As It Happens

Collector sues after rare $78K Pokemon card goes missing in the mail

"Maybe it's under someone's shelf, or fell under a desk," Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the buyer, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

The rare card was given as a prize at a Japanese competition in 1999

This Trainer No. 3 card sold for $60,000 US before disappearing in the mail. It was given out as the third place prize in a Pokemon competition in Japan called Super Secret Battle. (Submitted by Mark Zaid. )

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It's one of the rarest Pokemon cards in the world — and it has gone missing. 

Known as Trainer No. 3, the card was purchased by a collector in Dubai for $60,000 US ($78,000 Cdn), but it mysteriously disappeared after the seller shipped it from Iowa.

Now the buyer is suing the shipping company, Aramex, for losing the valuable trading card. 

"Maybe it's under someone's shelf, or fell under a desk," Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the buyer, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"Who knows. But unfortunately, at this stage, the only thing one can do is seek financial compensation." 

A contestant looks at cards as he competes during the 2016 Pokemon World Championships on August 19, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The missing Trainer No. 3 card was originally given out as the third-place prize in a 1999 Pokemon competition in Japan called Super Secret Battle.

According to the Pokemon fan site Bulbapedia, it has only ever been awarded in similar competitions, for instance the annual Pokemon World Championships. Only a few dozen copies are known to exist.

Trainer No. 1 and 2 cards are awarded to first-place and second-place winners, respectively.

"Think of it as an Olympic medal, but rarer," Zaid said.

Most likely misplaced

The saga began in August 2018, when an eBay seller known as pokemonplace sold the card to the collector in Dubai. It was initially posted for $85,000, but the buyer negotiated the price down to a bargain $60,000. 

The seller told video game news website Polygon it was their responsibility to ship the card to a middleman company, which would then ship it to the buyer. 

That's where things seemed to go wrong.

"The way this process worked was you could track it from the U.S. Postal Service to the shipping facility in Queens with Aramex — and then it disappears," Zaid said. 

As well as representing the buyer of a rare Pokemon card, Mark Zaid also represents the whistleblower whose complaint triggered the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump. (Submitted by Mark Zaid)

Zaid said that according to the package's tracking information, the card arrived at Aramex's New York location, where a representative signed for a "bulk lot" of multiple items without checking if the card was there.

"Unfortunately that's not how shipping works and it's not our problem," Zaid said of Aramax's explanation.

Zaid thinks it's more likely that the card was misplaced, rather than stolen.

The buyer is suing the company for the loss of the sales purchase, attorney's fees and possibly other types of punitive damages.

Aramex did not respond to As It Happens' request for comment. 

Impeachment v. Pokemon

Zaid is also the lawyer for the whistleblower whose complaint triggered the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.

But a large part of his practice is dedicated to collectibles cases.

"As much as I'm involved with these interesting matters that have been in the news lately, this [missing card] is actually a very typical case for me," he said.

He is also a part-time comic book dealer and collector of high-end items like "historic documents of presidents and supreme court justices and famous people from around the world."

Written by Sarah Jackson. Interview with Mark Zaid produced by Kevin Ball. 


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