Sealed Zelda game donated to US non-profit lands Goodwill US$411,000 from auction

It's not known if the person who donated the game understood its value.
It's not known if the person who donated the game understood its value. Photo credit: Supplied

A non-profit organisation in the US has been handed a US$411,000 bonus after a rare, sealed copy of a Zelda video game was donated to it.

The second printing of The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was handed to the Bridgeport, Connecticut branch of Goodwill, an organisation that helps those struggling to get jobs.

Goodwill then put the cartridge on its auction site, which features everything from games consoles and jewellery to pet supplies and musical instruments.

The winner was noted video game collector Eric Naierman, a dentist in Florida, The Action Network reported. He beat out 144 other bids to win the rare cartridge last week for US$411,278.

And he thinks he got a bargain.

"I think the box would get an 8 or an 8.5 and given what the first print in a higher condition went for, we thought the market was around US$600,000 for this," he told the website.

The game's plastic covering is said to have had scratches and smudges, the sticker was peeled in one of the corners and there were some dents in the box, meaning it's worth less than a sealed copy in better condition.

The first print, with a grading of nine, sold for US$870,000 at Heritage Auctions in early July.

It's not known who or how the item was donated, or if the value was understood when it was handed to Goodwill.

But CNET reports Goodwill stores primarily get its stock through donation centres, "meaning that in all likelihood, someone simply gave away this sealed classic game".

However, The Action Network says Goodwill hasn't always been as lucky with its donations.

In 2015 it sold a sweater for 58 cents with the name Lombardi written on an inside label. It turned out to have belonged to legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, whose name adorns the trophy handed to the Superbowl champions.

It later sold at auction for over US$43,000.

The premium for this sale of Zelda is going to allow Goodwill to open another careers centre in Connecticut.

The market for video games has increased massively in 2021 so far. That July auction of the first print of Zelda set a new record at the time, but that was eclipsed in under a week when a sealed copy of Nintendo 64 classic Super Mario 64 sold for US$1.56 million.

Less than a month later an unopened copy of 1985 game Super Mario Bros for the NES sold for US$2 million through collectibles site Rally.