People usually head to garage sales and pawn shops because they’re looking to save some money or maybe to find something cool on the cheap. Still, it’s not exactly the type of place you’d expect to find something super valuable, right?
It turns out that, every once in a while, this is exactly what happens. All it takes is for one seller to put a tiny price tag on an item they don’t realize is more valuable than they think, and any eagle-eyed (or just really lucky) buyer can hit the jackpot!
The following are stories of people who found incredibly valuable and expensive antiques in unexpected places, and they are as unlikely as they are remarkable. All of these people made enough money to change their lives!
1. In 2007, this $1.6 million cabinet from the 17th century was found outside the bathroom of a Yorkshire, England, pizza restaurant. It featured an image of the pope blessing a large group of people in Rome, and it was sold for the equivalent of $1,381,408.99!
2. This painting, merely the size of a postcard, was purchased by 46-year-old Robert Rarvell for just $46 at an auction. Before that, it spent about 10 years hidden in a drawer; it was soon revealed to be painted by 19th-century artist John Constable. Crazier still? It was valued at $390,000!
Later, Rarvell got in touch with Curtis Dowling, the fakes and forgeries expert from the television series Treasure Detectives. For the following year, Curtis investigated the origin of the painting, eventually coming to the conclusion that it was a gift from Constable to his father-in-law.
3. The grandfather of a 70-year-old Englishman named John Weber gave him this ancient cup when he was a child. Since John didn’t know its value, he used to for target practice with his air gun. It wasn’t until 2008, after he got the cup appraised, that it became clear that this was a 2,300-year-old gold chalice from Persia. It sold for the equivalent of $99,000!
4. This 17th century Japanese lacquer box had passed through several different owners over the centuries; it as eventually sold for just $160 to a French Shell Petroleum engineer. It was used as a TV stand for 16 years before its value—to the tune of $9.5. million—was finally realized in 2013.
5. This bowl from China was sold to a family from New York for just $3. It turned out to be 1,000 years old… and worth roughly $2.2 million. It was sold to Giuseppe Eskenazi, a dealer from London, at New York’s Sotheby’s auction house in March 2013.
According to Sotheby’s, the bowl originated in the Northern Song Dynasty, which ruled over China from 960 to 1127, and was known for its profound developments in art and culture.
6. When a sister and brother were cleaning out their recently deceased parents’ home, they discovered a curious old vase and decided to have it appraised. It was estimated to be worth somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million. Amazingly, Chinese buyers pushed up the price to a record-breaking $54,772,325.
7. Andy Fields, a British businessman, bought a collection of five paintings from a garage sale for just $5. Upon having them framed, it was discovered that one was an original sketch of 1930s singer Rudy Vallee… created by none other than Andy Warhol himself. Warhol was just 10 years old when he painted it; it’s now estimated to be worth about $2 million.
8. Rick Norsigian loved to hunt for great deals at garage sales, but even he couldn’t have expected two modestly sized boxes he bought for just $45 (marked down from the $70 asking price) to actually be worth more than $200 million. He had kept them under his pool table for years before getting them appraised. It’s a good thing he did!
Inside the boxes were 65 glass negatives from the early career of pioneering nature photographer Ansel Adams. Experts previously believed that they were lost in a fire that destroyed about 5,000 other plates in 1937.
9. The documentary Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? tells the story of 73-year-old Teri Horton, a California trucker, who purchased a purported Jackson Pollock painting for just $5. The woman had never heard of the artist before, which led to the name of the film.
Horton purchased the painting because she thought that the bright colors might help cheer up her friend who was feeling depressed. Eventually, though, she turned down a Saudi Arabian buyer’s offer for $9 million, and now says that she’ll accept no less than $50 million.
10. Tony Maron from California spent $5 on a box full of documents at an ordinary neighborhood garage sale. When he got home, he studied his purchase and discovered that there was a 1917 stock certificate for 1,625 shares of the Palmer Union Oil Company.
After doing some research, Tony learned that this company later merged with another company, and that company later merged with Coca-Cola. All in all, that meant that all of these documents were worth a total of $130 million. That makes him one of the wealthiest garage sale owners in history!
These stories just go to show that if you have anything at all that might be worth something, it’s always good to get it appraised! Otherwise, you might lose out on millions of dollars.
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