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Zelda game fetches 'world record' price at auction

July 10, 2021

The pristine, sealed "Legend of Zelda" cartridge sold for over $800,000 at auction — breaking the record for the sale of a video game.

A handout photo of a 'Legend of Zelda' game that sold at auction
The 1987 'Legend of Zelda' game cartridge smashed the previous record for a video game sold at auctionImage: Heritage Auctions/AFP

A video game cartridge for the Nintendo classic, "The Legend of Zelda," took home a record sum when it went under the hammer on Friday, according to US auction house Heritage Auctions.

The sale comes just months after another Nintendo game set the previous record amid a boom for all things retro among video game collectors.

What was sold?

According to the Dallas-based auction house, the "Zelda" cartridge sold for a record-breaking $870,000 (€732,000).

The sealed gaming cartridge dates from 1987 and is still in its original packaging. It was produced for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) gaming console — the first console released by the company outside Japan.

The particular cartridge sold was "from one of the earliest production runs" of the game. The particular type was produced "for just a few months in late 1987" before being replaced with another variant.

"The Legend of Zelda" is the first game in the wildly popular action-adventure series. Nintendo went on to make numerous "Zelda" games, including the 2017 critically acclaimed release of "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild."

What did the auction house say?

Eric Bradley, a spokesperson for Heritage Auctions, told news agency AFP that the cartridge was the "masterpiece" of the items sold under video game auction.

The auction house did not reveal details about the buyer.

Valarie McLeckie, a video games specialist with Heritage Auctions said although she knew the high value of the game, she was still surprised by the sale price.

Playing Super Mario in augmented reality

"I had a lot of confidence in this game, and, yet, I still feel like the reality of today's bidding exceeded my vision of how it would play out," she said in a statement.

"Making history is never an easy thing. I'm just really proud we got to be part of this yet again"

Record-breaking video game sales

Friday's sale blew past the previous record for a video game that was set earlier this year in an auction also by Heritage Auctions.

The previous title-holder was a 1986 "Super Mario Bros" cartridge that sold for $660,000 in April.

Retro video games and consoles continue to grow in popularity among collectors — with pristine and unwrapped games of particular interest.