Holy Grail NES Castlevania sells for over $90,000, losing bidder predicts "a $250K flip" but the buyer says he wanted "the first game my mom ever bought me"

Castlevania auction
(Image credit: Konami / Nintendo / eBay via Obalsand)

In one of the biggest auctions for a raw boxed video game, a rare sealed hangtag copy of Castlevania for the original NES recently sold for $90,100 on eBay after a bidding war that started at $37,000, all for a hard-to-find game with a literal sticker price of $27.87. 

The eBay seller described the game as a "high grade grail" in brand new condition from the first production run. As Digital Eclipse's Chris Kohler notes on Twitter, the rare game is believed to have come from an estate sale in Texas. The Castlevania seller is located in Frisco, Texas, while another seller from Grapevine, Texas – about 30 minutes away, according to Google Maps – also recently began listing similar games at almost exactly the same time. 

The Grapevine seller, who sold a copy of Kid Icarus for nearly $82,000 just weeks after the Castlevania auction, explicitly stated: "I am not a game player or collector. I am a reseller who bought the estate of an avid game collector. I will list items to the best of my ability and try to describe games accurately. They are not graded and I am not familiar with how to grade video games." 

While the source of this rare Castlevania copy, which may well be the most expensive video game ever sold on eBay, is still unconfirmed, there's a non-zero chance it's connected to that Texas estate sale. The seller has listed and sold several other games much like it, all pretty recently. Last month, a copy of BurgerTime for the NES went for over $11,000, for example, while a comparable copy of Trojan brought in nearly $7,000. The seller's current listings focus on collectible cards, and currently peak at $152. 

Castlevania auction

(Image credit: Konami / Nintendo / eBay via Obalsand)

Of course, that's all small potatoes compared to this Holy Grail Castlevania. The auction kicked up quite some dust in the collector scene, with losing bidder Grailmonster discussing the back-and-forth on Instagram. "Win some, lose some," he said in a post after narrowly losing the auction. "Congrats to the winner (I know him and he deserved it way more than me). Curious to see the future of this piece. It's a $250K flip IMO. To my knowledge, this is the most a raw game has ever sold for."

The apparent winner of the auction, a prolific collector named Tom Curtin, who you may know for previously purchasing the only known copy of NES vaporware Socks the Cat and working to release the game following a Kickstarter, shared a victory post on his own Instagram. 

"The search is over after 23 years," Curtin wrote. "I resigned to never being able to add this grail after years of searching. But, everything just came together for a childhood friend and I this week as we were able to obtain this absolute beauty. This was the first game my mom ever bought me. I still remember the phone call we made to buy it. It’s a core memory, as is this past week. Couple more plane rides to go but this beautiful first print hangtag Castlevania is almost home." 

The (seemingly co-owned) copy will join Curtin's already extensive Castlevania collection, with a years-old photo indicating he has at least five copies of the same game in various conditions. This $90,000 first-run rarity would be the set's crown jewel, its value driven through the roof in part by a fairly recent spike in interest around retro video game collecting which has also spawned multiple price manipulation controversies over sellers, graders, and auction houses staging sales to drive up perceived value. This copy of Castlevania is such an outlier that I initially couldn't help but be suspicious of its sale, but the whole thing does seem to be a freak accident, and if nothing else many of the people involved, including Curtin and other bidders, are established collectors. 

Young gamer lists rare copy of NES Zelda hoping for "something like $15,000 or $20,000," sells it at auction for $288,000 after scrupulous eBay users informed him "what I had."

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.