Expensive items featured on Pawn Stars, ranked
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of finding hidden treasure in the midst of what appears to be just a bunch of old junk. That’s part of why we love watching The History Channel series Pawn Stars. At the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, owners Richard, Rick, Corey Harrison, and Austin “Chumlee” Russell see all kinds of things come through their doors. From incredible, centuries-old artifacts to gorgeous guitars and infamous cars, the pawn stars have seen it all. Read on to count down the most expensive things that have ever turned up in the shop. Can you guess what number one will be?
29. The Godfather script with autograph
When this autographed, original script for The Godfather came through the pawn shop, our Pawn Stars made the seller an offer they could refuse. Autograph expert John Reznikoff was brought in to examine the script and he determined that it was in fact signed by Al Pacino. Reznikoff valued the script at $2,000.
Based on Reznikoff’s valuation, the shop offered the script’s owner $500. They turned the offer down and later sold the script at auction for $12,000. It also turned out Reznikoff was wrong about the autograph. The script was actually signed by producer Al Ruddy.
NEXT: This piece of history seemed too good to be true. The Harrisons were in for quite the surprise.
28. Ship’s bell from 1602
When a woman came into the shop with an antique bell that she claimed was from 1602, the Harrisons were immediately skeptical. All too often, people believe that items are actually historically significant but they turn out to be clever fakes. The bell’s owner claimed that the bell was from a ship owned by the Dutch East India Company, but it didn’t look like it had ever been in the water.
The Harrisons brought in an expert to take a look at the bell and authenticate the owner’s story. It did turn out to be a real 1602 ship’s bell, worth $15,000.
NEXT: This precious coin turned out to be 300 years old.
27. Spanish gold coin from 1715
This coin isn’t from your typical piggy bank. When its owner brought the coin into the shop, she said she had inherited it. The coin’s owner was certain it had to be quite valuable based on its age and the fact that it’s made of solid gold.
From her own research, the coin’s owner had estimated its value at $18,000. The shop brought in an expert to examine and authenticate the coin and found that it was indeed from 1715. The coin had been part of a massive haul of treasure being brought to Spain from Cuba. The guys made a deal and bought it for $11,000.
NEXT: Who knew one book could cost so much?
26. Isaac Newton’s copy of De Natura Fossilium
This isn’t just any book. De Natura Fossilium, first published in 1546, is a guide to rocks, minerals, and sediment. What makes this particular copy so special is the fact that it belonged to none other than Sir Isaac Newton. When the book turned up on Pawn Stars, an expert looked it over and confirmed that it was the real deal.
The book has a plate inside indicating that it belonged to Isaac Newton’s library. The expert who examined it valued the book at $20,000. The owner ended up selling it for $7,000, leaving a whole lot of money on the table.
NEXT: This item is so cool, but we hope for the Pawn Stars’ sake that it’s not cursed.
25. Egyptian mummy mask
Most of us will never get to hold a mummy’s mask in our hands, but the Harrisons got that special thrill when this mask came through the shop. Antiquities expert Dr. Phineas Kastle made an appearance on the show to examine the mask that came from an ancient Egyptian burial site.
Dr. Kastle determined that the mask was, in fact, genuine and he valued it at $22,500. However, he cautioned that because it’s such a rare item it could go for a higher price. Corey mulled it over and decided that this mummy mask was worth the asking price of $30,000 to him, so he paid that amount to own it.
NEXT: This pretty bird turned out to be a valuable piece of history.
24. Polish white eagle emblem
This beautiful gold and stained glass bird came through the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and turned out to have a good deal of historical significance. Not knowing exactly what it was, Rick Harrison bought it from the seller for $6,000.
An authenticator came in to take a look at the emblem and determined that it was made in Russia, saying the quality of it was as close to Faberge as you can get. It depicts a white eagle, which was the emblem of Poland. In 1795, when it was made, Poland was split into three parts and the largest was owned by Russia.
NEXT: This religious text is worth big bucks in the shop.
23. 1842 Book of Mormon
Long before Book of Mormon became a satirical musical from the makers of South Park, the Mormon faith served as a guiding light for many settlers in the American West. The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830, so the 1842 edition that came through the shop on Pawn Stars was already the book’s fifth edition.
Rare book expert Rebecca Romney came in to examine the book and valued the fifth edition at $40,000. Rick ultimately made a deal with the owner, taking the book off their hands for just $24,000.
NEXT: Treasure hunters’ mouths will water at the sight of this incredible find.
22. Spanish gold from 1544
If you’ve ever dreamed of finding buried treasure or pirate gold, this piece is sure to linger on your mind. A bar of Spanish gold from 1554 found its way into the shop on Pawn Stars. It has a truly incredible story behind it. Apparently, this gold bar came from a shipwreck in 1554.
