all fit in the same colour scheme, and therefore regularly go in the same decks, which is probably why they’re all so highly valued.
12. Timetwister (Alpha)
Let’s twist again
Peak price: $14,999.99
Timetwister costs three mana and lets you shuffle your hand, graveyard and library together and then draw seven cards. Once you’ve managed all of that, your opponent does the same. In essence, it’s an incredibly potent spell that lets you not only draw a whole new hand, but almost reset the game without changing the actual board state. Also, it’s on the Reserved List.
11. Mox Emerald (Alpha)
A lot of green for a bit of Green
Peak price: $16,000
This time around - and in something of a break from tradition - we’re not looking at a Blue, Red or Black Mox, but at Green. That makes this card unique on this list for being the only card on the Reserved List on this list. Wait, no. It’s the only Green card on this list.
10. Underground Sea (Alpha)
Everything’s better, down where it’s wetter
Peak price: $16,999.69
We come to the first of the dual lands on our list. The dual land cycle includes ten lands, each of which represents a different mana colour pairing. Underground Sea taps for either Blue or Black mana with no downside whatsoever. Land is an important part of MTG, and the reason that these ones cost so much is that there is no downside to playing them. Modern-day lands that give you access to multiple colours always have a downside of some sort, that’s just not the case here. Of course, this is also on the Reserved List.
9. Time Walk (Alpha)
Let's do the Time Walk again!
Peak price: $17,000
Now come on, who let this happen? Time Walk is as powerful as it is simple - you play two mana to take a whole second turn after the one you're currently doing. That's a very good advantage, and the fact that it's so cheap to play means you can do a massive amount of setup early in the game, or just a play a big monster and have it get over its summoning sickness before the opponent can do anything whatsoever. This might explain why it's banned in basically every format you can think of.
8. Volcanic Island (Beta)
Burning a hole in your pocket
Peak price: $19,888
Volcanic Island is the only other dual land that ranks among the most expensive MTG cards. Volcanic Island is the Red and Blue land. We think you can agree that with this and Underground Sea on the list, it must mean the combination of Red, Blue and Black must be the best one in Magic - and that means Nicol Bolas is probably right. Yes, this is also on the Reserved List.
7. Ancestral Recall (Alpha)
Forget about being able to afford it
Peak price: $19,999.99
It turns out that gaining access to cheap resources is something that comes at a premium in MTG. Where Black Lotus gives you free mana, Ancestral Recall gives you very cheap card draw. For a single Blue mana, you can choose to draw three cards or make an opponent draw three cards. You’re unlikely to ever actually use the second mode of the spell but, then again, you’re also unlikely to be able to afford this responsibly.
6. Mox Ruby (Alpha)
You’re as likely to afford it as steal it from the Cave of Wonders
Peak price: $20,975
The Mox cycle of cards are a marginally less broken version of the legendary Black Lotus. Each one gives you one mana for no mana but, unlike Black Lotus, can be used multiple times. Mox Ruby gives you Red mana, and has been used in a plethora of decks since they were released. Also, they’re on the Reserved List - it’s at this point that you should be fully aware of how much the Reserved List has bolstered the cost of these valuable MTG cards instead of protecting them.
5. Black Lotus (Beta)
Oh, that Black Lotus
Peak price: $81,000
The chances are that you’ve heard of this card even if you’ve stumbled across this article by some weird coincidence. Black Lotus is an excellent card because for the low cost of zero mana, it gives you three mana. Needless to say, that’s a powerful effect - and, thanks to the Reserved List, it’s not one we’ll be seeing again any time soon. Black Lotus is the poster-card for how expensive MTG can be, and that’s unlikely to ever change. Its Beta reprint is slightly more affordable than the original Alpha, but still ranks as one of the most expensive Magic: The Gathering cards ever made.
4. Copy Artifact (Beta)
Can I copy your homework?
Peak price: $100,000.77
For only two mana, Copy Artifact is an enchantment that lets you copy an artifact. This card might take the prize for having the most on-the-nose name, but it’s a very powerful effect and one that only gets better as more artifacts get released. The pricing of this one might be the most interesting on the list, as it has fluctuated wildly over periods before rocketing past the $100,000 mark. In a shocking departure from the norm, this card is also on the Reserved List.
3. Lord of the Pit (Alpha)
You'll need a hole full of money to afford this
Peak price: $105,000
Like many of the most expensive MTG cards, Lord of the Pit dates from Magic: The Gathering's earliest Limited Edition Alpha set - the first set ever released for the game in 1993. And like the Power Nine - many of which appear on this list, including Black Lotus - it was a rare card in Alpha, meaning that only around 1,008 copies were ever produced.
These factors have helped make Lord of the Pit one of Magic: The Gathering's most valuable cards in recent years, with a copy graded at a flawless Pristine 10 condition selling for $105,000 in January 2023 - smashing the previous record amount paid for a Gem Mint 10 copy of the card in September 2021 by almost $100,000. The latest card is one of only three reported to be in perfect condition, explaining the stagging price tag.
Auction house PWCC, which sold the expensive card, claims that the sum makes Lord of the Pit the second-most valuable MTG card after Black Lotus. While that may be true at auction, public sales via MTGGoldfish rank at least one card higher...
2. Mind Twist (Beta)
Do the twist
Peak price: $208,940.97
This is a fun one; Mind Twist is a card that can be used to make your opponent discard their hand. It’s not an obviously powerful effect and, on its own, it’s not all that great. However, thanks to the magic of mana generation like Black Lotus, it means you can potentially destroy your opponent’s hand before they even play anything. That, as it turns out, pretty much wins you the game… most of the time.
1. Black Lotus
The most expensive Magic: The Gathering card of all time thanks to an extremely rare sale
Peak price: $615,000
Black Lotus has long held a reputation as the most valuable Magic: The Gathering card ever made, dating from MTG's very first set, Limited Edition Alpha, released in 1993. Only around 1,000 copies of Alpha Black Lotus were ever printed, with a fraction of that number surviving in a decent condition 30 years later. Regardless, the rare MTG card has managed to outdo its own legendary reputation by selling for over half a million dollars not once, but twice - before having its record broken for a third time mere days later.
A mint-condition Black Lotus sold on eBay in January 2021. The Alpha Black Lotus was especially rare and unique, featuring the autograph of the card's original artist and designer Christopher Rush on its protective plastic case. The autograph was itself given a perfect 10 Gem Mint rating by card grader PSA - one of only six Black Lotus cards to be rated at the flawless condition.
The final $511,100 sale price made the autographed Alpha Black Lotus the most expensive Magic: The Gathering card ever sold at auction, before that staggering record was then broken again in March 2022, after another Gem Mint 10 copy of Alpha Black Lotus featuring Rush's signature sold for $540,000.
Just eight days later, an artist proof for the Black Lotus from MTG's Limited Edition Beta set - the game's second-ever release - outsold both Alpha Black Lotus cards, fetching $615,000 at auction to become the most valuable Magic: The Gathering card ever sold at auction.
The card graded at a 'Near Mint/Mint+' 8.5 by CGC was autographed directly by Rush - unlike the signed protective cases of the previous record-setting cards - and featured a blank card back in keeping with the 'whiteback' artist proofs provided to MTG illustrators. Claimed to be the first-ever Beta Black Lotus artist proof to appear at auction, the card has a strong claim to being the rarest and most valuable MTG card of all time.
While autographed cards are especially rare, even non-autographed versions of the Alpha Black Lotus fetch serious amounts, with MTGGoldfish estimating a peak value of $60,000 at the time of writing.