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Collectors Corner: In the News for September 2021

Collectors Corner
Collectors Corner: In the News

A new documentary is keeping interest in the artwork of Bob Ross alive, and there’s anything but a slowdown in the collectability of video game cartridges following the pandemic-induced boom. Here’s what’s “in the news” for collectors.

Bob Ross Revisited: The Documentary
It’s been over a quarter century since Bob Ross died of cancer at the age of 52, and we thought that pretty much everything about the artist and his work had already been examined in depth. (See EcommerceBytes Collectors Corner: The Joy of Bob Ross.)

Apparently, we were wrong.

Streaming now on Netflix is the documentary “Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed,” and despite the somewhat lurid title, the focus is not so much on Ross, himself – who was personally quite genuine – as on the legal battles over the custody of his legacy following his death.

The fight pitted Annette and Walt Kowalski (and, later, their daughter June Kowalski) against Steve Ross, Bob Ross’ son, over control of Bob Ross, Inc., the company that the Kowalskis had helped found, and, to this day, not everyone involved in the litigation is content with the adjudicated resolution.

We think Bob Ross would have been sad to know that his paintings did not leave everyone he knew happy.

Unhappy Little Trees: The Dark Legacy of Bob Ross (Vanity Fair) – Explores the documentary and interviews its subjects.

Video Game Cartridges
Trading cards were not the only category of collectibles that got a boost from shutdowns and increased federal spending during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Video game cartridges also set auction records.

Entering the pandemic, the highest price ever paid for a video game cartridge was $110,150 for a mint-condition, professionally-graded, 1985 copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. at an auction in February 2019.

In July of 2020 a similar mint copy of the game set a new auction record of $114,000, representing a modest increase.

By November, prices began to rise in earnest, and a Super Mario Bros. 3 – also mint and graded – garnered a final bid of $156,000.

This year saw the floodgates open for all manner of collectibles, and in April – just five months after the previous record – a mint 1986 Super Mario Bros. “plastic-sealed copy with a perforated cardboard hangtab” sold for $660,000. (The game had originally been purchased as a Christmas gift, and had lain, forgotten, in a desk drawer for 35 years. The moral? Maybe it’s a good thing NOT to clean out desks and closets too often!)

Just three months later, in early July, two auctions surpassed even that sum. On July 9th, an unopened copy of a rare 1987 version of The Legend of Zelda sold for $870,000, while on July 11th, a “pristine” copy of Nintendo’s 1996 Super Mario 64 soared to a new record bid of $1.56 million!

Let’s see how long the record lasts.

Super Mario 64 Is Now the World’s Most Expensive Video Game (Smithsonian Magazine)

Sealed Super Mario Bros. sells for $660,000, shattering record for most expensive game ever (The Verge)

Unopened Legend of Zelda game from 1987 sells for $870,000 (AP News)

Michele Alice
Michele Alice
Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more!