The owner found the gold in his attic and brought it to the shop to make a deal. The bar could be sold for $24,000 melted down, but in its current historical state, it’s worth $50,000. The Pawn Stars paid $30,000 to add it to their hoard of treasures.
NEXT: Rick Harrison went on the road to buy this treasure.
21. Gold coin from 1915
All the deals on Pawn Stars aren’t made in the actual shop. From time to time, shop owners will arrange meetings with private sellers or look at other interesting items. To get his hands on this octagonal Panama Pacific gold coin from 1915, Rick took a road trip to a coin show in Florida.
This coin commemorates the completion of the Panama Canal and is quite rare. Valued at $70,000, Rick managed to talk the price down and paid $67,050 to take it home from the coin show. He quickly sold it to a private buyer who he already knew was interested in owning the piece.
NEXT: This guitar is collectible on its own, but the person who originally owned it made it extra special.
20. 1961 Fender Stratocaster guitar
A regular Fender Stratocaster from 1961 sells for around $20,000 on sites like Reverb and eBay. However, this particular strat that turned up on Pawn Stars is extra valuable because it belonged to Vic Flick. Flick is a legendary guitar teacher who has had famous students like Jimmy Page. He also played on the original James Bond theme.
Flick himself turned up in the shop to sell his old Stratocaster. At first, nobody in the shop knew who he was, but once they began to understand his history, they were eager to take his guitar. They ended up paying him $55,000 for the instrument.
NEXT: This classic car still looks as cool as ever and the price tag is pretty impressive.
19. 1932 Ford Roadster Model B
Rick made another house call to pick up this Ford Roadster Model B from 1932. He brought his son along for the ride and even though it’s quite small in the interior, they decided they had to have this car. The particular Ford Model B they looked at on Pawn Stars was in mint condition and worth a pretty penny.
Rick had his favorite car guy Danny Koker (who you might know from Counting Cars) check the roadster out. Koker confirmed that the car was worth about $75,000. After some tense bartering, Rick talked the seller down to $68,250 and drove away in style.
NEXT: This limited edition Mustang was built for speed, but owning one will cost you.
18. 2014 Hertz Penske GT Mustang
Only 150 of these limited edition Hertz Penske GT Mustangs were ever made. The first ten were given to VIPs and Hertz executives, while the rest are prized by collectors of rare cars. This car is also the only GT Mustang with a six-speed manual transmission; this called for a very special test drive.
Rick called in Nascar driver Joey Logano to take the car for a spin. Logano said the car was easily worth $75,000. Rick offered the seller $60,000 and stuck to that number through a few rounds of negotiation. In the end, Rick drove away in this car after paying a cool $60,000.
NEXT: This piece of art comes with a very strange history.
17. Bronze statue of O.J. Simpson
In a famous episode of Pawn Stars, the rapper Flavor Flav came into the shop with a bizarre piece of art. He had a bronze statue of football player O.J. Simpson that once stood by Simpson’s pool at his Los Angeles home. Flav was asking $125,000 for the statue, but the pawn shop valued it at just $80,000.
TMZ reports that Flav still has the statue and hasn’t given up hope of fetching a six-figure sum for it. At one point, Flav offered to give the statue back to Simpson, but Simpson refused. If it does ever sell, we’re very curious to see the final asking price.
NEXT: This itsy-bitsy spider comes with a great, big price tag.
16. Faberge brooch
When the seller of this little brooch came into the shop, she never expected it would be one of the most expensive items ever on Pawn Stars. She explained that she had gotten this spider brooch from a relative and was hoping to get a couple thousand dollars for it, at most.
Rick took a look at the brooch and quickly realized it was worth far more than the seller had ever imagined. He surprised us all by offering her $15,000, which she accepted. The brooch turned out to be a Faberge piece worth $80,000. Though Rick didn’t pay her anywhere near its real value, he couldn’t stomach the idea of paying just $2,000 for it.
NEXT: Rick Harrison actually paid for part of this purchase in gold.
15. 1932 Lincoln Roadster
A private seller and classic car collector who goes by “Uncle Phil” approached Rick with this incredible, classic car. Uncle Phil bought the 1932 Lincoln Roadster from a museum and wanted $100,000 for it. Rick immediately fell in love with the car, but the price tag made him feel a little uneasy.
Rick knew that it could be hard to find a buyer for this car (exceptional and valuable though it may be) because there is a small market for these kinds of vehicles. Finally, he offered Uncle Phil gold, and the seller agreed to lower his asking price to $95,000.
NEXT: This unbelievable bit of sports memorabilia surprised us all when it turned up in the shop.
