BLACK LOTUS – MTG RESERVED LIST INVESTING

By Brian Cooper •  Updated: 09/20/22 •  14 min read

Black Lotus MTG

CARD NAME:Black Lotus
SET / SYMBOL:MTG Alpha - MTG Beta - MTG Unlimited
YEAR:1993
RARITY:Rare
MANA TYPE:
CARD TYPE:Mono Artifact
ALPHA PSA POPULATION TOTAL:LOW (Total 110) - 25% Graded 9 or better
BGS POPULATION TOTAL:LOW (Total 263) - 43% Graded 9 or better
TCGPlayer Market Price (9/2022):$11,500.00
INVESTMENT OUTLOOK:Long Term Hold

The BLACK LOTUS is easily the most recognized card in all of Magic: The Gathering.  And although a small percentage of Magic enthusiasts actually own one, anyone who knows Magic has probably heard of the Black Lotus and would love to own one as well. Myself included!

Black Lotus MTG

The story of the Black Lotus is a cool one.  There are so many questions asked daily about this elusive card and I thought I would make an all encompassing one-stop-shop for all of your Black Lotus MTG questions right here.  So read on and hopefully I’ll tell you something you didn’t know about this great card and maybe push you to seek one out for your collection as well!

So let’s break down the Black Lotus a bit. First we’ll talk about what the Black Lotus is, some history and a bit about why it’s so valuable. From there we’ll talk about values (historical and current) and what you can expect to pay for the most valuable Magic card in existence.

What is Black Lotus?

PSA 9 Alpha Black LotusThe Black Lotus was originally released in the first printing of Magic: The Gathering’s Limited Edition set (referred to as ALPHA) that first hit shelves back in August of 1993. The Black Lotus was a Mono Artifact with zero casting and it gave you three mana of any one color just by tapping the card. After tapping the card for mana (either during your turn or as an interrupt), you then had to discard the Lotus. 

The card was very powerful in the fact that it had the potential to be a game changer (or better yet GAME WINNER) in the first turn of play. If you were lucky enough to pull this card into your hand at the beginning of the game, you could immediately put it into play for no cost and cast spells much faster than your opponent. This would give you a quick leg up in the game for zero cost and many players used this card to single handedly win games, often in one or two turns if you designed the deck correctly.

The Black Lotus was the main card in the “Power Nine” which were nine cards that were determined to be the most powerful in all of Magic: The Gathering. Players back in the day considered the card essential in ANY Magic deck and it became sought after from the very beginning.

But why was a card with a simple flower so powerful?  Why didn’t they have a powerful ring, wand or sword as the most dominant card in Magic? Well, as the story goes, Richard Garfield (creator of Magic: The Gathering) thought that having all of this power contained in a simple flower was something that you would never think of seeing in such a game. To think that a flower was so potent that it could win you the game was something unique and fun and Richard himself loved the idea.

Which MTG Set Has Black Lotus?

The Black Lotus was only printed in a few of the early sets in 1993 before Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) officially retired it to the Reserved List. The card was included in the following releases:

When searching online you will see other versions of the card that were made by WOTC, but the Alpha, Beta and Unlimited are considered THE Black Lotus cards to own.

What is the Black Lotus Collector’s Edition?

Back in December of 1993, WOTC decided to release a complete collectors edition set to the market with a production run of approximately 8,500 to 9,000 sets. All 302 cards from the original set, including the Black Lotus, were included and had gold borders on the back, square corners and had the words “Collector’s Edition” in gold on the back just under the Magic logo. These sets were only released in the U.S. and Canada.

The Black Lotus was included in this set, but is considered more of a collectors item since it wasn’t tournament legal. Most die hard players and collectors (like myself) would rather go after the Alpha, Beta and Unlimited versions because they were the original playable cards. However, that doesn’t mean the Black Lotus Collector’s Edition isn’t valuable. Much to the contrary.

What Other Versions of the Black Lotus Are There?

Besides the Alpha, Beta, Unlimited and Collector’s Edition, the only other Black Lotus card printed by WOTC was the INTERNATIONAL EDITION which was also printed back in 1993. It’s commonly referred to as the ‘International Collector’s Edition’ since it was printed at the same time as the Collector’s Edition in December of that year.

