15 Times People’s Random Possessions Turned Out To Be Worth A Fortune
Most of us have a drawer or a box full of junk stashed somewhere in our homes that we just can’t bring ourselves to throw out, no matter how tempted we might get. And while in most instances, that junk would just continue to collect dust until it becomes your children’s’ problem, there are cases where said junk turned out to be worth a hefty fortune!
Today we have a collection of stories where people’s seemingly random possessions turned out to be worth a fortune, and they might inspire you to go through that junk drawer once again. Who knows – maybe that ugly brooch your great grandmother left you is actually worth a small fortune? Check out all the times people’s random things made them big money in the gallery below!
#1 A diamond ring—worth $607K
Image source: Queensmith
Debra Goddard, a woman from West London, bought a glass ring at a boot sale back in 1986 for merely $13. For 33 years, she believed it to be pretty much worthless, until she had to sell a lot of her belongings when her mother lost all her money due to a relative’s fraud. It was then when Debra found out that the ring had a 26.27-carat diamond. “When I went to the jeweler, he nearly fainted and said, ‘Do you know what this is? It’s a diamond.’ I sat up all night looking at it, wondering what to do,” Debra told the media. The woman brought the ring to an auction and earned a whopping $607,900. Debra revealed that she spent most of her money on her mother, as she believed “it’s karma for the bad things that happened and my mum being robbed of everything.” She revealed that she’s taken her mom to “holidays in Barbados, see Tom Jones, Celine Dion in Vegas and bought a fur coat.”
#2 Faberge Egg—worth $20M
Image source: The Jewellery Editor
One scrap metal entrepreneur bought a golden egg for about $14,000, hoping he could make some profit when reselling the piece due to its precious metal content. Turns out, the scrap metal dealer found one of the eight missing Faberge imperial eggs at a flea market in the American Midwest.
The dealer began to suspect he had something truly rare after reading an article online about an imperial Faberge Easter egg made for Russian royalty. He contacted Kieran McCarthy of Wartski, who specializes in Russian artifacts, who confirmed that the egg was in fact genuine and negotiated its sale to a collector.
Both the buyer and seller of the Faberge Easter egg wanted to remain anonymous, and the price of the rare piece was also not disclosed. However, experts guess that the egg is worth somewhere up to $20 million.
#3 Declaration Of Independence—worth $2.42m
In 1776, 500 copies of the Declaration of Independence were printed and only 23 copies were known to still exist before 1989. That same year, one man in Philadelphia bought an old painting at a flea market for $4 because he liked its frame. After it broke, the man discovered a document that appeared to be a copy of the Declaration of Independence tucked away between the canvas and its backing. Later on, the document was sold for $2.42 million at an auction.
#4 A giant pearl—worth $100M
Image source: Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao
When one fisherman’s anchor got stuck on what he thought was a rock during a storm, he took it with him as a good luck charm. The man found it back in 2006 in Palawan Island, Philippines and kept the 2-foot-long rock for 10 years at his house before it caught on fire and had to be cleared out. In 2016, he took the rock to a local tourism office in Puerto Princesca, where it was verified that the rock was actually a giant clam. Measuring at 1 foot wide and 2.2 feet long, the 34 kg giant pearl was said to be worth $100 million.
#5 Hand-Me-Down Navajo Blanket—worth $1.5M
Image source: verseinspire2
Back in 2007, one Californian man was barely getting by on disability checks after losing his leg in a car accident. “I had kids to take care of, no money. Nothing saved up or nothing like that,” Loren Krytzer looked back on that time. Around the same time, he inherited an old blanket after his grandmother died, which nobody in his family wanted. “I don’t want that, that dirty old thing,” he recalled his sister saying. One night, in 2011, Loren was watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow in which one man was shocked to find out that his First Phase Navajo blanket was actually worth around half a million dollars. The appraiser then explained that such textiles were super expensive even in their own era. “I paused it and I went and got the blanket and I’m sitting there holding it. … I’m lining up the lines on the TV with the blanket, seeing if they match,” Loren recalls. And he realized that they were nearly identical. Soon enough, Loren Krytzer walked into the California auction room unemployed, broke, and depressed, to walk out a millionaire—the old Navajo blanket from the 1800s that nobody in his family wanted turned out to be worth $1.5 million.
