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$3m Black Lotus overtakes 1/1 One Ring to claim Magic: The Gathering's most expensive card record

Sold at private auction, the graded Pristine 10 Black Lotus reclaims the pricey throne for an MTG legend.

Magic: The Gathering Black Lotus card artwork
Image credit: Christopher Rush/Wizards of the Coast

Welcome back, Black Lotus. Magic: The Gathering’s single most famous card has returned to the top of the expensive cardboard pile thanks to a private auction where someone paid a soul-squeezing $3 million for a copy considered to be in perfect condition.

The news comes from CGC Cards, a grading company that examined the Black Lotus in a crossover submission from Adam Cai of valuables sourcing outfit Pristine Collectibles. Cai’s seven-figure transaction with an online collector who goes by (thanks, Kotaku) re-cemented Black Lotus as the most expensive MTG card ever sold, unseating rapper Post Malone’s $2 million offer for the serialised 1/1 The One Ring card from last year’s Tales of Middle-earth set.

What makes it worth such a gargantuan sum? CGC Cards’ vice president, Matt Quinn, briefly explained why this particular card stood out in a recent Instagram post, saying the card vaulted over every one of the company’s grading standards: “Seeing it in this condition, it is the top of the pyramid when it comes to collectible card games. The condition: top of the pyramid as well.”

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Quinn continued by praising the Black Lotus’ “beautiful centreing, the corners were flawless, the edges were flawless.” This lines up with CGC’s published grading scale that describes 10/10 Pristine - the highest possible grading - as “a virtually flawless card to the naked eye” with no off-centred printing or even tiny blemishes in the ink’s colours. These sort of cards are vanishingly rare because it combines care and luck from the printing process all the way to opening the pack with potentially grubby fingers.

This particular Black Lotus will now disappear into the buyer’s private collection while the rest of the MTG player base continues dreaming of cracking their own retirement plan one day. Rare and expensive cards are often the plaything of ultra-rich collectors - Post Malone has purchased at least two other Black Lotus cards in the past, and YouTuber Logan Paul claims to own several million-dollar Pokémon Trading Card Game cards, including a holographic Charizard worn around his neck during a boxing match.

Part of Black Lotus’ enduring legend is the finite number of undiscovered (and unowned) copies that might still be in public circulation, perhaps tucked away in a shoebox full of booster packs. Quinn doubts that we will see another copy in the condition that CGC Cards recently graded, but the chance of proving him wrong will keep collectors cracking for years to come.

Images: CGC Cards

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