They say one man’s garbage is another’s treasure. But nothing truly proves this fact quite like this list. For the people below, garage sale bargains or even long-forgotten hand-me-downs from nutty relatives turned into real-time treasures. And honestly, this is everyone’s dream. Everyone wants to suddenly come across a treasure that sets them and their family up for generations to come. Many people dream of such pleasant things at night, only to wake up to the harsh realities of not having a manageable bank balance or income in the morning.
Of course, such beautiful serendipity happens to only a few people in their lifetimes, but reading their stories gives us all hope. Perhaps one day, it could happen to us so that all our dreams could come true as well. Most of us make our peace with our lot in life because that is what our species does to stay reasonably happy. But for these lucky few, life did spring a sudden happy surprise on them. So it’s a good thing to hang on to family heirlooms and have them valued before hosting a garage sale and giving away millions of dollars to someone else. It also doesn’t hurt to buy a metal detector. Plus, it’s good to trust one's instinct. Having something rare or special is a good thing, but selling it for a rare and unheard of price is even better!
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25 A TV Chest, A Bar, And Then Windfall
In 1970, a chest was sold to a French engineer for the kingly sum of $160. This man used the stout and sturdy chest as a TV stand for almost two decades at his South Kensington apartment, where he stayed while he worked for Shell Petroleum. He retired to Loire Valley in 1986 and then used this very chest as a bar. Finally, when he passed, his heirs called in auction specialists to appraise all his estate. The chest turned out to be the 17th century Japanese Mazarin chest, considered to be lost for years. Needless to say, it was auctioned off for a whopping $9.5 million! Talk about a legacy.
24 A Dilapidated Snowboard Worth 30K
For anyone into snow sports, and especially snowboarding, Burton snowboards are a well-known name. In 2015, an eBay user named "Vermontgirl77" acquired a storage locker. In it, she came across two vintage Burton snowboards. The Burton snowboard company came into effect in 1977, so yes, she did think correctly that these old steals could be of some value. She put one of the snowboards up on eBay and it sparked a bidding war. This did prove that old is indeed gold for her vintage Burton snowboard sold for a cool $30,100. We don’t know what happened to the other one; presumably, she went to have it officially appraised.
23 A Fortune From A Long-Forgotten Modest Investment
Ever had an epiphany of sorts when an old and forgotten investment suddenly turned into a gold mine? Well, Kristoffer Koch certainly did. In 2009, he invested a measly $26.60 in bitcoins because he read about them while he was working on a thesis about encryption. Intelligent much? He then forgot about them. When the bitcoins began to emerge as an investment option in 2013, he remembered his share. Curious, he tried to gain access to his investment. By then he had forgotten his private key too, but after eventually figuring it out, he was a happy man. His account had 5000 bitcoins worth $886,000. Talk about a good investment!
22 An Old Sweater Isn’t Always Just An Old Sweater
Brothers Sean and Rikki McEvoy were browsing for warm clothes in a thrift shop in Knoxville, Tennessee. They found a sweater and paid less than a buck for it. We don’t know if it drove the chill away, but it definitely drove away any blues the McEvoys were having. Sean was watching a documentary on football, and the name of Vince Lombardi came up. Sean remembered that the sweater he had bought carried the same name. And after careful veracity, it was indeed found to be Vince Lombardi’s old sweater. And so he managed to sell his thrifty buy for a very cool $43,200. That’s enough to drive any chills away…
21 The Bowl Of Fortune
Sometimes, garage sales can be really lucrative for the buyer who ends up buying a treasure for a ludicrous price. But it can also be sad for the seller who basically gave away a fortune for loose change! A family in New York chanced upon a Chinese bowl at a garage sale and bought it for a mere $3. It didn’t look like much, being some 5-inches in diameter, ceramic, and with a saw-toothed pattern etched on the outside rim. It turned out to be a bowl from the Northern Song Dynasty, which ruled China from 960 to 1127. This 1000-year-old bowl was finally sold for a whopping $2.2 million.
