Rare games heisted

"Pristine nostalgia, potentially worth millions, gone in a night," goes the subheading of Justin Heckert's article in Vanity Fair, telling how Jason Brassard spent a lifetime building an astounding collection of classic games only to lose them to a thief.

The contents of that safe had taken him nearly 30 years to acquire, a few titles only a handful of people had ever seen. The safe itself he'd bought secondhand from a local real estate agent who was going out of business. Inside the safe, he had 120 games on three shelves, along with $19,000 in silver coins and bars and $10,000 in cash. He would only be able to claim around $100,000 as the value of the stolen games, because the insurance adjuster would only use comparison prices from other sales. Hardly any of the games in the safe ever came up for sale in the decades he'd been collecting. The reality had him choking out tears into the dark.

It's a good whodunnit with some intriguing turns that throw light on the nature of an everday crook who somehow knew what to look for but still didn't know what he got. The thief's every move, from removing rare games from factory shrinkwrap to hauling them around in shopping bags, vastly reduced the items' value. The story paints a picture of a marginal and easily exploited (and not entirely collegiate) community, too: cops were helpful, but insurers ripped Brassard off and used game store owners in Vegas openly and contemptuously stocked stolen goods from his collection. And while the story doesn't go there, it does hint that the supposed valuations of these old games are extremely tentative, if not why.

Spoiler: they got their man and he received 17 years, but all of it deferred on probation.