Most of us hold on to junk longer than we probably should. Who doesn’t know someone whose garage is overflowing with old furniture and knick-knacks that should have been tossed long, long ago?
So when an auctioneer got a call from anonymous sellers looking to make money off of some stuff that was sitting in their Michigan barn, he didn’t expect to come back with much. However, once the doors opened, he quickly learned that he was way off.
From the outside, this normal-looking barn didn’t seem to be anything special. But just one look inside, and you’d realize it’s much more than just an average building.
Inside all of this junk was actually a fortune waiting to be found.
The first person who received news about what exact treasures were inside the barn was a man named Scott Miedema.
Scott is the COO of an auction website run out of Wayland, Michigan, and though he’s been in the business for a very long time, he was not prepared for this phone call.
“We met with the family at an offsite restaurant, and they escorted us to their property,” Scott said. “Once we got there, we opened the doors to the barn.” Inside?
As it turns out, the family — who wishes to remain anonymous — had a huge collection of more than 50 classic cars inside!
“Many of the vehicles were rare and still in great condition,” Scott said. “None of the cars have been driven in over 30 years.”
The majority of the cars were Ford Thunderbirds, made between the 1950s and the 1970s.
Classic cars can be pricey, with some rare vehicles ranging from tens of thousands to a million dollars, or more. So, finding them isn’t easy — especially classic Ford Thunderbirds.
“It was like a scene out of one of those reality TV shows like ‘American Pickers’ or ‘Hoarders.'”
However, there was also one 1932 Ford Model B and a 1947 Pontiac Convertible!
Scott eventually hauled all of the cars to his showroom in Wayland, Michigan and put them up for auction.
He estimates that he could make as much as half a million dollars.
Not bad for some junk he found in a barn!
Sure, some people store high-value items like this on their property intentionally — but what if there were gems in your home that you had no idea were even there? That’s exactly what happened to Mark Lopez while he was organizing his attic.
Many people wonder if there might be some sort of fabulous treasures tucked away in their childhood home. There has to be something in all of those boxes, right? Mark, however, never really thought this way.
As kids, Mark and his sister, Maria, were told plenty of outlandish stories from their grandfather. Still, it never crossed their minds that he was telling the truth. He was just entertaining them, right?
For instance, when Mark and Maria were young, their grandfather used to claim that he’d located the treasure of José Gaspar, a notorious Spanish pirate, many years ago. The children enjoyed the story, but they never took it seriously.
After their grandfather passed away, Mark and Maria were tasked with cleaning his attic. They figured they’d find nothing of value… until they made a startling discovery inside an unmarked box that changed everything they thought they knew about him!
Among the items that Mark and Maria found inside the strange container was a picture of two people on their wedding day. While they had no proof, the siblings assumed it was likely a photograph of their great-grandparents.
Also inside the box was a crude map of Tampa, Florida, from the 1930s. Why would their grandfather keep such a bizarre item seemingly drawn by hand? Still, there were other items to add to the mystery…
Mark and Maria also found an array of what they believed to be Portuguese and Spanish coins dating all the way back to the 16th century. Perhaps there really was some truth to their grandfather’s stories?
“Maybe my great-grandparents were pirates,” Mark joked later, while admitting that the truth can sometimes be shocking. Still, he and his sister hadn’t seen anything yet! They kept digging through their grandfather’s stuff…
Quite disturbingly, the chest also contained a preserved human hand! It really must have seemed like something from straight out of a horror film. What the heck was their grandfather doing with a hand?
Both Mark and Maria were in complete shock when they discovered the hand. “Maria came across it and once she told me she found a hand in a box. I was totally blown away,” he admitted after their find.
Why would their grandfather keep a preserved human hand for so long? And why would he keep it all a secret from his family? Mark and Maria knew they had to do some more digging if they ever wanted to know the truth.
While every thought imaginable stirred in their minds, Mark and Maria decided they had to get to the bottom of their discovery, once and for all. So they brought the box and the items inside to a professional for appraisal.
First, Tampa Bay History Center curator Rodney Kite-Powell took a look at the coins. “They’re a little thin to be Spanish Coins or old coins in general. Generally, older coins were thicker,” Rodney explained.
The coins weren’t as old as they’d anticipated, but that didn’t make them any less exciting. Next, Rodney wanted to give the crude map of Tampa a close examination. After a while, he determined it dated back to either the 1920s or 1930s.
The chances of any of the items having belonged to José Gaspar were starting to dwindle. “It’s fascinating, but I just don’t know what to make of it aside from the fact that it’s probably not José Gaspar’s hand, these probably aren’t Spanish coins,” Rodney explained.
Of course, the hand might not have belonged to José Gaspar, but that didn’t do anything to take away from its mystery. Mark and Maria still had no idea of its origins—or if it was all even real to begin with.
“I think it still looks real and the weirdest thing is the hand,” Mark mentioned, while taking a moment to remember all the tall tales his grandfather had told him and his sister when they were children. Was he lying or not?
“Either my great-grandfather made the best, most elaborate pirate hoax ever and never shared it with anyone, or he really did find some treasure on the Hillsborough River,” Mark recalled. “There’s really no way to know.”
Mark and Maria decided they’d hold onto the mysterious box and its mysterious contents as a relic of their late grandfather and their family history. Who knows? Maybe one day they’ll learn the whole truth!
While the coins, map, and hand might not have given Mark and Maria the answers they were looking for, there’s no denying that simply sifting through their grandfather’s items gave them a glimpse into his past. And what a wild past it was!