Discovered in an office desk drawer after nearly 40 years, a Super Mario Bros. game cartridge will make pop culture history when it shatters the previous world record ever paid for a video game.
The seller purchased the game in 1985, intending to give it to her nephews as a Christmas present. Instead, it remained untouched in a drawer for 36 years before being discovered earlier this year. The seller’s nephew offered to sell the game through an online auction website, but he knew the game was something special when he received an offer far above the game’s current bid.
According to Valarie McLeckie, director of video games at Heritage Auctions, the game’s collector value is that it retains the original perforated cardboard hang tab, a feature unheard of in collecting circles and making it as close to a mint example ever discovered.
“By early 1987, Nintendo was producing a version that had another new variation to their original packaging,” McLeckie said. “Since the production window for this copy and others like it was so short, finding another copy from this same production run in similar condition would be as hard as looking for a single drop of water in an ocean. Never say never, but there’s a good chance it can’t be done.”
The sealed hang tab 1985 Nintendo video game will be sold on April 2, 2021, as part of a special selection of more than 370 lots of rare video games at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas — the highest-quality trove of video games ever offered, McLeckie said.
As of March 30, 2021, bidding had already reached $372,000 (including buyer’s premium), breaking the previous world record of $114,000 for a copy of Super Mario Bros. sold by Heritage Auctions in July 2020.
“I had a pretty good idea it was worth something,” the seller said, “but I have no idea whatsoever that the hangtag on it made it really worth something. It’s better than getting a lottery ticket — I couldn’t believe it.”
The live auction session begins at noon (EDT) and will feature a gallery of live bidders and an auctioneer, phone bidding, and real-time online bidding via HA.com. The auction will also be video streamed online through Comics.HA.com.
The game (lot number 93028) will be offered during session two of the live auction at Heritage Auctions and on HA.com and is expected to cross the auction block at about 12:30 p.m. (EDT).
4/2/21 UPDATE: The Super Mario Bros. game cartridge sold for $550,000 ($660,000 with the buyer’s premium) making it the most expensive video game ever sold.
“As soon as this copy of Super Mario Bros. arrived at Heritage, we knew the market would find it just as sensational as we did,” McLeckie said. “Even so, the degree to which this game was embraced outside the market has been nothing short of exceptional, and that aspect of this sale has certainly exceeded our expectations. Though, I suppose we can’t be too shocked; who doesn’t love Mario?”
Would you pay $660,000 for a video game? Let us know in the comments.