The 1985 cartridge, still in its original plastic sealing, sold to an anonymous bidder at Heritage Auctions’ event. The $114,000 winning bid bested the previous auction record of $100,000 for a single video game; that mark, set in February 2019, was also established by a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros.
“The demand for this game was extremely high, and if any lot in the sale could hit a number like that, it was going to be this one,” Heritage Auctions Video Games Director Valarie McLeckie said in a statement. “We knew this would be a strong live session, but I don’t think anybody could have anticipated how much bidding action there was on Heritage Live! and the phones.”
Graded in A+ condition, this unopened version of Super Mario Bros. featured “hangtabs,” a rare and short-lived variant of the game’s original packaging.
“This unopened copy of this [Nintendo] launch title soared to record heights in part because it was part of one of the short production runs of the game packaged in boxes with a cardboard hangtab underneath the plastic, an indication that it was part of one of the first variants produced after Nintendo started using shrink-wrap to seal the games rather than stickers,” Heritage Auctions said of the packaging.
In total, Friday’s auction of sealed Nintendo games brought in over $699,000, well exceeding its $428,000 pre-estimate auction. Other notable items included a sealed copy of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out that sold for $50,000 and a first-pressing, ultra-rare copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 that had the “Bros.” placed on the left side of the front cover; that item, one of only 10 known to exist, sold for $38,000.
In 2015, an excavated batch of 900 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Atari games sold at auction for $108,000.