20 A $6 Dollar Watch Can Be A Great eBay Sale
Sometimes, you need to have a watchful eye as well. Zach Norris went to a Goodwill store in Phoenix, Arizona because he wanted to buy a golf bag. While browsing, he got waylaid by the watch section where he spotted a vintage 1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm wristwatch. It was in good shape, so he bought it for $5.99. He then got the watch authenticated and put it up on eBay. After a bidding war, he finally got to sell the watch for $35,000 and a $4,000 Omega Master. Considering he was getting married, this was one cool nest egg.
19 A Fancy Frame That Turned Into A Pricey Painting
An antique dealer spotted a painting in a rather pricey-looking frame in a thrift shop in Anderson, South Carolina. The frame was attractive enough for him to buy it for a measly $3. His assumption at that point was to make a few hundred dollars off the frame and ditch the painting. However, he decided to get the painting appraised first. Luckily for him, and for the painting, he made the right decision. The painting turned out to be from 1650 and pretty valuable. Instead of the few hundred dollars he had expected to make, he made a few hundred thousand – $190,000, to be exact.
18 Lost A Hammer, Found A Horde
In 1992, a farmer lost his hammer in one of his fields and enlisted the help of a friend to find it, using a metal detector. So he and his friend set off but did not find the hammer. What they ended up finding in a field in the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, England is now known as the Hoxne’s Hoard. It totalled 24 bronze coins, 565 gold coins, 14,191 silver coins, plus many gold and silver spoons, jewelry, and statues. And it all dated back to the Roman Empire. By law, it had to be reported to the British authorities who had to pay fair market value to the farmer and his friend. So they ended up splitting a cool $2.3 million.
17 Old Cars Are Not Always Junk
A Massachusetts storage facility had been housing a 1966 Ford Mustang for long, until it was decided the car needed to be sold off. Now, this particular Mustang was actually a 1966 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350H Fastback, and this technical name means that it was one of Carroll Shelby’s personal cars. It was powered by a small block 289 V8 engine that generated 306 horsepower and had a three-speed automatic transmission. It was frankly a rather interesting experiment for Shelby at the time. But just the Shelby tag was enough to have it sold for $159,500. Enough to buy six new Ford Mustangs!
16 When That Special Egg Turns Extra Special
Sometimes the find is all the better because the buyer knows the actual value of the product. A scrap dealer bought a Fabergé egg at a flea market and paid a rather dear price for it at $14,000. Most of us would hesitate to do this, but the dealer realized that the egg was made of gold and he could melt it down and sell it for a profit. Before he actually melted the egg, it came to be known that this particular egg was an Easter gift from Czar Alexander III to his wife Maria Feodorovna in 1887. Its preciousness far surpassed the value of the gold or the jewels and it finally sold for a jaw-dropping $33 million!
15 Congratulations, He Got The Job And You Got A Fortune
When Michael Jordan was accepted into the North Carolina University by coach Dean Smith, little did they both know that they’d soon be rewriting the history of American basketball. And when a man in North Carolina bought a storage locker, little did he know that he’d be doing the same, too. In a box, this man found two recruitment letters addressed to Michael Jordan – one by basketball coach Dean Smith and the other by the assistant coach, Bill Guthridge. After proving the veracity of the documents, the auction brought the man a cool $50,000 fortune. And we all know what they had originally brought to Michael Jordan. Fame and fortune galore!
14 Buy A Couch, Get A Painting Worth 27K Free
At a Berlin thrift store, a student purchased an old pullout couch for a not-so-cheap sum of $215. Clearly, the thrift store buy wasn’t much of a steal, until the student installed it home and opened it. Inside the couch, a tiny oil painting was discovered. The student could have hung the painting on his wall and forgotten all about it, but instead, it was taken to be appraised. And it was then found to be a painting dating back to 1605 to 1620. The painter was an unknown artist close to Venetian artist Carlo Saraceni, and the painting was titled “Preparation to Escape from Egypt.” It was sold for $27,630 and for a student. That’s a princely sum indeed.
