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Ever taken your winter coat out of storage and found 20 bucks in the pocket? A nice little windfall like that is enough to make anyone's day, but there are some lucky bastards out there whose accidental discoveries made their entire lives. The best part? They didn't even have to leave their own homes ...

6
A Man Tries To Repair His Toilet, Finds Underground Catacombs Older Than Jesus

Museum Faggiano

Luciano Faggiano of Italy dreamed of turning a property he owned into a restaurant, but there was one problem: the toilet stank. It was so bad that the previous tenants had left because of a faulty pipe. Since no one in the history of mankind has heard of an eating establishment with a gross men's room, Faggiano and his sons started digging under the bathroom to find that damn pipe.

And then they kept digging. And digging. And digging. Turns out there was a whole series of ancient tunnels right under the place where they'd been dropping butt bombs.


It's unclear who flushed the tunnels down there in the first place, but the middle son has a guilty look on his face.

The underground rooms and corridors were packed with treasures dating back thousands of years, including Roman artifacts, artwork left by the Knights Templar, a Messapian tomb, and a Jesuit ring that contained 33 diamonds. They also ... hold up, a stodgy Italian man trying to fix the plumbing finds himself transported to a vast land filled with riches?! Are we sure this isn't a Super Mario Bros. reboot?


"That's where the giant turtle started spitting fire at me. We're tennis buddies now."

Faggiano initially kept his little excavation project a secret from his wife, thinking she might object to the whole "lowering their 12-year-old son into unreachable spaces with a rope" part. Eventually, the massive amounts of debris he was hauling away in the family car became too obvious, and the authorities got involved. This means that the family unfortunately couldn't keep most of the treasure to themselves, due to a technicality called "the Italian government calls dibs."

Davide Monteleone / New York Times
Prime Minister Link, in particular, wanted everything to himself.

Still, in the end, it was all worth it. After years of digging, they were finally able to find the pipe that caused the toilet to malfunction in the first place. So if you ever visit the archaeological museum they opened in the building, at least you're guaranteed a pleasant pooping experience.

Museum Faggiano
Make sure to wave at all the mole men and Morlocks watching you from below as you go.

5
A Family Realizes They've Been Using A $436,000 Lou Gehrig Bat As Protection For 30 Years

Love Of The Game Auctions

Bats -- the sporting equipment, not the animal -- are a popular choice for home protection, since they won't shoot you in the face or bite you in the crotch if you touch them the wrong way. That's why for 30 years, a New York family kept their trusty anti-home invasion bat right behind their front door ... without realizing that it once belonged to Lou "my name is easier to pronounce than 'amyotrophic lateral sclerosis'" Gehrig. In retrospect, perhaps they should have paid more attention to the clues -- like the fact that they got the bat from a relative of a Yankees Stadium groundskeeper, or that it freaking says "Lou Gehrig" on it.

Love Of The Game Auctions
Today, this homeowner considers himself the most clueless man on the face of the Earth.

When someone finally pointed out that this thing could be worth something, the family showed the bat to an expert and discovered that Gehrig had played with it during one of his best seasons. Which is to say, someone was planning to beat the shit out of a burglar with a very rare piece of baseball memorabilia. And a very expensive one, too -- when the bat went to auction, it ended up selling for $436,970. The exorbitant price is probably due its rarity, since fewer than 20 game-used bats belonging to the sports legend remain in existence; the rest presumably disintegrated from hitting baseballs too hard.

The miraculous part is that the family managed to hold on to the bat for three whole decades despite clearly not giving the slightest shit about baseball. In fact, they almost left the bat behind when they moved to a new house 15 years ago, before finding out that crime exists in other parts of New York. At one point, they nearly gave the bat to a neighbor's kid, which surely would have sent him on a magical adventure involving a talking baseball-playing dog.

Love Of The Game Auctions
"Thanks for being a little turd and making us reconsider, Timmy."

The identity of the family hasn't been disclosed, which is probably for the best, since they suddenly have a lot more money laying around and no means of protecting it.

