In late May 2016, several blogs reported that people in possession of “Black Diamond Collection” Disney VHS tapes might have thousands of dollars’ worth of rare materials on their hands. Such blogs made the common mistake of not noting the disparity between what sellers ask for such items and what buyers are actually willing to pay, thus skewing perceptions by considering only the former.
The following article, for example, took into account only the listed asking prices on eBay for some Disney VHS tapes, without investigating whether any buyers were ever meeting those prices:
According to eBay listings, the 1992 animated film Beauty and the Beast is going for just under $10,000. It’s not because the live-action reboot, starring Emma Watson, is coming out next year. This VHS is selling for so much because it is rare.
A similar piece claimed that these collectors’ items have become increasingly rare due to Disney’s continual editing of their films, an action that renders the original versions largely unattainable except to buyers who procured home video copies during their initial releases:
A modern directorial practice includes the adding, editing, altering, etc… of films from their original theatrical version. Because of this, those original VHS tapes of Disney classic are worth a pretty penny, (think $1000 minimum!) In addition, these original tapes that include scenes or songs that may have been cut afterword, can be valuable to collectors for various reasons as well! Listings on eBay for an original Beauty and the Beast VHS is currently set at $9,999.99!
Many such claims used eBay listings (not active bidding wars) as evidence of the stacks of cash Disney fans with VHS tapes might be sitting upon. But when we looked at eBay’s advanced search, only items with a high bidding cost returned in a search:
Sorting from highest to lowest revealed a number of Disney Black Diamond Collection tapes listed at between $1,000 and $20,000, but none had any bids, and scrolling through pages and pages of clearly not-rare Black Diamond Disney VHS tapes revealed only inactive auctions. It wasn’t until reaching approximately the $25 range any listings which involved active bidding appeared:
Around that price point active bidding appeared on listings for the oft-lauded Beauty and the Beast Black Diamond Collection VHS tape:
But the highest that people seemed willing to go for the purportedly rare and valuable tape was again about $25. Given the rumors, it is likely even those bids could be attributed to rumored (not actual) value attached to the item.
Disney Black Diamond Collection VHS tapes were often listed for thousands of dollars, but few (if any) actually sold at that price. A July 2015 BuzzFeed article linked to an eBay auction for the Beauty and the Beast tape priced at $500 dollars, but that listing was still active (or unsold) at the time of the June 2016 rumor. A year before that, social media buzzed about a speculated value of $500 for the film, probably because of the aforementioned article.
On 28 May 2016, Philly Voice examined the rumors and located at least one item that had sold for a few thousand dollars. However, the outlet concluded that the auction’s outcome was an extreme rarity:
The Black Diamond, found on the spine of the case, denoted Disney’s “Classics” collection. It was included on 18 Disney animated features when they were first released to VHS format between 1988 and 1993. “Aladdin” was the last film to be released with a Black Diamond.
But while one eBay user paid $9,000 for a pair of “Beauty and the Beast” Black Diamond tapes – and three others spent at least $250 for a single tape – most copies seemingly sell between $5 and $25. Other popular films, such as “The Little Mermaid” and “Robin Hood,” fall within a similar range. Naturally, sealed tapes tend to go for a little more.
One auction was held up as an example of a $9,000 yield in April 2016, although it appeared the seller in fact relisted the item (and it didn’t fetch thousands):
On 7 April 2016, VHS and Betamax collector Dario Smagata answered a Quora question about the value of Disney Black Diamond Collection VHS tapes; Smagata echoed the $5 to $25 range cited by Philly Voice and noted that the items were “not rare” by any definition:
[The tapes are n]ot [worth] very much unless you can find the right person. Black Diamond tapes are becoming collectible, but they are not rare. You can find dozens of them in thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales for $1 or less.
That said, Disney collectors may pay more for them if they are harder-to-find movies, or if the tapes are in excellent condition. You might find someone willing to pay quite a bit for them if that is the case, but there’s really no set value. It all depends on who comes along[.]
While it is true that a single Black Diamond Collection Beauty and the Beast Disney VHS tape once appears to have sold for $9,000 on eBay, the sale was almost certainly a fluke. Disney Black Diamond Collection VHS tapes are neither rare nor regularly selling for thousands, hundreds, or even tens of dollars. Higher priced listings of the videos on eBay did not attract any active bids.
Similar stories abound about Beanie Babies, the toys that were briefly a craze in the 1990s, and now litter sites like Etsy and Ebay. One such account made waves in 2015, when a couple bought a Princess Beanie Baby for a pittance, then claimed that it was worth thousands (it isn’t).