MTG Collectors and International Edition

There were 5,000 International Edition sets printed and those were distributed mainly overseas, although some were also sold in the U.S. and Canada due to production issues. They were printed in English and identical to the Collector’s Edition with the only difference being the back of the card where “International Edition” was printed in gold under the Magic logo.

With only 5,000 sets printed, that would mean there were only 5,000 International Edition Black Lotus cards ever printed. 

What is the Magic 30th Anniversary Edition Black Lotus?

UPDATE:  OCTOBER 2022 – Wizards just announced that they’ll be released a very limited Magic 30th Anniversary Edition set in November 2022 that will include two different versions of the Black Lotus. There will be a modern framed version of the Black Lotus which is gray in color and there will be a much more limited retro framed card which looks very similar to the retro cards from the Time Spiral Remastered set. The retro frame Black Lotus will certainly be more limited and in higher demand as time goes on. 

Magic 30th Anniversary Edition Black Lotus

Although these special cards are not not tournament legal (much like the Collector’s and International Edition Black Lotus cards), they will be highly collectible and prized among collectors for sure. Check out our Magic 30th Anniversary Edition post for more information.

Who Did The Art for the MTG Black Lotus?

Christopher Rush was the lucky guy who will forever have his name printed on the most expensive Magic: The Gathering card ever made, the Black Lotus. That’s because Christopher was the artist who came up with the spectacular art that all know so well.

Christopher was one of the original 25 Magic artists from back in the early days of Magic in 1992-1993 and was actually on the staff at WOTC until 1999 when he left the company to pursue other endeavors. 

Although Christopher is more famously known in the world of Magic: The Gathering for his artwork on the Black Lotus MTG card, something else that I thought was equally important was that Christopher also was the designer for the original mana symbols! Pretty dang cool if you ask me!

Christopher Rush unfortunately passed away on February 10, 2016 at the age of 50.

What Rarity is Black Lotus?

The MTG Black Lotus card is RARE.

In 1993 when Alpha, Beta and Unlimited were released, the set rarity was broken down into Common, Uncommon, Rare and Land. There were 116 Rare cards in Alpha and 117 Rare cards in Beta and Unlimited (the rare Volcanic Island card was not included in the original Alpha release.) The Black Lotus was one of those Rare cards.

Why Is Black Lotus So Valuable?

First and foremost, the Black Lotus is RARE and there were far less rare cards printed (see below for print runs.) As you know, production and print runs are a big factor when it comes to valuing cards and the same goes for the Black Lotus. 

The second reason the Black Lotus is so valuable is because it is one of the most powerful cards when it comes to MTG gameplay. For zero mana cost, a player could tap the Black Lotus and add three mana of any one color to their mana pool which accelerates bringing more cards into the game faster than the opponent. Ask any player….the Black Lotus is a game changer and every color deck could use one.

Finally, because of the first and second points above, the Black Lotus has turned into the most iconic card ever to be printed by Wizards of the Coast. For those of you who know Baseball Cards, the Black Lotus is equivalent to the 1909-1910 T206 Honus Wagner. When you think of expensive sports cards, you think of the multi-million dollar Honus Wagner. When you think of Magic: The Gathering vintage cards, it’s the Black Lotus, bar none.

How Many Black Lotus Cards Exist?

We can only speculate as to how many Black Lotus cards are out there right now, although we can narrow it down based on historical data. We know that over the years, many have researched the topic and we are able to come up with some numbers based on those studies. 

One thing to remember is that you need to factor in how many cards may have been destroyed or thrown in the trash as that will affect the numbers to a degree. No one can ever know how many cards were destroyed but I think it’s accurate to say “some” definitely were.

That being said, we can tell you what we know about the print runs and the consensus is that the following numbers are very accurate for how many Black Lotus cards were printed:

Keep in mind that some of these Black Lotus cards could still be sitting in unopened booster packs and starter decks so the amount of cards actually in the market right now could be very different.

How many Grade 10 Black Lotuses are there?

Below is a chart that we will keep updated showing the PSA and BGS population reports for all of the MTG Black Lotus cards. We’ve added PSA/BGS grades 9 and 10 for comparison.

