A sealed copy of NES’ The Legend of Zelda has sold for $870,000 at auction, breaking the previous world record of $660,000 for the most valuable game collectible ever that was set by a sealed copy of NES’ Super Mario Bros. in April 2021.
“Truly, the term ‘grail’ only begins to scratch the surface of describing this game,” Heritage Auctions writes in the lot description. “Of all of the games we’ve offered in our auctions, this sealed early production copy of the first game in the groundbreaking Legend of Zelda series is no doubt the apotheosis of rarity, cultural significance, and collection centerpieces.”
Heritage Auctions says none of the copies of The Legend of Zelda it offered in the past can “even attempt to hold a candle to this one due to its incredibly rare variant that holds early production status.”
This variant copy of Zelda nicknamed the “NES R” was produced for just a few months in late 1987 before it was replaced by a “Rev-A” variant in 1988, according to Heritage Auctions.
“Only one other variant precedes the offered ‘NES R’ variant and that is the ‘NES TM’ variant, which is the true first production run,” the description continues. “However, it is widely believed that only a single sealed ‘NES TM’ example exists, and there is no telling whether or not that copy will ever come to market.”
All of that is to say that the copy of The Legend of Zelda in the Heritage Auctions auction is the earliest sealed copy of the game one can actually obtain.
This copy’s auction is certainly nothing to scoff at. A Nintendo PlayStation prototype console sold for $360,000 in an auction held last year while an incredibly rare plastic-sealed copy of Super Mario Bros. for the NES sold for $660,000 back in April.
When that copy of Super Mario Bros. sold for over half a million dollars earlier this year, it became the most expensive price ever paid for a video game collectible.