5 Times People Found Treasures In Unexpected Ways

Some treasures are just chilling out in plain sight.
5 Times People Found Treasures In Unexpected Ways

There are three major sources of hidden treasure: buried pirate gold, ancient tombs, and the "Because You Watched Miami Connection" section on Netflix. But those are only the major sources. We suppose there are other ways to find secret riches. Probably. We'll defer to the following people. They seem to be the experts.

A Goodwill Sweater Turns Out To Be A Piece Of Sports History

Goodwill is great if you need to find a suit someone died in to wear to your court date. But even piles of ratty sweaters and mothballed slacks occasionally hide good stuff. More specifically, this hallowed NFL artifact:

Heritage Auctions
Aw man, Vince is totally going to get grounded when his mom finds out his lost his sweater.

As sellers of vintage clothing, Tennessee couple Sean and Nikki McEvoy are always on the lookout for cheap clothes, preferably stuff that's not been worn since the Carter administration. In 2014, they decided to swing by a North Carolina Goodwill store. There, Nikki spotted a "neat, high quality" college sweater from West Point Military Academy. And it was cheap! The duo only had to pay 58 cents for it. But maybe the people at Goodwill should've looked at that sweater more closely. They might have noticed that it used to belong to NFL coaching superstar Vince "The Bard" Lombardi.

wE E w 3O1n
U.S. Military Academy
"I should probably sew my name into this so it doesn't accidentally get donated to Goodwill."

Once back home, Nikki took a peek and found a name tag which read "LOMBARDI 46" sewed into the neckline. Unfortunately, that name didn't ring a bell to her, so the sweater went into the pile of vintage clothes. It was only by sheer coincidence that a few months later, Sean was watching a documentary about Lombardi and saw the man wearing a familiar-looking sweater in an old picture. "Wouldn't it be cool if we had that exact sweater?" he wondered...

Yep, this 58-cent Goodwill buy was what Lombardi had worn while at West Point, where many agree he learned his famed style of coaching (read: yelling). With such a sporting relic in hand, Sean called the Football Hall of Fame to ask if they wanted to buy it, but they demanded that they donate it for free (because football is always about choosing morals over money). So he drove the sweater to a Dallas auction house, where, after they confirmed it was indeed oozing with the pit stains of history, they auctioned it off to a mega-fan for $43,020. That's a profit of over 10 percent! Maybe way over. We're terrible with numbers.

Related: 6 Huge Fortunes People Discovered In The Dumbest Ways

A Bunch Of Old Tins Cans Turned Out To Be Filled With Gold Doubloons

In 2013, a couple living in Northern California, the nexus of the 1949 Gold Rush, noticed something strange while walking their dog: a weird bit of metal poking out of the mud. After rooting around, they dug up several ancient-looking tin cans, filled not with rotten peaches or miraculously preserved spam, but thousands of gold coins.

5 Times People Found Treasures In Unexpected Ways
Kagin's Inc.
Mixing bean cans and gold: the prospector's version of Reese's Pieces.

The eight cans they dug up contained 1,427 near-mint 18th-century gold coins. The couple, who have remained anonymous for fear that their land will be overrun by the ghosts of old-timey prospectors, took their haul to an appraiser, who informed them that the Saddle Ridge Hoard was worth $10 million. One million of that was from one coin, a super rare 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle. "This will be regarded as one of the best stories in the history of our hobby," said Don Willis, president of Professional Coin Grading Service. Seeing as this hobby is collecting old coins, there probably wasn't a lot of competition, but still.

Related: 8 Incredible Discoveries People Just Sort Of Stumbled Into

Two Buddies Unknowingly Buy A Famous Artist's Bungalow, Then Find Millions Of Dollars' Worth Of Art

In 2007, pals Thomas Schultz and Lawrence Joseph were given a tour of a trashed New York cottage which they were hoping to buy cheap and renovate. But when they inspected the garage, they found some unusual trash: thousands upon thousands of sketches, paintings, and illustrations. Taking a liking to this literal garbage art, the pair paid the owner an extra $2,500, which came down to about a buck per painting. Did you guess it was actually worth a fortune? HOW?!

