We have all wished something like this would happen to us. You go for a stroll in the backyard, or finally start digging in the garden after a year of nagging from your spouse. Maybe you finally get around to remodeling the attic so you can finally store your boxes. You could be shopping at a garage sale and looking for something unique and cheap. And suddenly, when you look down, there it is. The most beautiful thing in the world. FREE MONEY in the form of jewels, Civil War memorabilia, flat out money, or something that you secretly pray is a hidden treasure that no one has stumbled upon until you showed up. With shows like Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, Diggers and Antiques Roadshow, we have seen and heard stories of people finding random things in their houses, backyards or yard sales/thrift stores (like coins, jewelry, books, art, whatever) that they got for little to nothing and now it’s worth MILLIONS! We watch their reactions on television, and say to ourselves/family, “Why can’t that happen to me?! Who are these people?! How can that be worth that much money when it’s the UGLIEST THING I have EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE?!?!” True enough that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but as any business man/auctioneer will tell you, “Sure, that's the estimated value, but what are people actually willing to pay for it?” So sit back, relax, and read this list of 10 people who essentially found free money, and perhaps you will find that motivation to do that yard work that’s been on the “To Do” list since last year.
I know. Really…, a comic book made this list. Yes, yes it did AND it’s not just ANY comic book you can buy at your local Comic Book Store. Check this out:
Back in the good ol’ days, when you were building a house, people didn't necessarily have things like “proper insulation” for insulating your home…, or they ran out when building it and didn't want to spend more money. Solution? Stuff the holes with paper! At least, that’s how homeowner and general contractor David Gonzalez found the comic in question. He was remodeling his house in Minnesota and he found, shoved in the walls with old newspapers the rare 1938 Action Comics Issue #1. For those of you who don’t know why that comic has value, it has a lot of value because not only is it number one, but this issue also introduced a character by the name of Superman. Even if you aren’t a nerd/geek, if you don’t know who Superman is, Google it, then watch three seasons of The Big Bang Theory, and then you will get why this is a big deal. Gonzalez had purchased the house for $10,100. When the comic got sold at auction, it sold for $175,000.
9 Where’s my hammer?!?
Don’t you hate it when you are working on something, and you need that one thing to work with and you can’t find it anywhere? We all do.
In Suffolk, England in ’92, a farmer lost a hammer in one of the fields he had. He knew a neighbour that had a metal detector so he asked his neighbour if he could borrow the detector to find the tool (he probably needed it right at that moment). His neighbour, Eric Lawes, agreed to help the farmer with the detector and off the two went in search of the hammer. However, what they found was indeed no hammer, but in fact pure, sweet, precious MONEY! Old money to be exact. 565 gold coins, 14,191 silver coins AND 24 bronze coins…, probably very old pennies. Not only that, they also found silverware (in gold AND silver), jewelry and statues, all dating back to the Roman Empire. However, in England, it’s not “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers”; you actually have to call it in. The local authorities called it a “Treasure Trove” which meant it was now the property of the government…, BUT, because of that, the government is required to pay a “finders fee” at fair market value for the loot. Needless to say, the farmer and Lawes split almost $3,000,000 USD. The status of the hammer is unknown (although, the farmer probably bought a new one by now).
8 This will cover it; no problem!
So, you had a rough weekend. And the damage has not only been done to your bank account, but to your house (or your parents’ house) as there is now a giant hole in the wall where only wall existed before. You need something quick, cheap and fast to cover the hole. What do you do?
Well, a man in Indiana didn't necessarily have the same story BUT he did spend $30 at a thrift shop on some furniture and a painting with some nice flowers on it that fit perfectly over a hole in his wall that had been bugging him for a while. Skip ahead a few years, as with any hole that is covered, you forget it’s even there. The man ended up playing a game with his friends called Masterpiece. Basically, it’s an art game in which the highest bidder wins the piece of art…, sounds…, like fun??? However, he noticed that on one of the cards had a painting with flowers on it and it was strikingly similar to the infamous hole covering. Turns out, yup…, real deal. After having the painting authenticated, it was discovered that the painting was an unknown piece by American still-life artist Martin Johnston Heade. The painting is now named “Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth” and in ’99, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas purchased the painting for $1.2 million.
But…, what about the hole?!
7 Hey! Let’s get a couch!
No, this one doesn't take place at West Virginia University; keep the couch burning ritual alive! But before you do, make sure you read this as it is very important. It involves a student, and a couch but it’s in Germany…, but it could happen here!
Like most students who move out from their folks' to live on their own, or with roommates, the time comes when you realize that you can’t sit on the floor forever…, as it is extremely uncomfortable and getting back up from the ground to get food from the fridge is annoying. So, a German went to a place where even students can get cheap furniture: the flea market. She purchased a pullout couch for $215 and brought it back to her new abode. What she discovered though when she unfolded the sofa was actually pretty cool. It was a 10x15” oil painting, done between 1605 and 1620 by an unknown Venetian artist who is close to Carlo Saraceni and is called, “Preparation to Escape to Egypt.” The identity of the student has not been revealed, however, when the painting was sold at a Hamburg art auction, it sold for a cool $27,650. The only question I have is this:
Who buys a couch, at a flea market, for two hundred and fifteen bucks?!? Yes, great return on investment but c’mon. Barter a little; especially if you are a WVU student.
6 Oh yeah! I forgot I put that there.
We've all done it so there’s no denying it! We have all taken something that was important to us, or a surprise for someone for the holidays, wrapped it, and hidden it somewhere in our house so that NO ONE, not even ourselves can find it…, and then we forget about it until years later when we are looking for something else, perhaps a hammer, and THAT’S when we find it.
