Eye-popping prices and risk abound in the latest collectible boom – The Athletic

First, it was vintage trading cards selling for hundreds of thousands and then millions of dollars.

Then, it was sports paraphernalia, particularly game-used jerseys, sneakers and equipment. Autographs, game tickets, and then the splashy and confounding arrival of non-fungible tokens captured the attention (and wallets) of sports collectors and speculators.

Spending huge sums of money on so-called alternative assets became a pandemic hobby for the wealthy and those hoping to become wealthy (or wealthier) by flipping items.

Retro video game collectors have been around a long time, and while rare games have quietly sold at Ivy League tuition prices over the past couple of years, it was this summer when factory-sealed and graded vintage video games got wider notice as a craze for deep-pocketed investors. It’s unclear how many buyers are actual collectors versus speculators.

Video games are a niche collectibles market that’s a fraction of the size of trading cards, but headlines popped in the New York Times and elsewhere when an unopened, still-sealed-in-box 1985 Super Mario Bros. video game for the original Nintendo console sold for a record $2 million on Aug. 3 via the Rally collectibles fractional investment site. The most expensive trading card sold earlier this year for $6.6 million.

The games that command the most money in this young market are rare, popular, still sealed in their original packaging, and authenticated and graded by a third-party company such as Wata or VGA, akin to how trading cards have long been bought and sold, often via online auction houses that specialize in such commodities.

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