6 Priceless Treasures Everybody Dismissed As Worthless Junk
You know that feeling when you find something valuable left in the dryer? A dollar bill, a lost piece of jewelry, a melted wad of 15 Jolly Ranchers that are still totally edible? As satisfying as those treasures may be, people have found even better, slightly less fuzzy things in other, dryer-like places. Just imagine the befuddled joy you'd feel after discovering something like ...
A 260-Year-Old Stradivarius Left On The Roof Of A Car
In 1967, David Margetts had risen to second violin in a string quartet at UCLA. So great was his promise, apparently, that he had been allowed to borrow a rare Stradivarius violin from the university. Not only was it one of about 600 left in the world, but this particular instrument was the Duke of Alcantara, named for its original owner, a Spanish nobleman. It is believed, at one point, to have been owned by Napoleon. The fact that it was lent to Margetts speaks deeply of the trust the university had in him. Anyway, he left it on top of his car when he drove away from a grocery store.
At least, he thinks he might have. It also might have been stolen from the unlocked car while he was in the store. He's not really sure what happened. In any case, according to family lore, it ended up on the side of a road, where a woman initially mistook it for a baby. A tragically deformed, violin-shaped baby? Whatever. She eventually gifted the violin to her nephew, who lost it as part of a divorce settlement to Teresa Salvato, who decided this was as good a time as any to take up the violin. Her teacher, the first person to come across the Duke in 27 years who had any inkling of its value, took it to a dealer, who identified it from a photo in a book about its creator. It had the same scratches on the back. It was worth $800,000.
Salvato, who learned from the dealer that the violin was listed in a registry as stolen, took this information to UCLA in the spiritual, if not physical, form of letters cut out of magazines. After she refused to give it back to them, she was somehow surprised when campus police officers started paying her visits. This was 1994 Los Angeles, so frankly, she got off light. The question of who owned the violin was brought to court, but eventually Salvato settled, surrendering the violin in exchange for a payment of a fraction of its worth. We're talking about 1/70th of its worth. We don't know what they did to her to get her to accept that deal, but don't mess with classical musicians, people. They might not look threatening, but they're ruthless.
A Pensioner Found A $1 Million Lottery Ticket In The Trash
In late 2005, a story played out in front of a small-town Massachusetts grocery store so heartwarming and unbelievable that if it happened in a movie, you'd roll your eyes while making fart noises. An 83-year-old man named Edward St. John was digging through the trash, so you already know it wasn't his best day, when he found a $1 million lottery ticket. Roll the jaunty closing credits while you mutter "What about the guy who threw it out? Not a very good day for him, now was it?"
Indeed, it wasn't. Another local man, Kevin Donovan, claimed he bought every one of that particular variety of scratch-off ticket that store had that morning, so he knew the ticket in the trash was his. He brought his claim to the lottery commission, which ruled that possession, not purchase, was all that determined the winner, after which Donovan promptly died. Listen, we try not to speak ill of the dead, but a guy who buys an entire roll of scratch-off tickets and then doesn't even check them before he throws them away probably got what he deserved, so this still qualifies for Lifetime movie status at the very least, right?
Maybe, but it didn't end there. Donovan's family immediately began the process of suing St. John for what they claimed were their rightful winnings. The law was pretty clear on the matter, but according to St. John's lawyer, the family intended to drag out the proceedings for as long as they could, and St. John didn't exactly have a lot of time. In the end, he did the only thing he could to resolve the matter in an expedient fashion, agreeing to pay Donovan's family a settlement of $140,000 so he could enjoy his remaining $860,000 in his remaining years. We hope he bought a lot of suspenders and hard candy.
A Rock Used As A Doorstop For 30 Years Turned Out To Be A Meteorite
The geology department at Central Michigan University is the place to be if you like rocks and happen to be in central Michigan. We assume there are shiny and colorful specimens aplenty at this facility, so when an anonymous man showed up with the nondescript stone seen below, we can understand why the on-duty pebble wrangler, Professor Mona Sirbescu, wasn't particularly enthused.