13 Finders Keepers, Even When It’s A Giant Diamond
In Arkansas, there’s the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Here, you are free to dig in for diamonds and the best thing is if you find one – it is all yours. The park sits on a volcanic pipe and is the only diamond site in the world that is open to the public. It magnanimously allows finders to keep their diamonds – no matter the price. So in 1924, WO Basham found a giant – a 40.23-carat diamond, which remains the largest diamond ever found in North America. It was named the Uncle Sam Diamond and later cut down to 12.42 carats in 1971, and sole for $150,000 then. Today, that means a whopper of a price at $800,000!
12 An Old Harley Is Worth More Than Our Cars
If you have an old and dilapidated Harley Davidson languishing in your great grand pappy’s garage, it’s time to sit up and take heed. In a storage unit in Melbourne, Australia, a 1927 Harley-Davidson 8-valve racer with the original sidecar had been collecting dust forever. Rather, it had been collecting dust for some 50 years until it was finally rediscovered in 2015. After getting cleaned up a tad, it headed to the auction. We don’t know whether it ran or could ever run, but it still fetched a very handsome price of $424,000. Sometimes old junkers are not junkers at all, but collectibles.
11 Number 36 Of The Declaration of Independence
There was once a dude who bought a painting for $4, found an original copy of the Declaration of Independence inside and got a cool $2.4 million for his troubles. But good things can happen twice over. So when Michael Sparks bought a few odds and ends at a Nashville thrift store, including a yellowed print of the Declaration of Independence for under $3, he decided to have it valued. It turned out to be legit, one of the 200 copies so commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. Sparks spent a year having it authenticated and preserved and finally sold it for $477,650!
10 When a 007 Steed Disappears And Then Reappears Out Of Nowhere
In the 1977 Bond flick, The Spy Who Loved Me, a rather dashing Roger Moore drives his car into the water, and it turns into a submarine right then and there. This “submarine” was a custom Lotus Esprit submarine, dubbed “Wet Nellie.” It was an actual submarine, with the body looking like that of the Lotus Esprit. It was also a wet sub, which means the driver had to wear a scuba suit since the interiors turned wet. After the movie, the car was placed in a pre-paid storage locker for ten years. When no one came to claim the locker, it was bought by someone for $100. Later, this very submarine was sold to Elon Musk for $700,000.
9 When An Old Curio Turns You Into A Millionaire
In 2000, Rick Norsigian was out looking for a barber chair when he spotted two dilapidated boxes on a shelf. Inside, he found photographic plates with the images of Yosemite on them. Since he liked Yosemite and had once worked there, he decided to buy them and haggled the price down from $70 to $45. The boxes lay forgotten for four years until Norsigian decided to have the plates valued. These plates turned out to be the work of iconic American photographer Ansel Adams, taken between 1919 and 1930. They were assumed to have been lost in a fire. Their valuation turned out to be a whopping $200 million that made Norsigian go weak in the knees.
8 First-Time Metal Detecting Toddler Strikes Big
A toddler and his father went on a fun expedition with a metal detector when the three-year-old James Hyatt heard it go “beep-beep-beep.” Upon digging, the Hyatts found a gold pendant, weighing just about 10g. Ten grams of gold isn’t terribly expensive but this pendant turned out to be a medieval one, about 500 years old. It was engraved with the Virgin Mary and the five wounds of Christ. And this lucky first-time find was valued at about $4 million, which the Hyatts claim they will share with the field’s owner in case the pendant is sold for that much. Talk about beginner’s luck!
