Zach Norris went to a Goodwill in Phoenix, Arizona with the plan of buying a new golf bag. But the watch section caught his eye. As he rummaged through all the watches, he was stunned when he found the watch in the above photo. He recognized it immediately as a 1959 LaCoultre Deep Sea Alarm. He ended up cashing in on his amazing find by selling the watch on Ebay for $35,000.
Beth Feeback was on her way to sell her cat paintings at an art show in North Carolina when she decided to pop into a Goodwill to buy a blanket. It was an unusually cold day. She then saw two huge paintings. She wasn’t a fan of the art, but she wanted to purchase the canvases so that she could paint over them with her own work. She bought the paintings and continued on to her art show. Her friend noticed that the back of the paintings were stamped with “Weatherspoon Art Gallery.”
So Beth did some research and I’m sure she’s very glad that she didn’t paint over the canvasses. It turns out that one of the paintings was “Vertical Diamond,” by famous abstract painter Ilya Bolotowsky.
An anonymous person from Australia spotted this cup in a thrift store in 2013. They figured that it might be worth more than the measly $4 they paid for it. They ended up taking a photo and sending it to a Sotheby’s auctioneer who thought that it might be a 17th century Chinese Libation Cup made from rhino horn. They were right. The guy who purchased the cup ended up selling it at auction and making some serious dough.
Now, you can maybe find enough change in your couch for a cup of coffee, but one student from Berlin found a fortune. The student purchased a pullout couch for $215, and when they opened it, they found this painting inside. It turns out this painting, called “Preparation to Escape to Egypt,” was painted in the 17th century and was worth thousands of dollars.
A man from Indiana wanted something to cover up a hole in his wall at home so he went to a local thrift shop to buy some art. He liked this still-life painting and decided to purchase it. Later, while playing a trivia game about famous art he realized that the painting was worth much more. It turned out to be the work of American still-life painter, Martin Johnson.
This is by far the most impressive find on this list, and the most lucrative. In 2000, Rick Norsigian purchased several glass plates with images of Yosemite National Park for just under $50. It turns out these were not prints, but the original works of world-famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams.
A man in England was shopping at a flea market when he noticed a Breitling watch for sale. Now Breitling watches are pretty well known and tend to be expensive, so he must of thought that spending $38 was a steal. But little did he know that this particular Breitling watch was even more valuable. It turns out that this was the watch Sean Connery wore as James Bond in the film Thunderball. The guy ended up taking it to Christies to be appraised and he was hit with another surprise: his particular watch was the first one modified by Q to include a Geiger counter.
Teri Horton, a retired truck driver, purchased this painting at a thrift shop in California 25 years ago. She originally planned on selling it at a yard sale, when an art teacher said that she may have an actual Jackson Pollock in her hands. She replied, “Who the $&% is Jackson Pollock?” Well, the art teacher was right. And Horton’s quote became the name of a documentary about how Horton tried to sell the painting.
The art world disagreed about the painting’s authenticity, but said that if it were real she could get $50 million for it. Collectors have offered her $9 million to buy it as is. However, Horton won’t let go of it for less than $50 million.
Andy Fields, an art collector, purchased five paintings for $5 at a garage sale in Las Vegas. He later found that behind one of the paintings was a sketch of singer Rudy Vallee, signed by none other than Andy Warhol.
Okay, this guy didn’t pay just a few bucks for this Fabergé egg, but the cash out is pretty nuts. A scrap metal dealer purchased this from a flea market originally for the purpose of melting it down for the gold. However, he got it appraised before doing that (thankfully). He found out that it was a gift from Czar Alexander III to his wife, Maria Feodorovna.
Michael Sparks was at the Music City Thrift Store in Nashville, Tennessee when he saw this copy of the Declaration of Independence. There are many mass-produced copies in existence, but Sparks thought that there was something special about this one. Its age and the distress of the parchment seemed authentic.
He got it appraised and it turns out it is a real copy of the original Declaration of Independence. It turns out that in 1820, Quincy Adams commissioned 200 copies of the Declaration. Sparks’ copy is one of only 35 in known existence.
A few years back, Randy Guijarro purchased three tintypes (photos printed on metal) that caught his eye at a thrift shop. Later that day as he was inspecting his purchase with a magnifying glass, he recognized one of the people in the photos as the outlaw, Billy the Kid. He took it to collectors who after some time where able to recognize all 18 people in the photos as members of Billy the Kid’s gang.
Besides Randy’s photo, there is only one other known photo of Billy the Kid.