15 Important Things Mistaken for Trash
There’s shit everywhere. Wherever you look, whatever you do, there are piles and piles of goddamned crap fucking everywhere. Overflowing trash cans, recycling bins filled with absolutely unrecyclable garbage, horrific floating atolls of slowly degrading fucking nonsense that we’re suffocating our oceans, our air and our world with.
Everything needs to be thrown out. Thrown out and then — and here’s the tricky bit — not replaced. We just need less shit. Get all your stuff and get rid of it and have less stuff.
Well done, then, to people who have thrown incredibly important or valuable items into the garbage. It’s one fine step on the journey to nothingness, to no shit at all, that we should all take before we just choke and drown and die under all our goddamn SHIT.
Harry Potter and the Bin of Recycling
A journalist named Nigel Reynolds discarded a book by an author he’d interviewed as it didn’t appeal. The author was J.K. Rowling, the book was the first Harry Potter, and other first editions change hands for tens of thousands.
Hard Drive Hard Luck
A Welshman named James Howells sent a hard drive to the dump with what he later worked out was $150 million worth of Bitcoin on it. He hopes to salvage it with the aid of — it says here — robot dogs.
Freedom Isn’t Free, It’s $250,000
Original blueprints for New York’s Freedom Tower were thrown in the trash by the daughter of one of its architects, cleaning out his belongings after he died. They later sold for $250,000.
A San Antonio man found a violin by the road and thought he could use it for parts. A subsequent appraisal on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow led to it being identified as a Giuseppe Pedrazzini worth $35,000.
You Gotta Not Bin It to Win It
An 83-year-old man who found a lottery ticket in the trash won a million dollars and was sued by the man who’d discarded it. He shared $140,000 with the original owner, scared he’d die before they reached an agreement.
Diamonds in the Rough
A construction worker renovating a New York jeweler accidentally threw $5 million worth of diamonds into the trash. A security guard spotted them and retrieved them, selling them for a paltry $68,000 and only narrowly avoiding jail time.
One Expensive Big Mac
A 1976 Apple computer — a far cry aesthetically and technologically from today’s models — was dropped at a recycling center by an anonymous house-clearer unaware it was one of just 200 made. It was later auctioned off for $200,000.
Modern Art Is Rubbish
British artist Damien Hirst created a spontaneous artwork out of garbage at a gallery. Overnight, before it could sell for thousands, it was disposed of by the cleaner. It was then painstakingly recreated from photos, raising big questions about everything.
Modern Art Is Still Rubbish
Italian artists Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari’s installation Where Shall We Go Dancing Tonight? was a conceptual installation meant to look like the aftermath of a party. There was a launch party, after which the cleaners… yep!
You Trash Can’t Get That Back
A woman in Worthing, U.K. accidentally put a plastic bag containing her life savings of £12,000 into a trash can, which was promptly placed in a landfill. The chances of recovering it were described by the garbage company as “zilch.”
Whoever Threw That Out Must Have Been Aladdin Sane
An Ontario landfill selling off salvageable-looking items took in a princely $5 for a painting that turned out to be by David Bowie. It later sold for $88,000.
V for Victory, C for Cigar
Sir Winston Churchill’s trademark top hat, as well as cigar case, cigars and a collection of letters from Churchill’s cook detailing his life, were found by a dump worker in 2019 and sold for £10,000.
A Very Exclusive Club
An Otoe Native American ball club dating from around 1840 was rescued from the trash and kept for decades by a Cincinnati man, eventually passing to his grandchild, then to a friend. It sold for an incredible $102,000.
A Great Find for Rug Addicts
A rug retrieved from the garbage by a San Diego woman in need of furniture turned out to date from 1800, hand-woven in Turkmenistan. It was valued at $150,000 — take your shoes off before you walk on that thing.
Home Is Where the Art Is
A colorful painting atop a Manhattan garbage pile caught the eye of Elizabeth Gibson. She discovered it was Mexican abstract artist Rufino Tamayo’s Tres Personages, stolen in 1989. It was returned to its owner, with Gibson getting a chunky reward.