Celebrity Memorabilia Won at Storage Auctions

rare beetles record found in storage unit

The Beach Boys Paperwork

A unit listed as containing “documents and papers” indeed contained documents and papers. Specifically, $10 million worth of The Beach Boys’ contracts, lyrics, music and royalty checks. The band sued, but the auction winners retained ownership and resold the entire collection.

“Deliverance” Props

Apparently, Burt Reynolds is a hoarder. For somebody else, it pays when Reynolds forgets his storage unit rent. The canoe, arrows and jacket from the movie Deliverance made their home at the now defunct Burt Reynolds museum.

Michael Jordan Letters

Two recruitment letters for basketball star and Space Jam champion Michael Jordan were found in North Carolina. Why Carolina? The letters came from UNC head coach Dean Smith and assistant Bill Guthridge. Bidding started at $5,000 and $2,500 respectively.

Dikembe Motumbo Collection

The basketball star and humanitarian leader’s brother fell behind on rent while visiting the Congo on family business. The winner reached out to Motumbo, but did not hear back. The collection included photos with Nelson Mandela and Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson Tracks and Photos

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a case of someone simply stumbling upon amazing treasure. One of the Jacksons’ business partners bought up a delinquent unit when the family went bankrupt in 1999. After the singer’s death, Michael Jackson’s estate sued for the rights to the material and won.

Given the prominent role of pop culture, I expect more valuable pieces of celebrity memorabilia will be found in storage units. If you find a treasure, you’ll first want to make sure it’s authentic. Then, see what similar items sell for on reputable dealer sites.

What will you find?

Don’t Judge Storage Auctions by Their Locations


If you think the best storage auction facilities are nestled in Beverly Hills, where the rich and famous stash their spare diamond-encrusted toilet seats, you’d be forgiven. But you can’t judge a storage facility by its zip code. Here’s why:

People Shop Around

Yes, proximity to where you live is a good thing when selecting a storage unit facility, but it’s not everything. People will also compare prices, security, contract terms, and company reputation.

Neighborhoods Change

Sometimes they decline, and sometimes they improve. Facilities also change hands and with that can come a change in image, terms, and clientele. Some families will keep renting out the same unit for years through all these changes.

Income levels

Income levels aren’t limited to one geographic area, and vice versa. There are some areas of the country starkly segregated by income. Most places are more mixed than that, with vastly different income levels living within blocks or even streets of each other.

So, Where are the Best Storage Auctions?

Ask seasoned bidders and they’ll answer, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” The best kept secrets are, well, secrets. Crowds showing up at an auction mean good news for the auctioneer and facility staff; not so much for the bidders, who end up having to bid higher and shell out more cash for the same type of haul they could get somewhere else.

There’s also the little matter of how you define “best.” An experienced bidder tends to define it as how much they can get for the smallest bid. A novice might define it as how much weird, cool, rare stuff they can get for whatever they’re willing to bid. Different strokes.

Ultimately, it takes time to find your best locations. Familiarize yourself with storage facilities nearby. Check different types of listings. And take advantage of online auctions

Pros and Cons of Sniping

frustrated man

If you spend time participating in online auctions, you’re familiar with the practice of sniping. Waiting until the last few seconds of a timed auction to place the winning bid is deemed essential strategy by some and foul play by others.


Bidding at the last minute tends to reduce the cost of the item because by waiting to place your bid, you avoid bidding wars. You also protect yourself from dishonest sellers who might place bids on their own items to drive up the price.


Some buyers object to sniping because they feel they do not have time to counter-bid. Because of this, online auction sites have implemented some solutions:

  • Automatic extension: whenever a bid is placed, the end of the auction is postponed for a few minutes, giving other interested buyers time to react.
  • Deterrents to sniping software: some auction sites require users to enter a CAPTCHA to prevent the use of automatic sniping software.
  • Buy It Now: on eBay, the Buy it Now option allows sellers to set a price for which buyers can purchase an item without participating in an auction.
  • Maximum bid option: when placing a bid, potential buyers can enter a maximum bid amount. When the auction closes, if the maximum bid amount exceeds the last-minute bids, the item will sell for the maximum bid amount. This way, buyers can win an auction without having to lurk around for the last moments of a listing.

For sellers, the main disadvantage of sniping is it subverts the bidding wars that drive up prices. The above solutions address seller and buyer concerns alike.

What do you think about sniping? Comment below!


StorageTreasures.com Acquires Storagestuff.bid

storage treasures

StorageTreasures, LLC, the owner of StorageTreasures.com, the storage industry’s leading online auction platform, announced it has acquired StorageStuff.Bid, a well-respected competing online storage auction site. As part of the transaction Cheli and Chris Rosa, both seasoned auctioneers and employees of StorageStuff.Bid, will join OpenTech Alliance, Inc., managers of StorageTreasures.com and majority stakeholder of StorageTreasures, LLC. As part of the deal, over 700 self-storage facilities that have been posting auctions on StorageStuff.Bid will be added to the StorageTreasure.com site making the largest online storage auction platform in the world, even larger.

“We have always had a great relationship with the folks at StorageStuff.Bid and are very excited to now be on the same team. With Cheli and Chris on board, we are the only online auction company to have professionally licensed auctioneers in all states where it is required, which gives our customers a level of protection not available with other online auction sites. They add a ton of credibility to what we’re doing, a wealth of knowledge, and valuable expertise as it pertains to lien laws for both traditional and online auctions,” claimed Robert A. Chiti, CEO of OpenTech Alliance, Inc.