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4
A Man Finds Out He Has A $1.25 Million Painting Thanks To A Board Game

Martin Johnson Heade

Whenever you see a painting hanging in the home of someone who isn't rich, there's like a 50 percent chance it's only there to cover something unsightly right behind it -- like fungus, or a giant bloodstain, or an even uglier painting they got as a present. Such was the case for one man from Indiana, who paid "next to nothing" for a bunch of furniture and a painting of flowers. No artist has ever said "I hope that one day, someone deems my work good enough to cover an ugly hole in their wall," but that's exactly what the man decided to do with his new painting, presumably because he already had a dinner tray.

Martin Johnson Heade
His friends tried to explain the concept of "windows" to him, but he wouldn't listen.

The man, a worker at a tool and die company, didn't give the painting much thought until years later, when a fateful encounter with a board game changed his life. The point of the game Masterpiece, ironically, was selling and buying famous paintings in cards while avoiding buying forgeries (think of Pawn Stars, but with fewer fat jokes). Our anonymous patron of the arts was playing one day when he noticed that one of the paintings in the cards looked an awful lot like his favorite air draft cover.

Parker Brothers
Masterpiece: Officially more fun than fixing your damn house.

He contacted a museum about it, and they soon confirmed that it was Magnolias On Gold Velvet Cloth, a little-known work by 19th-century painter Martin Johnson Heade. The painting was so valuable that the museum's director called an emergency meeting, and within an hour and a half, they'd secured $1.25 million to buy it before its current owner started using it as a doormat or something. Heade's favorite artistic motifs were apparently "pretty flowers" and "shit that looks way cheaper than it really is," because another lost painting of his, Two Magnolias On Blue Plush, was bought at a garage sale for $29 and eventually sold for $882,500 in an auction.

Martin Johnson Heade
Meanwhile, Magnolias On Kitchen Counter was given as tip to a pizza boy, and fetched $10 million.

It's unknown what happened to the man from Indiana, but it's safe to assume that he either covered that hole with solid gold, or stopped giving a crap about having ugly walls.

3
A Contractor Stumbles Upon A Depression-Era Fortune In Someone's Bathroom Wall

National Museum Of American History

It may seem unthinkable to anyone living in this prosperous economic climate, but there was a time in American history when it was safer to put all your money in a hole behind your bathroom cabinet than in a bank. So that's exactly what a Cleveland man named Patrick Dunne did in 1938 with $182,000 in old-timey cash (or around $500,000 in today money) -- a sum that he then completely forgot about, it seems, because it was still there when he died 30 years later.

That, or he intentionally sealed the money away because it was cursed. Considering what happened to the people who found it, that doesn't seem so far-fetched.

Plain Dealer Publishing Company
Ah, the curse of William "Wait, I'm On Currency?!" McKinley.

In 2006, contractor Bob Kitts tore down the bathroom wall of the 83-year-old house, and instead of being greeted by his old friend asbestos, he found two green lockboxes and some envelopes suspended by a wire. When he realized what was in them, Kitts contacted the home's owner, Amanda Reece, and the two proceeded to freak out and take pictures with the cash. It was presumably at this point that they both said "Well, thanks for helping me count my money!" at the same time, followed by "What do you mean, your money?"

Associated Press
Their eyes say, "I will gut you and whip you with your own entrails
if you touch even one more penny," but their smiles say ... the same thing.

The contractor and the homeowner couldn't decide on how to split the half-million. Kitts wanted 40 percent of the loot, but Reece thought that he only deserved 10. Naturally, they resolved their dispute like adults, which is to say by suing the shit out of each other. Due to the media attention their story got, Patrick Dunne's heirs found out about the money, and also wanted to get a piece of the increasingly shrinking pie.

By the time the case got resolved, Reece had lost her home and filed for bankruptcy (she says a good chunk of the money was stolen), Kitts got $2,700 after fees, and the 21 heirs walked away with a cool $1,586 they didn't have before. The real winners, of course, were the lawyers, who admitted that no one would have ever found out about this if Kitts and Dunne had simply split the money and kept their mouths shut.

Bob Kitts
But no one can take away the memories of playing with cash, and isn't that the biggest treasure?

