Rummaging through others peoples clutter has been a pastime for many, cause well "it was 99 cents". Submitted by YouTuber user Pluto545, we were happy to go picking through the articles, finding those who found valuable items at garage sales, thrift shops, estate sales or flea markets. From a painting of flowers to a few simple photographs, here are 10 finds worth millions.
Ansel Adams Lost Negatives
Acquired at a garage sale for $45 by Rick Norsigian in Fresno, California, they were subsequently kept under his pool table for four years before he decided to investigate their origin. The man he had purchased them from said he bought them in the 1940s from a salvage warehouse in Los Angeles, California. After a six-month examination, a team of experts concluded that the 65 negatives were of the famed nature photographer, Ansel Adams. These negatives were believed to be his earlier works, lost in a fire that destroyed his Yosemite National Park studio in 1937 due to some of them being charred around the edges. Combined, they are assessed to be worth at least $200 million dollars.
Imperial Faberge Egg
Not much is known of the man who found this lost treasure in a flea market, except that he hailed from the Midwest United States and purchased the egg for an easy metal scrap profit, just to have severely underestimated the value of the metal it contained. Purchased for $14,000 dollars, the egg sat on a kitchen counter for years, until a Google search of "Vacheron Constantin" followed by the word "egg" turned up a 2011 article in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, describing a lost Faberge Egg. The purchaser took pictures to London and talked to a Faberge expert, Kieran McCarthy, where they then authenticated it to be a lost Imperial Faberge Egg from the Russian royal family. The decorated egg is estimated to worth upwards of $30 million dollars.
King Henry VII Tudor Bed
The intricately carved ornate bed was left in a parking lot of the former Redland House Hotel in Chester, northern England, by builders renovating the property. Ian Coulson spotted the piece and bought the bed for $4,000 in 2010. He then approached Jonathan Foyle for authenticity, who obtained DNA from parts of the bed and confirmed that it belonged to the monarch and is the only known surviving Tudor bed. Mr. Foyle is backed by other experts such as Diarmaid MacCulloch, a professor of the history of the church at Oxford University, describing the rediscovery as "exceptionally important". The Tudor bed is estimated to be worth $28.5 million, but is currently not up for sale and instead resides on public display as part of the "A Bed of Roses" exhibition at Hever Castle in Kent.
The French engineer who worked for Shell Petroleum purchased this gem for roughly $150 in 1970, used it as a TV stand in his South Kensington apartment for 16 years, then retired in Loire Valley in 1986, where he used it as a bar, and died before ever knowing its true value. In 2013, the engineer's family contacted the auction specialists of Rouillac to sell his estate, when Philippe Rouillac spotted the chest and suggested the family to get it appraised. The gold lacquered cedar box was owned by several historical figures, but disappeared in 1941 after its last owner, Sir Clifford Cory, passed away. The chest disappeared and was considered lost, leaving
London's Victoria and Albert Museum searching for the relic for 80 years. It was auctioned to Amsterdam's National Museum, Rijksmuseum, on June 9th, 2013, for $9.5 million dollars.
John Constable Painting
An art enthusiast paid roughly $5,000 in 2013 for a painting of a 19th century English landscape at a London Auction that turned out to be "Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadow", painted by John Constable, a famous English countryside landscape artist. Originally thought to be a fake, Anne Lyles, a former 18th and 19th century British art curator for Tate gallery in London, wrote that the painting was heavily retouched approximately in the late 19th or 20th century, in a misguided attempt to finish the painting. The experts appraised the painting to be worth around $2 to $3 million dollars, but sold for $5.2 million at Sotheby's auction in Manhattan in early 2015.
Billy the Kid Photo
Buying three old photographs at a Fresno, California thrift shop as a miscellaneous lot in 2010, Randy Guijarro, a U.S. history buff, studied the 4 by 5 inch image with the others closely, soon realizing he may have an important 19th century historical item. Taking it to Kagin's Inc., a San Francisco company specializing in U.S. gold coins and Western Americana, it was eventually verified to be the only 2nd known image of Henry McCarty, also known as William Bonney. Depicting Billy the Kid playing croquet with his accomplices, the Regulators, this is also the only known photo to feature his gang. Experts have estimated the value of the photograph to be as much as $5 million dollars.
Declaration of Independence
A Philadelphia financial analyst bought an old painting with a depiction of a country scene at a flea market in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, for its frame in 1989, costing him $4. Investigating a tear in the canvas, the frame fell apart upon detaching it from the painting, but lead him to the discovery of a folded document appearing to be the Declaration of Independence. Urged by a friend who collected Civil War memorabilia to get it appraised, he would come to find out that it was in fact an original Dunlap broadside, one of 500 official copies from the first printing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Going up for auction, it doubled its estimated $1.2 million dollar appraisal, selling for $2.42 million dollars in June of 1991. The story doesn't end there, though - in June 2000, the same document resurfaced, fetching an $8.14 million dollar bid from television producer Norman Lear in an online auction.
Northern Song Dynasty Bowl
In 2007, a New York family purchased a ceramic bowl about five inches in diameter that had a sawtooth pattern etched around the outside for $3, and left it on their mantle for years to come. Eventually, having the bowl looked at by experts, it was determined that it was a 1,000 year old Chinese bowl created during the Northern Song Dynasty, which was known for its cultural and artistic advances during its period, roughly between 960 and 1127 AD. The only other known bowl of similar size and design was in a collection owned by the British Museum for over 60 years. Experts estimated that it was worth between $200,000 and $300,000, but the final auction price, made by London dealer Giuseppe Eskenazi, was 10 times that amout, with a final bid of $2.2 million dollars.
Andy Warhol Sketch
Andy Fields, an art collector from Tiverton, England, bought five sketches at a Las Vegas garage sale for five dollars in 2010. Although the seller informed him that they used to belong to his aunt who watched over the Warhol child, Mr. Fields thought nothing of it. When he decided to reframe one of the sketches, he found a picture drawn by Andy Warhol tucked behind its frame. Having it validated, its appraiser estimated the sketches were drawn by Warhol when he was 9 or 10, and to be worth $2.1 million dollars. Mr. Fields has no intention of selling the sketch anytime soon and has hopes it will be featured in a museum show.
Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth
Found in Indiana for $30, along with a few pieces of used furniture, the purchaser, who wishes to remain anonymous, originally bought the painting to cover a hole in a wall that was bugging him. Some years later, while enjoying the board game Masterpiece, similar photos of his painting within the game made him curious, so he decided to do some research. Finding Kennedy Galleries in Manhattan, who handles most of this artist's work, they came to the conclusion that the painting was authenticate. As it turns out, the painting was one from nineteenth century painter, Martin Johnson Heade. In 1999, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, purchased the painting for $1.25 million dollars.