The YouTube channel Red Letter Media proved how much nostalgic cult classic VHS tapes are worth.
RLM, comprised of Mike Stoklasa, Jay Bauman, and Rich Evans, set out to capitalize on their massive fan-sent “Nukie” VHS collection to benefit charity. With 1.46 million subscribers, a Patreon page, and frequent celebrity guests like Jack Quaid, Macaulay Culkin, and Patton Oswalt, the RLM film review founders opted to use their platform for philanthropy. After almost a decade of collecting VHS copies, the trio of hosts finally watched the 1987 South African sci-fi movie “Nukie” — the infamously bad “E.T.” knockoff about an alien who sets out to rescue his brother from evil researchers — and sold their best copy for upwards of $80,000 on eBay.
Host Stoklasa explained that the idea came from a recent sealed VHS copy of “Back to the Future” selling for $75,000 at auction, and the YouTubers were curious about what “Nukie” would garner. Stoklasa and Evans opted to destroy their 104 copies of “Nukie” to make their sealed copy even rarer. In a video posted December 30, the RLM hosts sent the VHS that seemed to be in the best condition to be professionally graded through a third-party service that rates the quality, authenticity, and condition of the tape.
“We’re proud to say we very well could be the owners of the world’s largest collection of ‘Nukie’ VHS tapes,” Stoklasa said, with the video caption reading, “As the owners of 1000s of crappy VHS tapes, we were curious to dig deeper into this trend.”
The RLM copy of “Nukie” was rated 8.5 out of 10 in terms of quality. The remaining 104 tapes were then destroyed with a woodchipper, with Stoklasa making “Fargo” references.
“Are there more ‘Nukies’ out there in the world? Probably, but less now because of this video,” Bauman said.
The graded VHS sold for $80,600 on January 6 on eBay, with the YouTube video viewed upwards of 1.2 million times.
The auction money was donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis and the Wisconsin Humane Society. “What two great charities,” Stoklasa said. “I can think of no better charities to give to…We’re going to try to give them as much money as we can.”
Bauman replied, “Well, ‘Nukie’ has animals and children, so it’s appropriate. Happy bidding!”
The official Red Letter Media Twitter page teased, “Witness the sale of the world’s most expensive videotape!”