Most reading this will likely be retro game collectors to some degree – but have you ever considered collecting the original artwork that adorns your classic favourites? ‘Dan’ (surname kept private) from Vancouver is one such collector, and if you happen to be the owner of the original artwork for the NES version of Contra, he’d like to have a chat with you.
Posting on the Nintendo Age forums (of which he is also a moderator of), Dan, going by the avatar, ‘Bronty’ has put out there that he’s willing to pay $100,000USD for the original artwork if you happen to be the owner. Painted by the legendary Bob Wakelin who sadly passed away late last month, the piece has been elusive to Dan’s collection for years. With the death of Wakelin, though, Dan has decided to put out the call publicly with the cash to back it up.
Box and cartridge art back then was hand-painted onto a huge canvas (which could possibly be up to 30” in size) and then photographed for promotional use. But how is Dan so sure that the original even still exists? Contra did come out in 1988 after all – and if you’ve peeked at a calendar recently you’ll realise that was a decent chunk of time ago.
Well, in the same Nintendo Age forum post, Dan reveals that he spoke to Wakelin around ten years ago where he told Dan that he sold it in the “80’s or early 90’s” but couldn’t recall to whom. This seems to be enough proof that it hasn’t been since destroyed and is currently in someone else’s collection – hence the public callout.
As a man willing to drop a cool 100K on some game specific art, you might be wondering about his existing collection. Talking to Kotaku, Dan discloses that he originally started collecting the games themselves – eventuating in a nearly complete sealed NES collection. He started selling more and more of it off to fund the artwork side of things, however – eventually letting go of a sealed copy of Stadium Events (I didn’t even know a sealed version of that was a thing) to trade for the artwork of a Taito release called Panic Restaurant. Currently, he has more than 50 pieces of game art in his collection.
Regardless, if you happen to be the owner of this specific Contra artwork and feel like increasing your net worth by $100,000, then I recommend creating a Nintendo Age account and sending Dan a message.