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2
Students Find $41,000 Stashed In A Salvation Army Couch ... And Return It To Its Owner

CBS-2 News

When you buy a piece of furniture at your local Salvation Army, all you can hope for is that those suspicious stains are from a yogurt someone dropped, and not a 30-person orgy in the '70s. That's why three college students in New York didn't even notice the weird lumps on the armrests of their new $20 couch until a few weeks after buying it, when they sat down to watch a movie on it.

CBS-2 News
They were too poor for Netflix, so they had to settle for some "PBS and no air conditioning."

So what was inside the armrest? An actual arm left by a mobster? An old lasagna someone forgot? Nope, even better: It was an envelope stuffed with bills adding up to $700 (or "two years of food" in college student currency). They were already freaking out about the discovery when they noticed there was another envelope with even more money ... and another, and another, for a total of $41,000. At this point, they followed the customs of our culture, and did what, let's face it, we'd all do in this situation:

The Little Rebellion
Now they can hire someone to clean their floor.

The celebration stopped when they came across a deposit slip with a woman's name in it -- meaning that the money belonged to someone, and hadn't been left there by magical fairies, as they'd presumably assumed. And then, unlike the rest of us, the students tracked down the couch's previous owner, a 91-year-old widow in desperate need of the money, and returned it. As it turned out, her family had taken the opportunity to donate her ugly old couch while she was ill, unaware that she'd been using it as a comfy vault.

The woman was immensely grateful at the return of her life savings, and rewarded the roommates with $1,000, which they presumably invested in 50 Salvation Army couches.

The Little Rebellion
As soon as their teachers heard the story, they got an A in Ethics and flunked "How to Make it On Wall Street 101."

1
A Copy Of Superman's First Comic Was Being Used As Wall Insulation

DC Comics

Like anyone else who's ever demolished a house, David Gonzalez of Minnesota imagined what it would be like to find treasure hidden away in its walls. So the construction worker would put a few dollars in the new walls during remodeling, hoping to surprise the new owners somewhere down the line. It seems that karma noticed.

Gonzalez bought a run-down home in 2013 and decided to do it up (which in construction terms means "tear it down"). That's when he found something in the walls of the garage: an old comic book from 1938 that introduced a brand-new character to readers. "Car-Lifter-Upper Man" or something.

Comic Connect
With his trusty sidekick, "Oh-God-Please-No-God-Help-Me Boy."

Yep, it was the mythical Action Comics #1, Superman's first appearance. In the '30s, some Batman fan had decided to use as insulation for their wall. Few copies survive, and one in near-mint condition sold for $2.16 million in 2011. Gonzalez' copy was worth considerably less ... in part, because of his grabby relatives. When his wife's aunt saw the comic, she got so excited (the big nerd) that she grabbed it and tore the back cover, sending its value from $250,000 to $175,000 in one fell swoop.

Comic Connect
"Auntie, no! Now how am I gonna order those x-ray glasses?"

Still, Gonzalez was lucky that the comic wasn't in a million pieces instead of just two, since it came close to being destroyed along with the rest of the house. A neighboring restaurant wanted to flatten the place and use it as a parking lot, so they offered the previous owners $10,000. When Gonzalez heard about it, he made the daring offer of $10,100 and got the place -- which eventually gave him $175,000 and some kickass bathroom reading material, so all in all, it was a rather good deal.

The downside is that now that he has Action Comics #1, Gonzalez has no choice but to look up the other 916 issues to get caught up on the story. Nobody spoil it for him.

Laura H is not capable of going to bed at a reasonable hour. Follow her on Twitter. You can find Abraham's Twitter here and DeviantArt account here.

Always double-check stuff that you think might be junk. For example, one guy found the Declaration of Independence tucked away in a frame. Or if you're about to toss those Legos, maybe do a quick Internet search to make sure you aren't throwing away a shit-ton of free money. See what we mean in 5 Pieces of Junk That Turned Out To Be Invaluable Artifacts and 8 Insanely Valuable Items You Probably Owned (And Threw Out).

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