First of all, this pinball museum looked AWESOME. I wish it was near where I live, I would have visited 100 times.
Secondly, if you follow auctions, there is no big mystery why these pins and arcade games got bid up so ridiculously high.
1. This auction is the sort of thing that the general public finds highly interesting. If you have a huge auction of plumbing supplies, the general public won't give even a tiny micro craap and the bidding will get done by a small number of people who know exactly how much the plumbing supplies are worth.
But an auction of pinballs and classic 80s arcade games is a "remarkable" and "exciting" thing that will get a lot of newspaper coverage as a general interest story. This news coverage will grab the interest of a huge number of potential bidders.
2. Most of the people bidding are outsiders to the hobby, who don't know what the normal prices are, and who don't know where to buy games. They think that this is their only remaining chance in their lifetime to buy a Ms. Pac machine and they have no idea what they normally sell for.
3. When 100,000+ people know about an auction, and the auction is selling something "remarkable" and "neato", the auction is going to be dominated by the big-money bidders and the slap-happy-auction-fever bidders.
In other words, a 60 year old dentist named Fred and his wife Janet make $300k a year between them and their kids are all done with college and their house is paid off. They got nothing to spend their money on.
Fred reads about this amazing incredo-auction of pinballs in the news and gets all excited because he hasn't played Battlezone since 1988.
"Janet! Remember how I used to play Battlezone and you loved to play Ms. Pac Man?? There is a huge auction in two weeks! Let's get a Battlezone and a Ms. Pac Man!!"
Then the bidding starts and the guy gets auction fever and ends up with a $3,800 Battlezone because a 58 year old accountant in Des Moines got into a feverish bidding war with him over what they see as the only remaining Battlezone on earth.
You see this kind of thing all the time in all collectable auctions.
Suppose some police department decides to auction off their scabby, beat-up old armory of WWII Thompson subguns. It will get into the news because... everyone loves Thompsons. Then wealthy ranchers and farmers and rednecks with trust funds and 50 foot sportfishing boats from all over the USA will push the price of the guns to 2X or 3X the normal price because they don't know what they're doing and they get over-excited.
YOU wouldn't pay $3,800 for a Battlezone, but a dentist named Fred with paid-off mortgage and a Mercedes E-class in his driveway will.
If you start following auctions, you'll see this saga played out over and over again.