Update (07/09/2021, 2:38 p.m. ET): This copy of The Legend of Zelda has sold for $870,000, far surpassing the Super Mario Bros. that went for $660,000 in April to set a new record for a single video game auction. Holy crap.
The original story follows below.
A super-rare version of The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System is getting a lot of attention at Heritage Auctions, where pre-bidding has seen the 1987 NES cartridge surpass $100,000 before the auction’s official July 9 start date.
While the listing is dripping with Heritage Auctions’ usual bid-coaxing flair—I’m screaming at describing the item as “the apotheosis of rarity, cultural significance, and collection centerpieces” in particular—there’s no doubt that this copy of The Legend of Zelda is special. Apart from a single sealed copy from the game’s very first production run, this is billed as the earliest known copy of The Legend of Zelda in existence at this quality, distributed for just a few months in late 1987.
“As for this particular copy of the world’s first adventure with Link, we don’t even need an entire hand to count the number of copies that are purported to exist in sealed condition from this production run, and this copy is among the finest known of these examples,” Heritage Auctions’ fluffy writing adds. “Until now, there has never been a single public opportunity to lay claim to this spectacular collection centerpiece (or one even close to matching its allure and significance).”
A more common “REV-A” Zelda cartridge sold for $50,400 on Heritage Auctions back in September 2020, but this latest offering looks poised to put the classic game in the same conversation as Nintendo sibling Super Mario Bros. as far as expensive collectibles go. A rare copy of the iconic platformer sold for $660,000 in April, a ridiculous price spurred on by the existence of a tiny, cardboard hang-tab on the back of its box. Just thinking about that amount of money in one place makes me dizzy.
As with the ever-increasing prices on classic Pokémon cards, video games continue to fetch exorbitant amounts of cash from collectors with money to burn. I find the whole thing distasteful personally, as many of the people buying up old games are no doubt doing it as a sneaky way to both hide their liquid wealth in more opaque investments and avoid paying taxes. If only there was something more worthwhile to put all that money toward.