You may not have heard of Arthur Pinajian. First a comic book artist during the Golden Age of Comics, the Armenian-American later pursued his calling as an abstract painter, hoping to become the next Picasso. But he never achieved the recognition he'd hoped for, so he secluded himself in the last place anyone would look for a brilliant artist: Long Island.

There he sat in his workshop day and night, toiling in complete anonymity. He even gave clear instructions to his kin that after his death, all of his art should be destroyed. But getting rid of 3,000 paintings is hard work, you guys, so his descendants simply sold the cottage and left the art to rot in the garage.

But like with many great artists, Arthur's works became famous -- and more importantly, wildly expensive -- after he kicked the ol' paint bucket. This was good news for Schultz and Joseph, who eventually figured out that they had bought not only Pinajian's lair, but also his entire legacy. Altogether the collection has been valued at up to $30 million, which you may recognize as a bit more than $2,500. (At least a bit. Again, we're not great with math.)

Related: 6 Nobodies Who Stumbled Into World Changing Discoveries

A Canadian Garbageman Found A Fortune Hidden Inside A Broken TV

While the screen of a TV set is filled with wonders -- dragons! zombies! Balki! -- rummaging around in its actual guts must be a boring job. But not for one TV recycling plant employee in Barrie, Ontario. While dismantling an ancient TV in 2017, he found a hidden cash box inside with over $100,000. The (really, too honest) man told his manager about treasure, and they turned it over to the police. Luckily, the box also contained documents which allowed the cops to trace the stash back to its rightful owner, a then-68-year-old man living in a nearby lake town who had no idea his net worth had dropped by six figures since his last Netflix binge.

According to the forgetful big spender, the money was a cash inheritance from his parents which he had hidden inside the TV 30 years prior. In fact, he had hidden it so well that he had completely forgotten about it. He even gave the set to a buddy of his, who then spent decades staring at the most valuable TV in the country before dropping the busted old thing off at the recycling plant.

The man assured police that he hadn't realized the money was missing because he thought it was hidden somewhere else in the house. Which raises a question: How many secret stashes does this guy have? Is he just absentmindedly dumping old cereal boxes stuffed with small fortunes into the recycling every week? We guess the people in the neighborhood will find out when they start noticing the local hobo population sporting top hats and tuxedos.

Related: 5 Pieces Of Junk That Turned Out To Be Invaluable Artifacts

A Woman Bought A Priceless Necklace For $15 At A Flea Market

Back in 2005, while sleazing through a local flea market in Philadelphia (that's the proper verb for browsing a flea market, look it up), Norma Ifill spotted a strange metal necklace discarded inside a box on the ground. Taken by its over-the-top tribal look, she gladly paid a measly $15 for a fun little piece of costume jewelry. Over the next three years, Ifill only wore it a handful of times. But every time she took it for a spin, she noticed that people couldn't keep their eyes off it. After all, it's not every day that you see someone wear a $300,000 necklace to a barbecue.

Alexander Calder, famed for his abstract wire sculptures, also created wild artistic jewelry for his celebrity friends. During the 1930s and '40s, debutantes preferred Calder's exquisite twists over any boring old diamond pendant. And Ifill's necklace wasn't some random Calder. It was one of his best, having been put on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1943.

In 2008, Ifill went to the Philadelphia Art Museum, which happened to feature a Calder jewelry exhibition. There, she realized her gaudy piece of costume jewelry looked exactly like the valuable pieces laying behind the reinforced glass. She took the necklace to the exhibition curator, who had it confirmed as a genuine lost Calder. In 2013, the necklace was put up for auction, earning Ifill a whopping $267,750. Which is ... what? 20 percent more than she paid for it? 30? Why won't somebody help us? This is a serious problem.

Support your favorite Cracked writers with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.

For more, check out If The Lottery Was Honest - Honest Ads:

Follow us on Facebook. It's priceless (AKA free).

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?