Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Pokémon craze now looks tame thanks to $13M Yu-Gi-Oh! card auction linked to embezzlement case

Hardened criminals must now be scrambling to buy every Digimon card they can find

Mid-’00s kids mistakenly play with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards instead of using them for their real purpose: Financial speculation.
Mid-’00s kids mistakenly play with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards instead of using them for their real purpose: Financial speculation.
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Over the past few months, we’ve covered stories about Pokémon cards being bought for ludicrous sums, driving collectors and speculators to such wild behavior that places like Target had to stop selling the game in fears of people getting murdered in the pursuit of bits of paper with cartoon creatures printed on them. Somehow, even parking lot brawls over Pokémon now pale in comparison to the story of a recent Yu-Gi-Oh! card auction from a convicted embezzler’s estate that had to be suspended by Chinese authorities after bids reached 87 million yuan or $13.4 million USD.

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The South China Morning Post reports that the Yu-Gi-Oh! card in question was a rare “Blue-Eyes White Dragon” that, despite its honestly kind of crummy illustration of a boring-looking monster, is valued between $31-$46,000 USD. The value is so high because it’s from a limited run of only 500 units. When it went up for sale on an online auction held last Monday, bidding reached $13.4 million within half an hour—a figure high enough that a court in Chuzhou, China shut the whole thing down, citing activity that “is seriously inconsistent with the actual bidding price.” Authorities also said that “malicious behavior is suspected.” Before it reached that point, 18,000 people participated in the auction while 2 million others watched it play out.

Part of the issue is that the card was previously owned by a man named Zhang Yujie, who was “sentenced to life in prison in 2020 after being found guilty of embezzling nearly 70 million yuan (US $10.8 million) from a government fund under his management.” The next day, another item from Yujie’s property—a USB drive—rocketed to $77,000 based on “rumors spread that the drive held crucial information on some Bitcoins that Zhang owned. That auction had to be suspended as well.

Still, Zhang apparently also owned “a PlayStation 4 adorned with gold and diamonds,” so, for anyone else interested in trying to buy something that’s clearly way cooler than a rare Yu-Gi-Oh! card, there’s still hope. At least until we hear whispers that Zhang had a priceless ancient artifact smuggled inside its case and bids reach the multi-millions for that one, too.

[via Kotaku]

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