CardAs of DatePSA 10 PopulationPSA 9 PopulationBGS 10 PopulationBGS 9 Population
ALPHA Black LotusSeptember 2022621167
BETA Black LotusSeptember 2022744499
Unlimited Black LotusSeptember 202229682176
Collectors Ed Black LotusSeptember 2022010015
International Edition Black LotusSeptember 202204014

How Much Is The Black Lotus Magic Card worth?

The values for Black Lotus cards are pretty much all over the map, but I can tell you for sure they are very expensive. Graded versions tend to bring much bigger dollars mainly because collectors and investors are guaranteed to have an authentic Black Lotus. If you plan to purchase a raw ungraded card, make sure you do your homework as there are fakes out there.

It’s very hard to give an overall value of how much a Black Lotus is worth because there are many factors that go into pricing. Those factors include which version/set it’s from and the overall condition of the card. 

We’ll break it down a bit below with some more specifics on values, but overall the Black Lotus is worth minimum in the THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. You’ll most likely never find one much cheaper than a few thousand dollars these days. High graded authentic Black Lotus cards can go for much much more.  Read on for more details.

What is the Cheapest Black Lotus?

The cheapest Black Lotus these days is probably the Collector’s Edition. Graded Near Mint examples of this version can bring $3,000 to $5,000 on average. If you get lucky you might grab one for less.

There’s a possibility you might be able to find a very low grade (or ungraded) Unlimited version for a few thousand dollars if you’re set on only buying an Alpha, Beta or Unlimited playable version. However, it would have to be something in Poor to VG condition to be anything less than $5,000. 

If you’re dead set on owning a Black Lotus but you don’t have endless funds to pay for one, then any condition no matter how bad needs to be an option. I would gladly own a very poor version of any Alpha, Beta or Unlimited Black Lotus just to have one.

What Is The Most Expensive Black Lotus?

The highest price ever recorded for the sale of a Black Lotus was on January 27, 2021 on eBay when a PSA 10 Graded ALPHA Black Lotus sold for $511,100.  This card was extra special as it was not only graded GEM MINT, it was also signed by the artist Christopher Rush. 

PSA 10 Black Lotus 

Was the PSA10 Alpha Black Lotus worth that much? With only a small percentage of the 1,008 Alpha versions printed being in this condition AND signed by the artist (who has since passed away), I would say this particular card is one-of-a-kind and worth every penny and probably more.

Furthermore, with there being only (110) PSA graded Alpha Black Lotus cards in existence at the time of this article, less than 6% of those were graded PSA 10 GEM MINT.  It’s an extremely tough card to find in this condition and I would bet we’ll see this card be the first Magic: The Gathering card to top $1 million. 

How Much was a Black Lotus in 1995?

In February 1995, the magazine “InQuest” (printed by Wizard Press) released their latest edition which included a price guide for all Magic: The Gathering sets up through the release of The Dark. Although there were other publications at the time, InQuest was quite the popular magazine so the price guide was accurate when it came to high/low prices for Magic cards sold in the U.S. at that time.

Here are the prices at that time for the different versions of the Black Lotus:

If you could only go back in time and buy EVERY BLACK LOTUS you could find at $100, you would be a multi-millionaire right now. Hindsight is always 20/20!

InQuest April 1995 Price Guide

What did the Last Black Lotus Sell For?

MTG Black Lotus cards are selling just about every day and week so it’s tough to pinpoint the latest sale. Just last week on eBay, there were three Black Lotus cards sold!

Below is a list of the recent sales going back through 2018 showing the prices for Black Lotus cards sold online. We’ll continue to update this list as we hear about more sales so we can track the Black Lotus going forward.

