Atari Packrat Looks for a Paycheck

Atari Packrat Looks for a Paycheck

Remember when your parents made you toss out your stash of comic books, baseball cards, or whatever else you collected as a kid (btw, anyone remember Garbage Pail Kids?)? Against your will, you obliged knowing it was a mistake to do so. And if you happened to collect 1980s artwork of, say, Atari games, you can rectify that mistake by buying back your collection, all you need is a spare $100K or so lying around.

It all started when Cort Allen, now 60 years old, went in search of furniture for his new company two decades ago. At the same time, Atari was closing shop in Sunnyvale, and Cort stumbled upon workers clearing out office cabinents in preparation for selling them. Before they could toss the contents, Cort nabbed the cabinets up, 40 in all, for just $2 each (put the abacus away, that comes to $80). A deal in its own right, it's what's inside that would ultimately become a nostalgiac gold mine.

Inside those cabinents Cort found 350 pounds of 8-bit artwork, including drafts for game manuals, box art, and even 20-year old drawings of Donkey Kong and Mario that are markedly different than how the notorious caricatures appear today. Most of us have long since said goodbye to our repository of retro reading material, but because Cort held onto his, he could find himself considerably richer, as in, six digits more.

You'll need to register with Sotheby's to view the auction details, or jump over to BugMeNot and skip the registration hoop.

That's right, Sotheby's auction house of New York, the second oldest international auction establishment in existence (according to Wikipedia), estimated the 2,200 piece collection would bring in anywhere from $150K to $250K. The only thing missing is a buyer, and though the auction brought in lots of interest (and bidders), the reserve price was never reached. What exactly was the reserve set at? Mums the word, though we can hazard a guess it appeared closer to the $150K mark than a sub $100K spot. And while you may scoff at such a high estimation, consider that the collection includes one-of-a-kind drawings from not just Atari relics, but early Nintendo renderings of two of the most famous videogame characters that make up the face of the franchise. For sports fans, that's the the geek equivalent of owning a Little League baseball card of Michael Jordan pulled straight from his mother's nightstand, right along with the order form and receipt.

Whatever the collection ends up being worth, there's a definite lesson to be learned here. If, or when, you have kids, let them box up their childhood fads instead of tossing them in the dumpster. Then they can pay for their own college.



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Garbage Pail Kids, there is a name i havent thought of in along time. I used to collect the Marvel Comic Character Cards, my dad made me throw it away.

Garbage Pail Kids Website

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