#6 Picasso plate—worth up to $15K
Image source: Antiques Roadshow PBS
In the 1970s, a woman who was a keen plate collector bought a plate in Rhode Island for under $100. The plate looked pretty, so she hung it on the wall of her kitchen. For years, it has been sitting above the stove, as “all of [the] kids loved the smiley face.” Around 2010, the woman went into a gallery and saw a plate that looked similar to the one above her stove. She told someone in the gallery that she had something nearly identical in her kitchen. The woman recalled on a TV show: “The guy sort of gasped and said, ‘Over your stove?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I have a plate collection.’ He said, ‘Do you know what you have?'” Apparently, she did not. What she did have was, in fact, a genuine work of Picasso from 1955. When she went to Antiques Roadshow, she learned that the plate could be worth somewhere from $10,000 to $15,000. “That’s fabulous,” the woman then said. See, it does pay off to collect things!
#7 Edmore meteorite—worth $100K
Image source: WoodTV8
For years, one man in Edmore, Michigan used this 22.5-pound hunk of iron as a doorstop on his farm. When he bought the farm back in the late ’80s, the previous owner told him that the iron chunk was in fact a meteorite from the ’30s. Only 30 years later did the farmer contact a geology professor from Central Michigan University to take a look at the rock, which was later confirmed to be an actual meteorite. The professor, Mona Sirbescu, later told USA Today: “The story goes that it was collected immediately after they witnessed the big boom and the actual meteorite was dug out from a crater.” She told the media that the story was passed down orally, with no eyewitnesses to verify it. Now, the meteorite that was named “Edmore” is known to be the sixth-largest to be found in Michigan and is worth $100K.
#8 John Constable painting—worth $400K
Image source: BBC News
Bought at an auction and kept in a cupboard for years, this small painting turned out to be worth almost half a million dollars. The postcard-sized painting was bought for merely 30 pounds (around $38) in the British city of Canterbury in the early 2000s. It depicts a 19th-century landscape, and has a faint signature on its back. The signature was what prompted its owner to show the painting to an antiques dealer and forgeries expert. “Our investigation confirms this thing has passed through a number of hands over the years and it’s never been sold—it’s a fresh-to-the-market, sweet little item,” the expert Curtis Dowling told Reuters. As it turned out, the landscape was painted by the 19th-century artist John Constable and is worth around $400,000.
#9 “Christ Mocked”— worth up to $6.6M
Image source: unknown
One elderly woman in Compiègne, France was about to sell her house, so she invited an auctioneer to assess the value of her belongings. The expert Philomène Wolf had a week to determine whether anything was worth saving before going into the dumpster. The auctioneer quickly noticed a small painting hanging above the hot plate in the kitchen. As it later turned out, the painting dates back to the 13th century and is a work of an Italian artist, Cimabue. Known as “Christ Mocked,” the masterpiece comes from a series of only 11 paintings depicting Jesus’ crucifixion. The house owner said that she’d had it so long she could not remember when or where she got the painting. “Christ Mocked,” which the French woman believed to be just an “old religious icon from Russia,” turned out to be worth somewhere from $4 million to $6.6 million.
#10 A possible photo of Billy the Kid—worth $5M
Image source: Unknown
Back in 2015, an unsuspecting man bought a photo in an antique shop in Freemont, CA for $2. As it later turned out, the picture featured the notorious Billy the Kid and members of the Lincoln County gang playing croquet together. Being only the second confirmed photo of the infamous thief of the 19th century, the 1878 photo was valued upwards of $5 million. “Billy the Kid is incredibly famous,” David McCarthy, a senior numismatist at Kagin’s (a company that specializes in Western Americana and rare coins) told ABC News. “[But] he wasn’t shooting people all the time. He had friends he cared about. He had women he chased. It (the photograph) opens up the idea about the humanity of a character like Billy the Kid.”
