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Rare Atari game found in storage sells for over $33,000

In the end, things worked out pretty good for Harv Bennett, the Pomona, CA man who recently unearthed a copy of the incredibly rare Atari 2600 game Air Raid.

You might recall his story: After reading up about the scarcity of the game, Harv and his daughter Alana went treasure hunting in the family storage shed, excitedly finding Harv's pristine copy amidst stacks of other Atari 2600 games. After verifying its authenticity, they put it up for bidding at video game auction site Gamegavel.com, hoping collectors would go nuts.

They did.

The sale ended late Sunday, and collectors didn't disappoint. The Bennetts pocketed $33,433.30 for the game, setting a new Air Raid record. The previous high mark came in 2010, when a copy sold for $31,600.

All totaled, there were 31 bids for the Bennetts' copy of Air Raid -- and the price escalated quickly. By the end of the first day, bidding jumped from $100 to nearly $16,000. But then things stalled, and it looked like the Bennetts wouldn't come close to the record.

At the last minute, though, a pair of collectors slugged it out. "Wonder007" raised the price to $17,200, only to be topped by "videolifer" 33 seconds later with an epic bid of $33,333,30. "Wonder007" raised his bid by another $100 and with that, the auction closed.

Released in 1982 by a company called Men-a-Vision, Air Raid is considered one of gaming's rarest treasures. Only about a dozen copies have popped up over the years, making it a Holy Grail for Atari 2600 game collectors.

The money, says Harv, will go to Alana.

"My daughter is living the American dream," he told gaming website Polygon. "She just bought a house, and it's a real fixer-upper. Almost all of the money I'm giving to Alana to help her with her house."

The Bennetts weren't the only people to see a sudden windfall thanks to Air Raid in the past week. An eBay auction of another boxed copy of the game ended with a sales price just shy of $14,000.

The Bennetts had several advantages, though: their copy was in much better condition, plus it contained the game's original instruction manual, which apparently has never been found intact before.

While the new high mark for Air Raid makes it the most expensive Atari 2660 game ever, it's still significantly short of the all time record price paid for a video game. That honor goes to an exceedingly rare prototype cartridge of Nintendo's original The Legend of Zelda, which eventually sold for a stunning $55,000.

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