From a painting in the trash, to a copy of a famous document, here are top 10 expensive
things found by accident.
“Three People” Painting
Elizabeth Gibson, from New York, was walking around Manhattan in 2003, when she saw a large,
colorful art piece sitting between two garbage bags in the street.
The painting looked like a modern art piece, and Elizabeth decided to take it home.
She wasn’t sure why she decided to take it, because she wasn’t all that into modern
art, but according to her own testimony - she felt the painting had a strange power.
Elizabeth Gibson spent the next four years gathering information about the painting,
trying to figure out who it was by and why someone had thrown it away!
Finally, she came across a website where she learnt all about it.
It was an abstract work, done by a Mexican artist, and the name of the painting was “Tres
Personajes”, or “Three People”.
Turns out it had been stolen 20 years ago from a storage unit and was the subject of
an FBI investigation.
How it got from a Houston storage unit to the streets of Manhattan remains a mystery.
It was auctioned off by the original owner at Sotheby's and was purchased for a staggering
As for Elizabeth Gibson, she got a $15,000 reward, as well as an undisclosed finders
fee from Sotheby's.
Not bad for your casual morning walk to get your coffee in Manhattan, right?
That’s New York for you!
Bathroom Cash When Bob Kitts, a remodeling designer from
Cleveland, Ohio, was hired as a contractor to work on a house, he probably wasn’t expecting
While he was tearing down the walls of an 83-year-old home, he discovered lockboxes
Inside were envelopes filled with cash from the 1920’s that amounted to $182,000!
The return address said “P. Dunne News Agency”.
As it turned out, the money belonged to a businessman named Patrick Dunne, who put the
money behind the bathroom walls during the Great Depression.
When he found the money, Bob Kitts decided to share the information with Amanda Reece,
the homeowner and former classmate who had hired him to do the renovation work.
They both agreed that the smartest thing to do would be to have the bills appraised.
Due to the fact that some bills were pretty rare and collectible, the total worth could
be half a million dollars!
But then things went sour.
Amanda offered Bob 10% of the findings, but he wanted 40%.
From then on, both of them, and Patrick Dunne’s estate (which includes 21 descendants), have
been involved in legal issues on how to split the money.
They have since all accused each other of leaving threatening messages and of being
The courts have determined that everyone will get a small fraction of the find.
If you had been Bob and had been the one to find the money, what would you have done?
Munich Artworks Considered the greatest art theft in history:
650,000 works were looted from Europe by the Nazis during and after WWII.
In 2010, Cornelius Gurlitt was found acting nervous and suspicious on a train from Zurich
A lot of “black” money is taken back and forth on this train and officers are on the
lookout for suspicious passengers.
Cornelius was found in possession of €9,000 (which is not illegal) and was flagged for
What they found out was that Cornelius Gurlitt was the son of art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt,
one of the Nazis’ approved art dealers.
Hildebrand Gurlitt had managed to gather a large collection from Jewish art dealers and
When he died, all of his belongings were inherited by his son, Cornelius who lived as a recluse.
It was known in society that Gurlitt had a large collection of looted art, but it wasn’t
until 2012 that tax authorities managed to get a warrant and came to investigate Gurlitt's
What they found was a surprise!!
Inside were 1,300 pieces of missing art from the period of Nazi rule in Germany.
The majority of art found in this apartment had been considered destroyed, but it was
all hidden in this Munich apartment.
The whole collection was estimated at around one billion euros.
When Cornelius Gurlitt died, the majority of his inherited artwork went to a Swiss museum.
To learn more check out Raiders of the Lost Art on Netflix!
And now, for number 7 but first, be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already and let
us know what you would like to see in future videos in the comments below!!
Hidden Movie Poster Laura Stouffer, a collector and art dealer,
was going through some stuff in a thrift shop when she came across a painting called “Shepherd's
This was a painting depicting a dog that found a lamb in the snow.
It was painted somewhere between 1850 and 1880.
Laura, who was an antiques dealer, recognized the painting right away and decided to buy
However, when she brought the painting home, she was in for a surprise.
Beneath the surface of the painting, right between the print and the paper backing, there
was something unexpected.
Laura accidentally found an original poster for the famous film from the 1930s – “All
Quiet on the Western Front”.
How it got there, and why somebody would hide a movie poster behind an old painting – is
a mystery, but the poster was there.
Many old-movie posters have been permanently lost and if you like old movies you will definitely
appreciate this find!
And although it’s not really worth a fortune, it’s still pretty valuable.
A Couch Painting In 2007, a German student, whose identity
was not revealed, bought a pullout couch at a flea market in Berlin.
She only paid about $215.
But, as it turned out, the she got more than she bargained for, in a good way!
When she finally got around to unfolding the couch, there was a relatively small oil painting
inside of it.
It was only 10x15 inches (26cm by 39cm) in size, but it turned out to be worth much more
than its small size might indicate!
What it was doing in the couch, we will never know!