14. New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship ring
When former New England Patriots defensive back Brock Williams showed up at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, there could be no doubt that he was hocking a genuine item. Brock sold his New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship commemorative ring to the shop for just $2,000 as collateral for a loan.
The ring is truly beautiful, made of white gold and encrusted with 143 diamonds. Rick was enamored with the ring at first sight, and since Brock never came back to pay off the loan, the ring belongs to the shop now. Its value today is estimated at $100,000.
NEXT: This valuable coin is one of the rarest out there.
13. Proof Peace dollar coin from 1922
The Proof Peace dollar coin, minted in 1922, is one of the most valuable coins ever made in the United States. Coin collectors covet this bit of loose change and are prepared to pay top dollar for the coin that was once worth just one dollar. This coin’s seller won it in a poker game and came into the shop asking for $20,000 for the coin.
However, an expert came in to examine the coin and determined it was worth at least $100,000. Rick eventually agreed to give the seller $80,000 for the coin and everyone left happy with the deal.
NEXT: This guitar belonged to a true rock legend.
12. Stephen Stills’ 1941 Gibson guitar
On its own, a 1941 Gibson guitar can fetch a high price. Guitar collectors and music lovers especially prize Gibsons for their clear tone and fine construction. This guitar is extra valuable because of who originally owned it. Guitarist Stephen Stills was a member of the folk-rock super group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. His vintage Gibson somehow found its way into the shop.
On its own, the guitar would be worth $75,000, but an expert said that because it had belonged to Stephen Stills, its worth was $105,000. Rick offered the seller $85,000, and the money and guitar changed hands.
NEXT: This deal really put the silver in World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.
11. 3,000 ounces of pure silver
When a seller turned up at the shop with 3,000 ounces (that’s 200 pounds) of silver, Rick was impressed but also a little skeptical. The seller, Jeff, had bags on bags of silver coins and bars that he wheeled into the shop. Apparently, his father had advised him to invest in the precious metal and he was ready to cash in.
Rick wisely had the silver tested to make sure it didn’t contain any other metals. The results came back pure. Rick offered Jeff $111,000 for his massive collection of silver and the deal was made.
NEXT: We looked at silver, so now let’s get back to gold.
Honorable Mention – original Spider-Man artwork signed by Stan Lee
A gentleman walked into the store with an original piece of artwork from Marvel Comics that appeared to be from the Spider-Man series. Comic books can be tricky in terms of value between the series, condition, author, and art. Chumlee has made some bad deals on comic book purchases in the past but this one earned Chumlee a gold star shortly before he would hit a rough patch and have to plead guilty to illegal possession of a firearm.
What made this piece extraordinarily special was that this piece of original artwork was signed by the one and only, Stan Lee. Chumlee knew that Stan Lee was in town and went over to pay him a visit so Stan could verify that it was, in fact, his signature on the artwork.
10. Four gold bars
When a valuable item comes into the shop on Pawn Stars, they don’t always spring for the purchase. These four gold bars, however, were too good to pass up. Each gold bar weighs one kilogram, which equals about 2.2 lbs. The bars were beautiful, valuable, and looked like buried treasure. Buying them was a no brainer for the Harrisons.
For their tenth most valuable item, the Harrisons made a deal to get the gold bars and then quickly sell them for $128,000, which equals about $32,000 each. If you ever get the chance to snag yourself a gold bar, it could be worth holding on to.
NEXT: This 2,000-year-old item dates back to the Roman Empire.
9. Roman coin
It seemed too good to be true, but this “Ides of March” Roman coin really was over 2,000 years old. A seller named John brought this coin into the shop. He was a coin collector and had bought the coin from another collector decades before. John was well aware of the value of the item and wouldn’t take less than $150,000 for the coin.
Rick brought in an expert to look at the coin and they agreed that it was worth no less than $150,000. Rick offered $140,000 for it, but the seller refused the offer and took his coin elsewhere.
NEXT: This priceless guitar had jaws dropping when it came into the shop.
8. Mary Ford’s 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul guitar
Coming in at number eight on our list, we have another Gibson guitar that was owned by someone quite special. Though she may not be a household name, Mary Ford holds a special place in music history. The seller brought this beautiful vintage Gibson in the shop and explained that it belonged to their Aunt Mary, who was married to Les Paul.
Les Paul basically invented the solid body electric guitar; this particular one had been made just for his wife. An expert confirmed that the guitar was worth $150,000, and eventually, the Harrisons struck a deal for $90,000.
NEXT: This item got a wild rumpus started.