DATE:CARD:GRADE:SOLD ON:PRICE:
09/17/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusUngradedeBay$3,199.99
09/16/2022MTG Beta Black LotusCGC 5eBay$38,850.00
09/13/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusPSA 3eBay$10,000.00
09/03/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusUngradedeBay$12,500.00
09/01/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusUngraded (Good)eBay$2,950.00
08/31/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusUngraded (NM)eBay$4,425.00
08/28/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusBGS 8eBay$4,450.00
08/21/2022MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 8eBay$13,100.00
08/18/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusCGC 3.5Heritage Auctions$9,360.00
08/14/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusUngradedeBay$14,000.00
08/13/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusUngraded (altered)eBay$3,350.00
08/08/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusUngraded (EX)eBay$9,000.00
07/31/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusUngraded (HP)eBay$9,840.00
07/27/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusCGC 5.5Heritage Auctions$2,760.00
06/12/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 4.5Heritage Auctions$9,600.00
06/11/2022MTG Alpha Black LotusBGS 7Heritage Auctions$87,000.00
06/11/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusCGC 6.5Heritage Auctions$15,000.00
05/20/2022MTG Beta Black LotusPSA 8eBay$11,780.76
05/05/2022MTG Alpha Black Lotus (Autographed)BGS AuthenticHeritage Auctions$46,800.00
05/05/2022MTG Collector's Edition Black LotusCGC 4.5Heritage Auctions$3,360.00
05/05/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 9Heritage Auctions$26,400.00
03/05/2022MTG Unlimited Black Lotus (Autographed)CGC 4Heritage Auctions$13,200.00
03/04/2022MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 9Heritage Auctions$66,000.00
03/04/2022MTG Beta Black LotusCGC 7.5Heritage Auctions$39,600.00
03/04/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 8.5Heritage Auctions$22,800.00
03/04/2022MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 6.5Heritage Auctions$15,000.00
11/26/2021MTG Alpha Black LotusBGS 9Heritage Auctions$156,000.00
11/06/2021MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 8.5Heritage Auctions$42,000.00
07/24/2021MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 6Heritage Auctions$28,800.00
01/27/2021MTG Alpha Black Lotus (Autographed)PSA 10eBay$511,100.00
01/14/2021MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 9.5Heritage Auctions$66,000.00
01/14/2021MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 8Heritage Auctions$13,200.00
08/01/2019MTG Alpha Black Lotus (signed)BGS 9Heritage Auctions$84,600.00
08/01/2019MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 8.5Heritage Auctions$11,100.00
02/27/2019MTG Alpha Black LotusBGS 9.5eBay$166,100.00
02/21/2019MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 9Heritage Auctions$26,400.00
02/21/2019MTG Beta Black LotusBGS 8Heritage Auctions$18,000.00
02/21/2019MTG Unlimited Black LotusBGS 8.5Heritage Auctions$10,800.00
07/25/2018MTG Alpha Black LotusBGS 9.5eBay$87,672.00

How Much Did Post Malone Spend on Black Lotus?

Post Malone, who is a singer, rapper and songwriter, recently told Howard Stern in an interview that he spent $800,000 on a Magic: The Gathering ARTIST PROOF of the Black Lotus. 

There is not much known about the Artist Proofs and very few pictures of them online. But, what I’ve been able to find were some graded examples that appear to be BETA versions with black borders and the rear of the card is white or blank. Some of these proofs have even been signed by the Artist Chris Rush and numbered making them even more valuable.

How Much Did Post Malone Spend on Black Lotus

Because the Artist Proof cards are blank back, they are not legal for tournament play. So I tend not to include these proofs when I refer to the “original” Black Lotus cards. Mainly that’s because they were not available in the market like Alpha, Beta, Unlimited or even the Collector’s or International Edition sets. Proofs are normally sent out to artists, investors or employees and are not distributed in the same way as normal cards. Thus they’re not easily found or available (nor can they be played in normal decks.)

That being said, Post Malone now has one of the rarest “Magic cards” in his possession at this time, although it’s an Artist Proof. My bet is he’ll be able to recoup his money and then some when he decides to sell it, but for me personally I’ve never been a fan of promotional cards, samples or proofs. There’s definitely a market for them, but in general I would prefer to have original playable versions instead.

As always, if you have any questions or would like some more advice about Magic: The Gathering, I’m here to help. Just hit me up on the contact page or over at Twitter or Instagram. Best of luck and if you haven’t already, start investing in Magic (and other TCG’s) today!

Brian Cooper

Brian is the founder of Magic Card Investor and has been collecting and playing Magic since 1994. Since that Golden Era of Magic, he's accumulated a nice collection from Revised on through today's newest sets and cries nightly about that massive collection (including ALL Beta Moxes) that he sold back in the late 90's for peanuts! Brian continues to try and build that collection back up to this day and writes about his adventures in investing in and collecting Magic: The Gathering cards and other Trading Card Games here on Magic Card Investor.

Keep Reading