Photo: Delaney Van
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"I started collecting VHS that were sealed in the box like three years ago because I was really high one night. In 2026, it'll be 20 years since the last VHS was made. So 20 years goes by, that's enough time for people to be like, 'Oh, that was cool. Remember?!'...like vinyl."
Ever so charmingly, Pete Davidson introduced the concept of sealed VHS collecting to an incredulous audience at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Laugh though they did at his self-effacing explanation - including the admission that he bought 3,000 to 5,000 tapes - those laughs quickly turned to gasps when Davidson revealed that some of these tapes were now selling for "20 to 30 grand a pop."
He specifically cites a 2023 sale of Rocky. A VGA 85-graded copy of the movie sold at Heritage in February for $27,500. Imagine knowing very little about collectibles and then learning that - of all things - a sealed VHS tape of Rocky - of all movies - sold for almost 30 grand! It would be hard to believe. But then again, so is Pete Davidson's dating record! These are confusing times we live in.
Davidson, promoting his new movie Dumb Money about the GameStop saga, refers to the collection as his GameStop. Silly as it may seem, his thesis is looking remarkably prescient....for the moment. And people have taken notice after his appearance. In the days following the show, the Google Trends charts for "sealed VHS" queries were hockey sticks. A blog we wrote shortly after that Rocky sale received more than twice as many Google Search impressions in a week as it did in the prior three months.
Incredulous curiosity, though, does not automatically translate to dollars spent. The difference in sealed VHS sales activity on eBay over the last week versus the week before is negligible. It's a bit of a relief to learn that Davidson doesn't have that much juice.
The next big auction event featuring VHS is LCG's Fall Premier Auction, closing at the end of the month. It doesn't appear it will be replete with heavy hitters, though, and it's unclear if the attention spans of the Jimmy Fallon faithful would even last long enough to remember sealed VHS is a thing by the time Halloween rolls around. Speaking of Fallon, this isn't the first time a guest - or the host, for that matter - has showcased a collectible.
Back in January of 2022, Fallon and Paris Hilton showed off their Bored Apes on the Tonight Show. Back then, the floor price for the NFT collection hovered around $200,000 - $250,000. Today, it's under $40,000, and the pair - in addition to other celebrities - are defendants in a lawsuit regarding their alleged roles in promoting the project.
While influence and provenance can play a role in collectible markets, major monetary decisions should not be made based on what a celebrity says or does. But if you needed to be told not to base your life choices off the actions of Pete Davidson, there are likely matters more important than sealed VHS that need tending to. Plus, Davidson - the Buffett of Blockbuster - already has the market cornered.
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