7. Original artwork for Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak’s picture book Where the Wild Things Are has long been a favorite with young children who love the story’s imagination and spirit. The illustrations are a huge part of the book’s success, so when a dealer approached Rick with original artwork from the book, he was interested right away and went on a mission to check it out.
The dealer was originally asking for $350,000 for the original illustrations. Rick was able to talk him down to $250,000, and he made a deal that left both sides satisfied.
NEXT: This truly one of a kind piece was tough to put a price on.
6. The 35th President’s cigar humidor
It’s not every day that you come across a cigar humidor belonging to a former President. So, when this humidor came through the shop, the Harrisons were a bit at a loss to determine its value. In addition to belonging to American Royalty, the humidor also still had some of the President’s cigars inside of it.
Rick was sure that there was value in this item, so he offered the seller $60,000 to take it off their hands. Recently, another similar humidor was sold by Sotheby’s for $575,000, making Rick’s $60,000 offer look like chump change.
NEXT: Even if you could afford this guitar, you’d probably never play it as well as its original owner.
5. Jimi Hendrix’s 1963 Fender Stratocaster guitar
Value: $750,000 to $1 million
This guitar is definitely among the most incredible things to ever end up at the pawn shop. A seller brought in this 1963 Fender Stratocaster guitar claiming that it had once belonged to Jimi Hendrix. To make sure it was the real deal, the serial number on the guitar was checked and they confirmed that it matched a guitar known to have been one of Hendrix’s.
A guitar expert evaluated the instrument and told the Harrisons that it was worth between $750,000 and $1 million. Rick offered the owner $500,000, then $600,000. However, the owner knew the guitar was worth much more than that and turned down the deal.
NEXT: You won’t believe how much this fab contract is worth.
4. The Beatles’ original contract
Value: $1 million
You’ve heard of The Beatles, right? As one of the most influential and beloved bands in rock history, any and all pieces of Beatles memorabilia turn up in pawn shops and some can have a great deal of value. Their original contract from 1962 is an incredible find and a one of a kind piece of music history.
The contract is signed by all four members of the band: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; their manager Brian Epstein as well. The seller would accept nothing less than $1 million for it, so the Harrisons let it go. Money can’t buy you love, but enough of it would buy a contract with some of the most famous autographs ever.
NEXT: We’re heading into the top three with an item so crazy we almost can’t believe it exists.
Value: $1 million
Robosaurus is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a robot dinosaur that stands at 40 feet tall. As an added bonus, it can breathe fire and crush cars with its robot talons. It also comes equipped with air cannons that can fire glitter or confetti as needed. All in all, it would make a nice addition to any home.
The Robosaurus was built in 1989 and it starred in the made-for-TV movie Steel Justice in 1992. The owner of the Robosaurus wanted $5 million for it, but the Pawn Stars had to pass on the deal.
NEXT: Another piece of O.J. Simpson’s story made it into the shop, and its value is truly shocking.
2. O.J. Simpson’s white Ford Bronco
Value: $1.25 million
O.J. Simpson’s attempt to evade the police in 1994 continues to live on in infamy. On the day Simpson was supposed to be arrested, he decided to make a run for it. With driver Al Cowlings at the wheel of his white Ford Bronco, Simpson led the LAPD on a low-speed chase that lasted for hours on end. The whole thing was televised.
When a seller brought this famous vehicle to Rick, he almost couldn’t say no. After all, millions of people had watched the car chase that made this car go down in history. Ultimately, because the seller was asking $1.25 million for it, Rick decided to let this one get away.
NEXT: They say the clothes make the man, but this suit is way out of our budget.
1. George Washington’s suit
Value: $2.5 million
In the northeastern United States, you’ll come across many historic sites with claims like, “George Washington slept here.” But how many times have you seen an actual suit of clothes that Washington wore? This three-piece suit belonging to the first president turned up on the special 500th episode of Pawn Stars.
Rick was visiting a private dealer who showed him Washington’s suit, dating back to the 1750s. The dealer wasn’t particularly keen to sell the item so he threw out a price of $3 million before dropping it to $2.5 million. That wasn’t low enough for Rick, so he walked away from the deal.
NEXT: Thrift store finds that turned out to be valuable
1. Mary Moser painting
Worth $1,300, bought for $6.50
Liz Lockyer bought a painting with flowers in a gold frame for $6.50 at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution charity in 2013. “There was a definite risk I was going to rip out the painting and keep the frame,” Lockyer said, according to Give It Love. Good thing that she didn’t…
When Lockyer got home, she found out that the painting was indeed special. The painting was by Mary Moser, featured in the painting here, an artist and co-founder of the Royal Academy of Arts.
NEXT: Maureen Flaherty purchased a dog lithograph for $43.50 which turned out to be worth thousands.