The man was insistent, however, that the 22-pound mini-boulder he had hauled over was "unique," and worth the time spent taking a look. And it turns out that it was. Worth it to the tune of 100 grand. What he had delivered was a bona fide meteorite that had been employed for decades at his Grand Rapids farm as a doorstop. The former owner of the farm had told him that it was found in a crater back in the 1930s, but he didn't really have any inkling as to its value. As for Professor Sirbescu, it was "the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically."
The next step is to have the meteorite sent to a nuclear reactor for testing to help determine its origin. Or maybe that's just the story the professor gave the farmer while she frantically got in touch with her contacts in the space flotsam black market.
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A Man Inherited A House Crammed Full Of Gold
We've all heard jokes about wealthy eccentrics stuffing their mattresses with millions of dollars, but the Cayman Islands exists, so not many of those people keep it truly old school. You'd certainly think you'd know if you were related to one. And yet a Frenchman poking around a house he'd recently inherited from deceased relatives was surprised to find a box of gold coins screwed into the bottom of a piece of furniture. Then another in an old whiskey box. Then another everywhere else in the house. It was "under furniture, under piles of linen, in the bathroom." It was basically the opposite of the dead rats you'll find in the air ducts of your relatives' homes when they die.
Once all the gold was collected, it totaled 5,000 pieces, 37 ingots, and two bars. The haul, weighing 200 pounds, was worth $3.7 million. Either no one knows or is unwilling to say where it came from, but it was allegedly legally purchased in the '50s and '60s, so we're going with "doo-wop pirates." The lucky owner might not end up so lucky, as France has some stiff taxes, which might be why another home in the same area of Normandy was found to have about $1 million of gold buried in the garden when developers started digging it up a few years before. We'll never know why the history books skipped the doo-wop pirate invasion of Normandy, because it sounds like a heck of a story.
A 2,400-Year-Old Persian Cup Was Used For Target Practice
In 1945, John Webber's grandfather, a scrap metal dealer at the time, gave him a nice old mug. Like anything shiny and covered in weird faces, little John was drawn to it, but he didn't really give it much thought. He'd use it for target practice with his air rifle sometimes. Mostly it languished in a shoe box under his bed until 2007.
It was only that year, when Webber came across it again during a move, that he decided to ask an expert about the unusual, presumably brass cup. They sent it for testing, and the report came back that not only was it actually solid gold, but it was also crafted in the Middle East about 2,400 years ago. It was put up for auction the next year and sold in under two minutes for over $60,000. Somewhere, Granddad Webber is either cheering or kicking himself, depending on exactly how generous he was.
An Old Blanket Turned A Homeless Man Into A Millionaire
By 2011, things were going badly for Loren Krytzer. A car accident four years before had left him disabled and unemployed, and while he wasn't technically homeless because he was paying $700 a month in rent, it was for a shack on a friend's property. That's California for you.
Then, one day he did the same thing many other broke and depressed people across the country do and tuned in to an episode of Antiques Roadshow. Among the objects hopefully paraded before appraisers was a Navajo blanket that turned out to be worth $500,000 -- a blanket very similar to one that was languishing in Krytzer's closet.
Krytzer had never given the blanket much thought. He'd taken it seven years earlier from his grandmother's house after she died because no one else wanted it, and for reasons he couldn't quite articulate, he held onto it throughout his journey to the bottom. It was so old and filthy that when he told his mother of his intention to have it appraised, she insisted that "nobody would give you $10 for that freaking thing."
But he took it to an auction house that specialized in Native artifacts, where it ended up selling for several orders of magnitude over his mother's estimate -- $1.5 million, to be exact. Here's the eerie part: It was sold to the same guy who appraised the blanket Krytzer saw on Antiques Roadshow. He's an expert in Native art, and apparently, a little birdie told him to check out a certain auction house. At this point, we're gonna assume it was benevolent ghosts.
E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's due to be released in September. He's practically on his knees begging that you pre order it now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review.
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