US Customs absolutely destroys a graded boxed copy of Pokemon Yellow for the Game Boy that could be worth over $10,000.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection appears to have destroyed a sealed, graduated copy of pokemon yellow potentially worth thousands of dollars. Obtaining copies of older, well-preserved games has become an increasingly popular practice in recent years and a boxed copy of pokemon yellow is a rare treasure in 2023. Shipping a sealed box internationally, however, comes with some risk. U.S. Customs completely destroying a rarity probably wasn’t a risk anyone considered.
Here’s how video game rating works. Collectors will take what they consider to be a rare video game, boxed or unboxed, and ship it off to a professional grading and certification service. Wata Games and CGC Video Games are just two examples of companies that offer this service. Reviewers will then assess the authenticity of the product, rate it on a 10-point scale, and place it in a sealed plastic case with official information prominently displayed. The result is a collectible that is much easier to compare to similar products and assign resale value to.
Nightdive Studio CEO Stephen Kick shared a nightmarish experience their friend recently had with an American copy of Wata pokemon yellow for the Game Boy still in the box. Kick explained that US Customs, supposedly assessing a mailed package, not only broke the acrylic case and threw away the graded game seal, but also cut the front of the pokemon yellow cardboard box to see its contents. Suffice to say that it is unlikely that he will regain his score of 9.2 during the re-evaluation.
The exact value of the original sealed copy of pokemon yellow is difficult to assess with certainty. A very similar copy of pokemon yellow with a 9.4 rating is asking for $10,500 on eBay right now. A copy rated 9.0 in Germany costs EUR 11,500.00. However, the best-selling copy on eBay costs just over $1,400 for a 9.0 rating. The value of the game right now is probably somewhere in the middle.
Whether Kick’s friend is compensated may depend on whether the shipment was insured. The United States Postal Service allows collectibles to be insured based on their value, so it is possible that a claim could result in the full value of the seal pokemon yellow. Even without insurance, however, there may be enough evidence to show that the USPS intentionally destroyed the game for a claim to be successful. The legality is unclear, given the powers US customs officers have to search mail for contraband.
All in all, it’s a horror story for any video game collector. The possibility of a valuable package going missing, being stolen or damaged during shipping is one thing. Getting US Customs to destroy a valuable collectible with reckless disregard is something else entirely. On the other hand, sealed copies of video games seem like a clever way to send contraband. One less sealed copy pokemon yellow is still a tragedy no matter how you look at it, however.
pokemon yellow is available for the Game Boy.
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