2. Alexander Pope painting
Sold for $5,150, bought for $44
Maureen Flaherty of Summerfield, Florida was browsing a new, local Goodwill store when she spotted an attractive lithograph of a dog. “I looked over my shoulder and saw it up on the wall and asked the cashier if I could still get that,” Flaherty told ABC News in 2015.
After buying the print for $44 she stopped by a local antiques dealer, Braden River Antiques. “You just walked out with the most valuable thing in there,” dealer Jess Sturtevant told Flaherty. It was a 1911 Alexander Pope painting! The painting featured here is another piece by the painter.
NEXT: It was a good thing Jo Heaven’s mom was an art teacher, otherwise she wouldn’t have known she had something special.
3. Ben Nicholson painting
Worth $5,500, bought for less than $1
Jo Heaven spotted a quirky painting behind the counter of Barnardo’s charity shop in Swindon in 2015, said the BBC. It featured blocky animals walking amongst houses in a town that appears to be by the sea. Heaven pocketed the painting for just a mere 99 pence.
Once Heaven got in her car, she saw a message on the very back of the painting. Turns out it was a painting by 20th-century painter and sculptor, Ben Nicholson. The painting featured here is another by the talented Nicholson.
NEXT: Zachary Bodish bought a poster for $14.14 that turned out to be a Picasso!
4. Pablo Picasso poster
Sold for $7,000, bought for $14.14
In a Columbus, Ohio thrift store, Zachary Bodish found an intriguing poster that appeared to be advertising famed artist Pablo Picasso’s exhibition. Not thinking it could possibly be the real thing, Bodish snagged it for $14.14. The poster itself was a cool looking moon-like illustration.
Like previous lucky thrift store finders, Bodish did a bit of research to see what he’d gotten. He looked at markings on the poster, thinking it was possibly a signed Picasso print. Turns out he was right! It was a legit Picasso print. He sold it for $7,000, said NY Daily News.
NEXT: This woman bought a painting in a Goodwill for $12.34 that turned out to be worth a lot more.
5. Alexander Calder painting
Worth $9,000, bought for $12.34
Seems that Goodwill is chock full of expensive goodies, no? Goodwill shopper Karen Mallet found her expensive treasure in Milwaukee. The painting was comprised of white, black and red lines and shapes. Titled “Slanting Red Nose,” Mallet didn’t even like the geometric painting at first.
She decided to buy it because she spotted what could be artist Alexander Calder’s signature on it, she told the Associated Press. Mallet probably liked the painting a lot more when she found out how much it was worth — $9,000! At the time of her AP interview, Mallet had no plans to sell.
NEXT: This Goodwill employee spotted the painting before it was bought.
6. Giovanni Battista Torriglia painting
A Goodwill employee was the one that unearthed the treasure this time, says the Los Angeles Times. In the Associated Press article about the Alexander Calder find, a Goodwill spokesperson said that Goodwill employees are trained to put aside possible items of value. They’re not trained art historians, however.
Therefore, some hidden treasures fall through the cracks! The painting turned out to be by Italian 19th-century artist Giovanni Battista Torriglia. The employee that discovered it in a Virginia Goodwill is named Maria Rivera. She learned that the painting could be auctioned off for much as $20,000.
NEXT: Paintings aren’t the only thing worth a lot — video games are too!
7. Stadium Events video game cartridge
Sold for $25,000, bought for $8
Jennifer Thompson and her husband were strapped for cash when she miraculously found an incredibly valuable video game. She was at — you guessed it — Goodwill, rummaging through $1 DVDs and clothes when she ran across a copy of Stadium Events for Nintendo, said an ESPN article.
Luckily she already knew of its value from reading a Yahoo article. She bought the video game for $8, hoping the clerk wouldn’t recognize the valuable game. An orthodontist/video game collector named Tod Curtis purchased the game at an auction for an outrageous $25,000.
NEXT: This bowl from the 18th-century turned up in a thrift store in Somerset.
8. 18th-century Chinese censer
Worth about $27,491, bought for about $2.62
A censer is a bowl with four legs like the image featured below. The one in the photograph isn’t the one valued at over $27,000, but it’s very similar. Discovered a thrift store in Somerset, a buyer with a good eye for vintage finds purchased the ornate bowl for 2 British Pounds (GBP).
It turned out to be an 18th-century bowl from China, says The Sun. It was made of metal, measured 4.5 inches, weighed about one pound, and was decorated with a turquoise design. The Sun spoke to specialist Mark Grant who said the bowl was from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor.
NEXT: This German student was literally sitting on a fortune.