The painting had originally been in the possession of a German baroness who left it to a lady-in-waiting when it arrived in the US in 1883. The lady-in-waiting was the sister-in-law to Martin Kober’s great-grandfather, so naturally it became a family heirloom. And now we pick up the story in the ‘80s. Meet Martin Kober. Lieutenant Colonel Martin Kober, who lives in Buffalo, New York. The story is that back in the day (in the ‘80’s), the painting in question was sitting on the wall above the mantle when a tennis ball came and knocked it off the wall. Wanting to protect the painting, the owners at that time wrapped up the painting and put it behind the couch to protect it from any damage. Skip, skip, skip, someone did some cleaning behind a couch and behold; the painting was rediscovered. What is it? It’s a Pieta. For those of you who don’t know, a Pieta is generally a sculpture depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, cradling the dead body of Jesus. The most famous Pieta was sculpted by Michelangelo and is located in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Now, here’s the deal: A lot of debate has been had over this painting on whether or not it’s a real Michelangelo or not, and since Mikey was known for not signing his artwork, it makes the task THAT much harder to prove. If you Google and do the research yourself, you can form an opinion on what you believe, but know this: if this is the real deal, Kober found an heirloom that is worth up to $300 million. BEHIND THE COUCH!!!!
5 Can you help me sell this on eBay?
Back in the old days, when we had something we didn't use/need anymore, we would either donate it, trade it in (if applicable) or follow in the favored weekend tradition of a Yard/Garage Sale. Although these methods are still used, we now have the pleasure of the internet and social media. That’s right, when you have used items that you or no one in your household uses anymore, you can post it onto many different websites like Facebook or the most common one being eBay. And that’s what one woman ALMOST did.
Bernice Gallego was in her home and was going through a box of things in her basement. She stumbled across an old baseball card. She and her husband are antique collectors and knowing that sometimes these things can be worth money, she posted it on eBay to sell. She thought about it and posted the card for sale at $10.00. After a flurry of inquiries and bidding on eBay, and a visit from her friend, she decided the pull the card off of eBay and have it checked out. Turns out the card was actually one of the first baseball cards ever created; it was an 1869 Red Stocking B.B. Club of Cincinnati card, and it was in pretty good shape. After she had it authenticated, she put it up for auction.
Sold for $75, 285. The catch? Bernice hadn't even been to a baseball game in her life!
4 It’s not even real!
Michael Sparks was visiting a thrift shop in Nashville, TN when he came across something that was neat but he thought was worthless. Sparks paid $2.48 for a yellowed “reprint” of the Declaration of Independence. Notice that reprint is in quotation marks? Yup!
After Sparks had it for a few days, he began to wonder if his "reprint" was older than he thought and not just some reprint. It took Spark’s a year to have it authenticated but, as it turns out, Sparks had purchased one of only 200 official copies of the Declaration of Independence that had been commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820. And he found lucky number 36. Sparks put it up for auction and banked $477, 650. God Bless America.
3 Just goin’ for a stroll in the backyard.
A California couple, who have chosen to remain anonymous (for good reason) were doing just that; goin’ for a walk on the edge of their property, when they noticed something was sticking out from the ground. Naturally curious, they dug out a can using a stick, wiped off the dirt from the top and brought it back home. Turns out they hit a gold mine…, almost literally. After having it authenticated, and going out and finding more on their property, the couple realized that they had uncovered one of the greatest buried treasures in the history of the US. It’s literally, gold coins. The coins date back to 1847 and they found them in about eight different cans. Although the coins have a face value of more than $28,000, based on supply and demand of coin collectors everywhere, the coins could end up being worth over TEN MILLION DOLLARS.
WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?!?
2 Oh yeah, my family owns an emerald mine!
We all have dreams. And some of us have responsibilities to our families and to the enterprises/empire that we are expected to take over when our parents/grandparents have passed on. But what if both our dreams and those enterprises coincide?
Meet James Hill. His friends thought he was nuts for going into debt to the tune of over $200,000 when he dropped out of college and gave up drifting through jobs so that he could do the one thing he loved more than anything else: search for buried treasure. Emerald treasure to be exact. And in 1998, he finally hit paydirt. In November, while mining in the family mine that had been inactive for over two years, he actually uncovered what could’ve possibly been Hiddenite, but turned out to be a whopping 88-carat emerald. A few months later, when Hill went back to the same spot as he found the 88-carat emerald, he hit it lucky again and found two more emeralds; one between 35-40 carats, and the other weighing in at over a MIND BLOWING 100-carats. How much is that worth? Well, let’s just say that the 88-carat emerald was actually cut down into 2 different polished gems; one at 18.8 carats and the other at 7.8 carats. The smaller one…, sold for $500,000. Sometimes, you gotta just keep diggin’.
1 I don’t care, she can't have it, not even over my dead body!
The sons of Don Tratche Jr. saw just how clever he was when they were going through the home of their deceased father. And in going through the house, they discovered a false wall. But not just any false wall; turns out in behind the wall were numerous valuable works of art BUT the most notable one was actually one done by Norman Rockwell. The painting entitled “Breaking Home Ties” was authenticated and sold at auction for over a cool $15 million. However, the brothers were confused by it at first…, since they had seen the painting hanging on their dad’s wall. Turns out that Mr. Tratche Jr. didn't want the boys mother to get her hands on the real deal during their divorce and had a copy of the painting made and even when he was dying, Tratche Jr. made no mention of the artworks, both the copy and the real one. You know…, just in case.