The name of the oil painting is “Preparation to Escape to Egypt”, and it was painted
somewhere between 1605 and 1620.
The name of the artist is not known, but experts believe that the artist was a close collaborator
of the Venetian painter named Carlo Saraceni.
That’s what the appointed auction house told the public after they had taken a closer
The now famous painting ended up being sold to an anonymous bidder for $27,630 – over
one hundred times the price of the couch.
Those flea markets…they can really turn your whole life around!
Have you guys ever had any luck?
Fortune in a Wall
When Jeff Bidelman was cleaning out a family’s abandoned home, and helping them look for
items of value, he found himself wading in a pile of coins.
As he was dragging out a bag full of coins, he saw a hole in one of the walls.
The daughter of the deceased homeowner told Jeff that, when she was a child, she would
hear all kinds of stories about treasure hidden inside the walls of their house.
The rumors turned out to be true!
Jeff asked the woman for permission to tear down the wall where the hole was.
Not long after, tons of coins started pouring out!
The coins dated from 1826 to 1964, and included Liberty dimes, which were minted from 1916
But there were also a couple of large pennies, from 1793 to 1857, with the face value of
$20 per coin.
Jeff was asked not to disclose the identity of the family, or the location of their coin-filled
house, in fear of their own safety.
The coins are now placed in a secure location and, although their value is estimated at
around $8,500 – private collectors will most likely pay much more.
No place like home – especially when it’s full of expensive coins!
Cans of Coins One day, a couple living in Northern California
decided to take their dog out for a walk.
While strolling, they noticed some shiny objects on the ground, and decided to dig them out.
Eventually, they dug out eight metal containers full of coins.
But they weren’t any old coins – they were all 19th century coins, in denominations
of 5, 10 and 20 dollars.
The couple ended up with close to 1500 coins, and almost all of which were in mint condition,
plus – most of them had never even been in circulation.
The coins were estimated at $27,000, but Don Kagin, who is a veteran numismatist representing
the married couple – said something amazing.
He believes that some of those coins could be worth much more.
And by much more, he thought - $1 million per coin!
The couple who found the coins decided to stay anonymous, and who could blame them?
The bulk of the coins will be sold on Amazon, but some of them will also be given to the
American Numismatic Association for the National Money Show.
Grab your dog right now, and take it for a walk, people – you might strike gold!
Storage Unit Treasure A man in San Jose, who was identified only
as John, decided to bid on a storage unit.
The storage unit was in poor condition, and this John Doe figured it probably wasn’t
worth all that much, but he ended up paying $1,100 for the storage unit.
Boy was he in for a surprise!
Before being sold, the storage unit had belonged to an elderly woman.
In it, John found a large collection of old coins, which were pretty rare.
There were also silver bars, tucked away in a container.
Allegedly, the container was so heavy that it took three men to lift it.
The find actually happened during an auction held by American Auctioneers, which is a company
that features on the TV show “Storage Wars”.
But this was so unexpected that there were no cameras around at the time.
The treasure was estimated at a value of around half a million dollars!
The investment turned out well for a mystery unit!
Not sure if I would do that myself though, I don’t like investing in mystery boxes!
The Declaration of Independence One day, Michael Sparks went into a thrift
shop in Nashville, TN.
Among the things he bought, there was also a pale print of the Declaration of Independence.
He concluded that it was just another reprint of the Declaration.
He paid $2.48 for it and took everything home.
However, curiosity wouldn’t let go, and a couple of days later – Michael Sparks
was still thinking about the yellowed reprint he had bought.
He wanted to check whether the copy was a bit older than he had thought at first.
He went online, and did extensive research.
What he found out nearly floored him – it turned out that he didn’t buy a worthless
He had actually bought one of the 200 original copies of the Declaration of Independence!
These 200 copies were commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1820.
But in order to make sure, Michael Sparks spent a whole year trying to authenticate
the copy he had bought.
It was determined the copy was indeed one of the original ones, and it was sold for
Another lucky thrift shop find!
Baseball Card in Fresno A 72-year-old lady from California, named
Bernice Gallego, found an old baseball card in her house.
It was a pretty rare baseball card, as it depicted the first professional American baseball
team – the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.
On the front side, there was a silver-toned photo print of the whole baseball team.
And on the back, there was an ad, in red and white, for Peck & Snyder – the famous manufacturer
of sports equipment from New York.
Although Bernice had an antique shop in Fresno, she originally wanted to sell the baseball
card online for a measly $10.
She wasn’t into baseball at all, and she had never even been to a baseball game.
In her own words – she didn’t even know that baseball as a game existed back in the
And so, she figured that the card wouldn’t be worth all that much.
How wrong she was!
When Bernice put the card online, a friend advised her to end the auction as soon as
possible, because the card could be worth a fortune.
And it turned out to be true.
The baseball card ended up being sold for $75,285, and Bernice Gallego even had her
15 minutes of fame by appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Thanks for watching!!
Have you ever found anything valuable by accident??
Let us know in the comments below!
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