9. Sofa with a valuable 1600s painting in it
Sold for $27,630, found in a sofa
We have another painting but this time it wasn’t found in a Goodwill or other kind of thrift store — it was found in a sofa. A German student bought an old sofa bed at a flea market for $215. When she pulled out the bed, she found a painting.
It was a 1600s painting called “Preparation to Egypt” painted by an unknown artist, the Kunst Kettler auction house told the Associated Press. That auction house sold the painting for a whopping $27,630 in 2007. That student made a serious profit off that couch, no?
NEXT: A Goodwill find yields a very valuable Diamond but not the kind you’re thinking.
10. Ilya Bolotowsky painting Vertical Diamond
Worth $34,375, bought for $10
Beth Feeback went into an Oakridge, North Carolina Goodwill store in 2012 to buy a blanket but ended up finding a lot more than that. She spotted a couple of paintings available for purchase at $10 each and decided to buy them to paint over the canvases.
Thankfully, a friend stopped her from painting over the abstract paintings, telling her to do some research on the painter first. A label from Weatherspoon Art Museum was found on the back of the painting, which turned out to be Vertical Diamond by 20th-century abstract artist, Ilya Bolotowsky.
NEXT: Sometimes it takes a collector to pick out the most valuable items from the Goodwill shelf.
11. 1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm Watch
Sold for $35,000, bought for $5.99
Zach Norris spotted an unassuming wristwatch at a Phoenix, Arizona Goodwill. A regular customer might pass over such a piece, but being a collector, Norris gave it another look. Upon inspection, “the center face dial moved,” Norris told KTVK, “And that’s when I knew it was real.”
Norris ran out of Goodwill to call his brother about his find. According to KTVK, there were only 900 of these particular watches ever made — perhaps adding to the watches’ value? Norris didn’t care to keep it but ended up selling it to a collector in San Francisco for $35,000.
NEXT: These valuable photos were stashed between records at a Habitat for Humanity Restore.
12. Eve Arnold, Burk Uzzle, Elliott Erwitt
Worth about $24,000-$36,000
This thrift store find turned out to be a major one. Kent Shrewsbury and his son, Kenneth Solis, stopped by a Habitat for Humanity Restore in Anaheim, California one day. Solis went directly to the records and starting flipping through the vinyl. He discovered black and white photos between the records, recounts the OC Register.
Some of the people in the photos Shrewsbury recognized, including Marilyn Monroe and her third husband, Arthur Miller. Turns out the collection of photos were by famed 20th-century photographers like Eve Arnold, Burk Uzzle, and Elliot Erwitt. The father and son took them to Antiques Roadshow for appraisal.
NEXT: Remember: Once it hits that donation pile, you can’t take it back!
13. Edouard Léon Cortès painting
Sold for $40,600, found by a Goodwill employee
Sometimes Goodwill employees are able to spot the valuable items from the piles of donations. This was the case for an impressionist painting by Edouard Léon Cortès. An employee of a Maryland Goodwill found the piece of art worth $40,600. It was probably from the early 20th-century, says the Associated Press.
The Goodwill’s manager Googled the artist’s name, confirming that this painting could possibly be worth a lot. Called “Marche Aux Fleurs” (“Flower Market” in English), the painting was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2008 for $40,600. The donor of the painting is out of luck, Goodwill says, because it doesn’t keep track of donors.
NEXT: When costume jewelry turns out to be the real thing.
14. Brooch worn by a Russian czarina
Sold for $43,000, bought for $31
When a British woman named Thea Jourdan spotted a sparkly brooch (like the one pictured) on sale for $31, she decided to buy it for her 4-year-old daughter. Assuming it was costume jewelry, Jourdan thought it would make a nice addition to her daughter’s toy box. Her daughter loved it, wearing it all about town.
The rest of her family also assumed it was costume jewelry surrounded by fake diamonds, says MoneyWise. While Jourdan was getting her engagement ring valued for insurance, an appraiser spotted the brooch. Turns out it was a brooch worn by a Russian czarina!
NEXT: This sweater bought for 58 cents turned out to be worth tens of thousands.
15. Vince Lombardi sweater
Worth $43,020, bought for 58 cents
Former punk singer turned vintage clothing business owner, Sean “Prawn” McEvoy was scouring clothing for additions to his business when he stumbled upon an intriguing find. It was a West Point sweater that appeared to be similar to one that famed NFL player Vince Lombardi had worn in a documentary.
McEvoy checked the tag inside — “Lombardi 46” was inscribed on it. The lucky buyer made a few calls and took a trip to Dallas to confirm that the sweater did indeed belong to the Hall of Famer, says The Stranger. The public might know Lombardi’s name from the name of the Super Bowl trophy: The Vince Lombardi Trophy.
