I have on the desk in front of me a boxed 25-year-old cartridge of the Nintendo game Super Mario 64. Adored for the hours of joy it generated, it is one of just 11 million copies ever produced.
Apart from being a truly seminal artefact of gaming history, this particular 1996-vintage briquette of Japanese plastic and silicon (label slightly stained with mustard) throbs with sentimental value. It was acquired, along with a Nintendo 64 console, with my first hard-earned pay cheque after I arrived in Tokyo. I have kept it as a nostalgic relic of a happy era. I wouldn’t part with it for anything. Or would I?
The game is out of storage for the first time in decades, not to be played, but to help set straight in my head the fact that last week someone paid $1.56m for something very like this. Or quite like it. But obviously less sullied by adoration, human contact or mustard.
Suddenly, attics around the world are being raided by…