The Safe Was Gone, as Were the 120 'Cherries' Inside It

Inside the 2019 theft of an incredibly rare collection of video games
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2022 7:41 AM CDT
Updated Jul 24, 2022 11:00 AM CDT
The Safe Was Gone, as Were the 120 'Cherries' Inside It
An Atari 2600 controller.   (Getty Images / CTRPhotos)

As Jason Brassard sped at 100mph toward Trade-N-Games before sunrise on August 16, 2019, he braced himself for what he would find at his video game store outside St. Louis. He had been alerted that the store's alarm system had activated. PlayStation 4s and all the latest games were likely gone, he thought. As Justin Heckert writes in a lengthy piece for Vanity Fair, they hadn't been touched—and the reality was far worse. Brassard owned one of the preeminent collections of rare video games in the world, 120 "cherries," or impeccably pristine titles. The then-46-year-old kept them in a 700-pound safe that had been stolen, wheeled out of the back of the store on a discarded dolly, its wheels flattened by the weight. Brassard says some of his games were worth $100,000 each, but as Heckert explains, Brassard's insurance would only cover about $100,000 total.

That's because the insurance adjuster had to rely on comparison prices from other sales—and hardly any of the games in the safe, in that condition, had ever sold. And rare they were: titles like "Chase the Chuck Wagon for the Atari 2600, made by Purina in the early 1980s, only available by mail-in proof of purchase from packages of dog food." The wild part of the story is that the thief was caught and convicted: Damon Jackson started going around the region trying to sell the games at other shops; workers were flabbergasted by the titles. Some had read about the theft and called Brassard, who looped in police. But it's not really a happy ending. The games that were ultimately returned to Brassard aren't cherries anymore; they had been damaged, perhaps in an attempt to make them look less like Brassard's games so they would be sellable. (The full story is worth a read.)

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