NEXT: This item is especially prized by collectors of Asian artifacts, says Sydney Morning Herald.
16. 17th-century “libation cup” from China
Sold for $75,640, bought for $4
The seller of this prize told the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia that he spotted a cup on the shelf of a thrift store (much like the one in the photo) and thought it looked special. He bought it, then did some research to determine if it might be worth more.
He took some photos of the cup and sent it to Ann Roberts, a specialist in Asian Art at Sotheby’s. Roberts confirmed it was both a rare and incredibly valuable 17th-century Chinese “libation cup” carved from a rhino horn. Although it sold for quite a sum, the Sydney Morning Herald says similar items have sold for more.
NEXT: This sports memorabilia yielded more cash than the Vince Lombardi sweater.
17. Augusta National Golf Club jacket
Sold for $139,349, bought for $5
This green sporting jacket belonged to a member of the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club in Canada, but there’s no clue as to who it belonged to, says CBC. Most intriguing of all, the name tag was cut out. Who wouldn’t want people to know they belonged to this club?
More importantly, why would they want to give up an insignia that signaled their belonging to such a prestigious club? “If someone didn’t know what it was, or it was discarded, you wouldn’t think they would take the time to cut the name out,” Ryan Carey told CBC (his auction house sold the jacket).
NEXT: Goodwill narrowly lost out on thousands on this painting.
18. Frank Weston Benson painting
Sold for $165,002, bought for $10
Originally, the watercolor by Frank Weston Benson was placed on shopgoodwill.com for an asking price of $10. Once the painting’s creator was confirmed, the price skyrocketed, says The Oregonian. Benson was an American artist known for realistic portraits. His art resides in prestigious institutions.
Some of those include the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Frank Benson is a top-tier impressionist,” Matthew W. Gerber, an appraiser, told The Oregonian. “When they put this up, they didn’t have a clue what it was.” Seems like the donor lost out on $165,002!
NEXT: Antiques Roadshow appraised this item to be between $20,000 to $30,000 but it sold for way more.
19. 17th-century Flemish painting
Sold for $190,000, bought for $3
This particular precious piece was appraised at the Antiques Roadshow where the seller learned of its worth and origin. An 81-year-old South Carolina man, who only wanted to be known as “Leroy” on WYFF’s coverage, told the news station he found the painting at a Goodwill.
While Leroy was browsing the Goodwill on South Mainstream in Anderson, South Carolina, a framed painting caught his eye. He thought he could resell it for $50 on eBay, but turns out he could resell it for $190,000!
NEXT: Turns out the artist featured at the exhibit she was visiting was also the one that made her necklace.
20. 1940s Alexander Calder necklace
Worth $300,000, bought for $15
A Philadelphia woman was visiting the Philadelphia Art Museum looking at the Alexander Calder exhibit. It dawned on her that the necklace she was wearing (a bold fashion choice she purchased at a flea market in 2005 for $15) was very similar to the ones featured in the Calder exhibit. Could it be the real deal?
It turned out to be an authentic 1940s work created by famed sculptor Alexander Calder (we speak of him in slide five), says MoneyWise. If she had never gone to the art museum, she’d have never known she had $300,000 around her neck!
NEXT: This painting worth hundreds of thousands was stuffed in a drawer for 10 years.
21. John Constable painting
Worth over $390,000, bought for $46
Imagine getting a random painting from your dad, only to find out he had stuffed almost $400,000 in a drawer for many years? Robin Darvell had purchased a box of old junk at an auction in England for $46, says MoneyWise. He found a small postcard size painting in there.
After living in Darvell’s drawer for over 10 years, Darvell passed on the small painting to his son. After spotting a signature on the back of the landscape painting, the son did some investigating to determine if the painting had value. Turned out it was a 19th-century painting by English painter John Constable!
NEXT: You might double check all of your costume jewelry after you read this story.
22. 26-carat diamond ring cut in the 1800s
Worth about $455,000, bought for $13
Sotheby’s sold this diamond ring (similar to the one pictured, though with a much bigger stone) in 2017 after its owners had bought it for $13 at a London junk sale. The owner assumed that because of its low price, it was probably just costume jewelry. The owner wore it out doing errands and chores.
After some years, she finally had it appraised and discovered its true value. The appraiser determined it was a 26-carat diamond ring cut in the 1800s! Bet she stopped wearing it to do chores after discovering that! Something that valuable is best in a box tucked away — or sold!
NEXT: Collectors of American historical artifacts will flip out about this find.
23. One of 200 copies of Declaration of Independence
Sold for $477,650, bought for $2.48
Michael Sparks was browsing through a thrift store in Nashville, Tennessee when he spotted an intriguing looking document — it was what appeared to be a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence. Why would one of 200 reproductions commissioned by John Quincy Adams be there?