7 The Fortune Lay Behind The Painting
Art collector and businessman Andy Fields bought five paintings for just $5 at a garage sale in Las Vegas. Truly, there was nothing great or valuable about the paintings, until he flipped one around. Behind one of the paintings, he found a sketch of the 1930s singer Rudy Vallee, drawn and signed by none other than Andy Warhol. This nondescript sketch, forever hidden and languishing behind another painted canvas, is worth a whopping $2 million. So before you sell or buy a painting, it might be a good idea to flip it over to be sure, lest you give away a fortune for a pittance!
6 A Long-Lost Relic, Found Outside A Toilet
There were two parts of a beautiful 17th-century cabinet. The top half was with Sotheby’s, so requested and reserved by a client. But the bottom half was a beautiful giltwood stand, feared to be lost forever, until it was found outside a toilet in a pizza parlor in Yorkshire, England. It was discovered by the head of furniture at Sotheby’s, Mario Tavella, thus ending his 20-year long search. Once both the pieces were reunited, they went up for auction and were sold for a mammoth $1.6 million. Tavella called it the most important piece of Roman baroque furniture to have gone up for sale in the recent history.
5 Renovating The Basement? Search Nooks & Crannies
A couple bought and began to renovate an old home, making it fit for them to live and raise a family in. All the floors were done except the basement, and so the man decided to tackle it head-on. He was removing the rotting beams from his ceilings when he saw an old lunchbox in a nook. When the couple opened it, they found it crammed with old bills, some of them so old that their face value was ten times over. A few days later while the wife was away, the husband found another box. The grand total came to be $45,000 and the couple got to keep it all under American estate laws. Renovation can be so rewarding at times...
4 Is It A Jackson Pollock Or Not?
Teri Horton is a retired truck driver who went to a local thrift store to buy her depressed friend a gag gift in 1992. There she found a large, chaotic painting. She haggled over the asking price of $8 and paid only $5 for the same. The friend didn’t want it so Horton tried to sell it off in a garage sale. There, an art teacher told her to check it for authenticity, as it might be a Jackson Pollock. A now old and panhandling Teri Horton is still holding out for a fair price of some $50 million, having turned down an offer of $9 million once.
3 A Priceless Painting To Cover An Unsightly Hole
An Indiana resident went into a thrift shop to buy a painting, any kind of painting, to cover an unsightly hole in the wall of his home. So he bought this one and paid $30 for it. He hung it up on the wall, covering the hole, and forgot about it until he was once playing a game that featured famous works of art. Needless to say, a very similar painting caught his eye, and his jaw dropped. When he went to get it appraised and authenticated, it turned out to be the work of famous American still-life painter, Martin Johnson Heade. The painting finally sold for $1.2 million, enough to buy this man a new home.
2 A Plinking Cup Turns Out To Be Ancient Treasure
As a young boy, John Weber was given an old cup by his grandfather. It was old, dented and scratched, so the boy assumed it was worthless. He never threw it away but used it as target practice with his air rifle all through his childhood. Life happened and he put it in storage somewhere and forgot about it, until he turned 70. Then he decided to have it appraised. It turned out to be a 2,300-year-old Persian gold cup that sold for $99,000 in 2008. Clearly, sometimes grandparents do inadvertently gift you things of enormous value, even if you thought they were worthless. Weber must be thanking his grandfather profusely in his prayers.
1 Just Another Old Vase? Definitely Not
Anthony Pinner and his mother began to clear out her sister's house, and they assumed one old vase might be worth something, so they had it appraised. The local auctioneer was pretty excited by it and valued the vase between $1.2 and $1.5 million. When it finally headed for auction, it went for an unheard of price of more than $69 million! Needless to say, mother and son were both stunned at the windfall that this 18th-century Qianlong Dynasty porcelain vase brought them. However, the Chinese billionaire who bought it has been quibbling over the fee of the auctioneers and neither the vase nor the money has exchanged hands until now. The Pinners must be on pins and needles!
References: MentalFloss.com, TheGuardian.com, Guff.com, MSN.com
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