If you're into the Pokémon Trading Card Game, you may have heard of the name Gary Haase. Known to many as "King Pokémon", this 67-year-old father of three's claim to fame is that his TCG collection is reportedly worth a cool $10 million – making it the most valuable collection of its kind in the world.
Haase is treated like a rockstar whenever he turns up at events and has celebrities all over the world approaching him in the hope that he will part with some of his collection. It's reported that Justin Bieber has been in touch, but Haase is famously reluctant to sell his goods (a recent exception was YouTuber Logan Paul, who purchased a PSA 10 first-edition Charizard card for $150,000 and then wore it ringside for his 'boxing' match with former champ Floyd Mayweather).
At a time when Pokémon TCG is hotter than ever and cards are changing hands for insane amounts of money, Haase is regarded as a legitimate celebrity himself (a recent meet-and-greet with him at the Collect-A-Con event in the US lasted for five hours – it was supposed to last one-and-a-half hours).
Haase's profile means he's a target for scorn as well as acclaim, of course, and recent comments he made during an interview have rubbed fans up the wrong way.
During the interview – taken from a show about finance, rather than Pokémon – Haase discussed one of his prized Charizard cards, in this case signed (on the protective case, not directly onto the card) by original artist Mitsuhiro Arita. Arita, in case you weren't aware, has been involved with Pokémon TCG for decades and has created the artwork for hundreds of cards. Amongst fans, he's revered and adored.
As you might expect, the reaction to the clip wasn't pretty:
However, several people have pointed out that Haase's comments were taken entirely out of context and were made on a show which is focused on finance. They claim he wasn't being disrespectful – rather, he was pointing out that the card was of such high value that the signature wouldn't make a massive amount of difference to its price.
For his own part, Haase has responded to the original tweet via his Instagram account and highlighted the charity work he's involved with via his wife.
He has also posted the following statement regarding the clip, confirming that his comment was taken out of context (edited to remove emojis and several 'lol's):
Since there’s been several messages about the Arita comment. That comment was taken out of context which is a trend these days. I was only referring to that one card. I have a dozen Arita autos with 5 or 6 including great sketches which I love.
According to the text, I inflated the market though I’ve only sold 3 cards out of my collection in 5 years. I’ve bought hundreds though. I guess by making the hobby more popular that equates to inflating the market.
This girl for some reason is being very petty and nasty on social media but this isn’t about her. We weren’t all brought up the same. We don’t know what trials these haters went through as kids. Best to let them work their own hate out.
I’d rather this be about us. What can we do to shed light on others? How can we lift them up? 99% of our community is positive, charitable, and loving. Don’t let the 1% affect, as RealBreakingNate would say, your positive vibes.
While it does seem like Haase has a point here, the negative reaction has a lot to do with the way the Pokémon TCG has been turned into a massive money-spinning exercise in modern times, with Wired reporting that those in charge of grading a card (and therefore deciding its value) are coming under intense scrutiny.