Turns out that’s exactly what it was! This was commissioned in 1820 and found decades later by Sparks in 2006. Of the 200 reproductions, the one Sparks came across is only the 36th one to ever be found, said MoneyWise.
NEXT: Can you imagine this Andy Warhol design was just sitting in a thrift store?
24. Philip Treacy bag with Andy Warhol design
Worth about $450,00, bought for about $25.90
Novice antique hunter John Richard was browsing an Oxfam in Kingston when a handbag with an Elvis Presley design popped out at him. The distinctive design was done by legendary pop artist Andy Warhol. “I was shocked that it had ended up there,” Richards told Ham & High.
Suspecting it was probably a Philip Treacy bag, Richard took the bag to one of the designer’s stores to confirm. When the Ham & High article was written in 2012, the bag was suspected to be worth $450,000 but some experts doubted that.
NEXT: Chinese art collectors were scrambling to buy this item.
25. Chinese bamboo brush pot
Sold for $470,000
A small wooden pot like the one pictured was donated to St Peter’s Hospice charity shop — the donor likely thinking it was just another household knick-knack. Little did they know (most likely they didn’t know) that this small brush pot would set the art world aflame with excitement!
Although the pot was cracked, it was still in high demand, says The Telegraph. Apparently, there’s only a handful of people qualified to fix the pot. “Luckily its potential was spotted and it is an incredibly rare thing made by one of the most sought after bamboo artists of the 17th century,” an expert told The Telegraph.
NEXT: A Catholic priest found this incredibly valuable painting.
26. Anthony van Dyck painting
Worth $660,000, bought for about $518.18
Catholic priest Father Jamie McLeod purchased a painting at an antique shop that turned out to be by Flemish Baroque artist, Anthony van Dyck. This talented Flemish artist had been painting since he was a child, ultimately becoming a leading court painter in England.
McLeod wanted to sell the painting to pay for new church bells “to commemorate the centenary of the ending of the First World War in 2018,” he told Art Fix Daily. According to the BBC, the painting didn’t sell for its expected $660,000. The estimation was determined by the British Antiques Roadshow.
NEXT: Very few of this artisan’s creations survived the American Revolution.
27. Teapot designed by John Bartlam
Sold for $806,000, bought for $20
Its seller originally picked it up at an online auction. They were shocked to find out that this wasn’t just any old teapot but one created by the highly regarded artisan and master potter John Bartlam. Chipstone regarded him as “America’s first porcelain manufacturer.”
Very few of Bartlam’s works made it past the American Revolution, making them extremely rare and valuable. The seller of this expensive teapot was able to fetch $806,000 for it at a 2018 auction. Lesson of the day? Double check your thrift store finds!
NEXT: This might be one of the few known photos of this American outlaw.
28. Photos of Billy the Kid
Worth $5 million, bought for $2
Can you imagine buying a photo from a Fresno, California junk shop, only to have it be worth millions? This is the ultimate dream come true for any amateur or professional antique hunter. The photo in question shows ghostly cowboy figures playing croquet in 1878 in New Mexico.
The people photographed are thought to be members of the Wild West gang, The Regulators, and Henry McCarty, aka Billy the Kid. Collector Randy Guijarro found the photo, says the Guardian and had it authenticated by Kagin’s.
NEXT: If this painting is the real thing, it could yield a ton of cash.
29. Possible Jackson Pollock painting
Possibly worth $9 million, bought for $5
Teri Horton bought a huge “ugly” painting for $5 from a thrift store to cheer up her friend. The friend thought it was hilarious but didn’t have room for it at her house. Horton took the painting back and tried to sell it at a garage sale.
An art teacher suggested that the painting might be a Jackson Pollock. Horton then hired a forensic art specialist to trace the painting’s origins, says the LA Times. Using triple fingerprint recognition, the specialist determined it was real. Some experts doubt this, however.
NEXT: Fourteen thousand dollars seems like a large buying price until you see that you can flip this egg for.
30. Long-lost Faberge egg
Estimated at $33 million, bought for $14,000
When a scrap metal dealer first purchased this egg, he had no idea that it was a long-lost Faberge egg made specifically for Russian royalty in the late 1800s, says MoneyWise. Thinking it was just an ornate egg he could melt down to make a small profit, he bought it for $14,000.
Luckily, the scrap metal dealer did some Googling to determine the egg’s origins before destroying it. After finding a 2011 article detailing the hunt for a long-lost Faberge egg, he took the egg to a Faberge expert. The expert confirmed the egg’s worth and it was sold for an undisclosed amount.