#11 Diamond and ruby ring—worth $400K
Image source: Antiques Roadshow PBS
One woman inherited jewels from her great aunt, who was a wife of a congressman back in the 1920s. As they were examined on the TV show Antiques Roadshow back in 1998, the experts realized that she had a dual-diamond pendant that was worth $12,000, and a diamond and ruby ring worth $80,000. Moreover, a diamond bracelet with rubies was worth a whopping $165,000. In 2013, experts from the show told the media that the value of the items has increased since the first time the episode aired in 1998. By today’s values, the pieces are worth somewhere around $400,000.
#12 Apple I Computer—worth $200K
Image source: ArnoldReinhold
Back in 2015, a woman dropped off an old Apple computer at a recycling center in Silicon Valley. She found it inside boxes of electronics that she had cleaned out of her garage after her husband passed away. Victor Gichun, the vice president of the Clean Bay Area, said that the mystery woman didn’t want a tax receipt and didn’t leave any contact information. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the workers of the recycling center opened the boxes only to discover an Apple I computer inside.
As the media then reported, it was one of only about 200 first-generation desktop computers assembled by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne in 1976. The recycling firm sold the computer for $200,000 to a private collector. The company gives 50 percent of items sold back to the original owner and wanted to do the same this time, but the woman who dropped off the valuable item was impossible to trace.
#13 Cherokee Satchel from 1800s—worth $145K
Image source: Antiques Roadshow PBS
In 2010, a woman from San Diego went to Antiques Roadshow. She brought in a satchel her great-grandfather, who was a lieutenant in the Army, had received from the Cherokee in 1846. The bag was a thank-you gift from a Cherokee warrior, who wanted to thank the said great-grandfather for being kind to his people. The woman had a letter from her great-grandfather to prove it, while the satchel itself was authenticated by an expert in tribal arts. “The bag itself probably dates to the 1820s. I think this bag, in its present condition, if it did not have this very important document that tracks its history across the country, would be about $25,000,” then said the appraiser Ted Trotta. With the document and restauration (that would cost up to $8000), the piece would be worth somewhere closer to $100,000. However, in 2013, the restored value of the bag went up to $145,000!
#14 Hand-me-down baseball cards—worth $1M
Image source: Antiques Roadshow PBS
Five years ago, a woman brought in a set of old baseball memorabilia she had found in a desk drawer to Antiques Roadshow. The woman said she had inherited the collection from her great-great-grandmother who owned a boarding house in Boston in the mid-19th century. The collection comprised cards for Boston Red Stockings players and a letter signed and addressed to the said great-great-grandmother. “To see them all in one group like that,” the executive producer of the show then said. “None of the experts associated with Roadshow have ever seen them all in one place that way.” When the big moment of the show came when the appraisers announced the worth of the collection, the woman was overwhelmed with emotion. $1 million! That’s how much the baseball memorabilia was actually worth. The woman was understandably ecstatic, as she had assumed it would be worth no more than $5-10 thousand.
#15 Jaeger-LeCoultre watch—worth $35K
Image source: Zach Norris
One Arizona resident was visiting a Phoenix Goodwill back in 2015 in search of a used push golf cart. There, he came across a variety of old watches. One of them attracted his attention—he noticed a $5.99 watch with a dial that read “LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm.” Coincidentally, the man was a watch collector who had a particular interest in vintage watches. He realized that the watch might be worth way more than $5.99, but wasn’t sure about its exact value. Therefore, he decided to take it to an authorized retailer in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was there that the man discovered that the timepiece was a rare 1959 LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm, one of the first watches ever to feature an alarm used by divers. Quickly enough, after sharing his find on a “Vintage Watches” Facebook page, the man was overwhelmed by emails from collectors from all around the world, eager to buy the LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm. Eventually, he sold it for $35,000. Not a bad profit from something that you got for merely $5.99, right?