It's worth how much?!? Part III

In our 'It's worth how much?!' blog series, we explore ten items that have been hidden away for quite some time to then be revealed worth more than what anyone could imagine. Could there be a priceless masterpiece lurking in your home? Lets take a look at these miraculous findings.

Antique Furniture

1. $200,000,000 Negatives

In 2000 avid bargain hunter Rick Norsigian spotted two weathered boxes at a garage sale in Southern California. After whittling the price down from $70 to $45,he purchased the boxes and once home, found that they contained 6.5 x 8.5 inch glass plate negatives of famous Yosemite landscapes and San Francisco landmarks.

Ansel Adams

A few years later, Rick began to wonder if these negatives could be by some one famous as he had noticed a similarity of these images to others taken by renowned photographer Ansel Adams. With this idea, he under took years of research to find out who was the artist behind the negatives. After a great deal of verification including forensic investigations, handwriting specialists and weather experts, the 65 glass plates in the boxes were confirmed to be 80 year old lost images by the famed photographer. They have now been valued at $200,000,000.

2. €7,300,000 TV stand


In 1970 a French engineer living in South Kensington, London purchased a chest to rest his TV on for $160 USD. Over the years the man took it with him as he moved, where it saw regular practical use. When he retired to his native France, it looked as if this chest was destined to live out its day as a bar holding liquors and spirits.

After his death, his family decided to have his estate appraised and called specialists Rouillac to conduct the valuation. Rouillac immediately recognized the reliable TV stand was in fact a Seventh Century Japanese Lacquer box. The Master piece has now been identified as the largest of two Mazarin’s golden chests that was previously considered lost. In 2013 it sold for 7.3 million euros ($9.5 million).

3. £1,084,500 Pizza parlour table


In 2013 a missing section of a 17th century cabinet was found in a pizza parlour. Located outside the restaurant in Yorkshire restroom, it was only noticed when a Sotheby’s employee happened to take a close look while having a slice.

The table turned out to be the missing stand of a Roman baroque cabinet, which features a picture of the Pope blessing the crowd in Rome. Mario Travella of Sotheby’s had been looking for the missing console for 20 years and feared it had been lost. After being reunited with its counter parts the cabinet was sold for £1,084,500 at auction.

4. $ 477,650 Thrift Store purchase of American history

In 2012 a Nashville Tennessee man when to his local thrift store to buy a few things for his house including a candle stick holder, salt and pepper shakers and a replica Declaration of Independence for $2.48. Over the next year he did extensive research and found that he had one of the 200 original official copies of the 1820 Declaration commissioned by John Quincy Adams, number 36 to be precise.

After the document was authenticated and preserved, it was estimated to be worth $250,000. Amazingly, when sold at auction, it ended up almost doubling the original estimate and sold for $477,650

5. £250,000 Painting the size of a postcard


Over ten years ago, Robin Darvell picked up a cardboard box full of items for $46 (£30) as part of a job lot at an auction. Inside it was a small artwork which depicted a rural scene of a meadow, trees and a bright blue sky, about the size of a post card. With only a faint signature on the back, Darvell thought little of the piece and hid it away in a drawer.

It was his son Robert, who Darvell passed the work on to, who decided see if the artwork might just be something special. Over the next year and with the help of British TV show Treasure Detectives the work was analysed extensively and the painting was eventually identified as being a work by John Constable worth more than $390,000 (£250,000).

6. £125,000 Art bought at a street stall

In October 2013 renowned anonymous street artists Banksy set up a stall in Central Park to sell his works at vastly reduced prices. Believing he was just a skilled impersonator, several tourist bought pieces from here. In 2014 one such tourist sold two pieces that she had purchased for £70 at auction where they fetched £125,000, nearly 1,800 times their original purchase price.

7. £180,000 Cat bed

When downsizing, an elderly couple recently decided to clear out some clutter when moving house. One of the items they decided to sell was a bowl that their cat often used as a bed.

The bowl had been in their family for 114 years, originally brought back by one of their grandfathers from China in 1900. Most of the collection originally brought to Britain from China has been donated to Museums over the years. The family only held on to the pieces that were broken or chipped.

Chines Bowl

Because it was hard to date as well as being damaged, the auction house placed an estimate of £200 to £300 on it. However when the auction began it quickly exceeded that estimate and sold for £108,000. When asked about why the price rose so rapidly, the auctioneer commented: ‘I think the reason it did so well is because all of the lots had a cast-iron provenance…It has all been passed down through the family. The lots that sold are the last pieces of the collection.'

8. Cup used for target practice worth $99,000

As a boy, American John Weber, 70, was given a gold cup by his grandfather. Assuming it was a worthless brass trinket, Weber would often use the cup for target practice with his air rifle. Eventually the mug was placed in a show box under Weber’s bed where it stayed for years.Gold Cup

It wasn’t until packing to move that he decided to have this cup appraised and was shocked to find that the cup was a Persian gold treasure. It dated before the time of Alexander the Great and was beaten out of a single sheet of gold. Believed to be from the 3rd or 4th century, the piece was sold at auction for £50,000 ($99,000 USD) in 2008.

9. £70,000 vases in family’s hallway

Chinese Vases

When textile Magnate Henry Butterfield left his house to the council in 1949 he left along with it two massive 5ft vases. In 1970 the council decided to sell them and that’s when a West Yorkshire man bought them for a few hundred pounds.

Having sat in the family’s hall for 35 years, they decided the time was right to sell. The Auction house has now valued it at £70,000 making that 1970 purchase quite a profitable investment.

The 5ft tall porcelain pieces were made in the Far East in 1840 specifically for the export market.

10. $7,000 painting found in trash

15 years ago, a Chicago man found a painting in the trash and decided to take it home and frame it. He later discovered that his psychedelic painting was actually by underground artist Jay Lynch and was valued at $7,000. The painting from the 1960’s was Lynch’s take on a Chicago campaign billboard for sheriff.

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