Chiti added, “Cheli will be responsible for supporting the StorageStuff.Bid customers as well as improving our facility manager and auction buyer training programs. We are going to put Chris to work on expanding our Auction Review Service. In addition, we are going to rely on both of them to teach us how we can better support Auctioneers with their live auctions.”

“We have been an OpenTech and StorageStuff.Bid customer for many years. The merger of OpenTech’s technology expertise with Chris and Cheli’s auction experience is a great thing for us and the industry. We trust them to ensure our lien sales are done properly and that we get as much money possible for our delinquent tenant’s goods,” Marc Harris, Vice President of Metro Storage.

“We are proud of what we have accomplished at StorageStuff.Bid, but realized that it was going to be very difficult to compete with the level of investment OpenTech is making in StorageTreasures.com. The amount of money they spend on digital marketing, auction buyer programs, customer service and technology innovations is staggering, so we felt joining forces was the right move. The one area they were weak was actual auction experience. Chris and I are filling that gap and bringing them our years of experience running both online and live auctions as well as our professional auctioneer licenses”, stated Cheli Rosa from StorageStuff.Bid.

The company expects to have all StorageStuff.Bid customers transitioned within 90 days, at which time the StorageStuff.Bid site will be shut down. After the transition, StorageTreasures.com will represent 8,500 facilities, 900,000 active buyers, and 15,000 monthly auctions. As the leader in online storage auctions, StorageTreasures has completed well over 1,000,000 successful auctions for self-storage facilities.

About StorageTreasures
Founded in 2010, StorageTreasures offers the most comprehensive self-storage auction platform available on the internet. In addition to storage auction hunters, the site serves auctioneers, appraisers, pickers, yard sale buyers, self-storage customers, and facility owners throughout the US and Canada. OpenTech Alliance, Inc. owns a majority of StorageTreasures, LLC and manages StorageTreasures.com.

About OpenTech Alliance 
OpenTech Alliance, Inc. is the leading developer of innovative technology solutions for the self storage industry. The company’s products and services include the INSOMNIAC line of self serve kiosks , INSOMNIAC Live! call center , INSOMNIAC CIA access control system and StorageTreasures.com online storage auctions. OpenTech solutions are designed to improve the customer experience, reduce operating costs and increase revenues for self-storage facilities.

10 Ways To Profit From A Storage Auction

hunting auctions
10 Ways To Profit From A Storage Auction

When you get into the storage bidding business, you can be competing with dozens, sometimes hundreds of other bidders for only a few units. In order to make the most of your opportunity to profit from a winning bid, you need to be knowledgeable about not only the items themselves but how to determine what may be hidden in each unit before you even begin the bidding process.

This includes being prepared with a plan of action, capital, a bidding strategy, and knowing what to look for in every storage unit.
Here are a few steps to follow and things to consider to maximize your profit margin:

Locate Worthwhile Storage Auctions

You are likely to have multiple auctions happening in your area on any given day, so choosing the one that will give you the opportunity to make the most profit out of your time is crucial. Visiting them individually can be time-consuming, so choose them from a storage auction list that is available online. Check out their website first which should list the auction dates. You can then get an idea of their regularly scheduled auction times, and plan accordingly.

Create a Plan

Not only does the actual scheduling of each auction in your daily planner need to happen, but the pre-planning stages of what to do with the items once you have won your bid needs to be taken into consideration. Figure out how you will transport the storage contents from the site and if you will pay someone to help you with this in anticipation of larger items that you can’t move alone. This includes the cost of renting a vehicle or trailer.

Bid Wisely

Take a financial inventory of what is within your means to bid. Know what your capital threshold is and stick to it. Consistently bidding over your financial means will cut your profit margin more and more, leading to no profit at all. Consistently set your bidding boundaries and stick to them.

What Should I Look For?
Most every storage auction begins with the auctioneer giving the bidders an opportunity to view the contents of each unit. This is your opportunity to get a feel for what the items are actually worth and how to properly bid. These are some of the things you should be typically looking for if any items inside could possibly hold any value:

Climate Control

The importance of this cannot be measured whether you live in an area where the climate is exceedingly humid all year or varied between extreme heat and cold. When people store valuables, they often don’t take into consideration the damage that weather conditions may have on paper items like comic books and sports card, or metal objects for oxidation from extreme moisture. Climate control alleviates these issues.

Overall Quality of Visible Items

Don’t try to guess what may be in the boxes in a storage unit; instead, make a determination by observing any items that are not in boxes. If you see one or two things that are definitely antique quality, then the odds are there are more contained in the boxes as well. But, if you see a whole lot of piles of rusty junk, then the boxes will probably contain more of the same.

Professional Moving Boxes

When people take the time to hire a professional moving company, it usually means that they have items that take greater care to move and so must be of greater value. Not many people will pay money to move furniture they have already bought second hand or hand-me-down appliances.


If you observe them in a storage unit, it could be mean you are looking at quite valuable contents. An even layer of dust on all the contents usually tells a bidder that the storage unit has been left undisturbed for a long time. If there is a smattering of open boxes among untouched ones, then more than likely anything of value has already been removed from the unit.

Know Your “Junk”

What may look like junk to an untrained eye is actually a goldmine to someone who knows what they are looking at and how much it is worth. Many people store what appears to be garbage in their storage units and are actually objects that can be turned into scrap yards for cash. Anything that looks like copper, steel, coils of electrical wire that may contain copper or other precious metals, and boxes of random metal were probably collected for a reason. Become familiar with what the going rate is for scrap metal in your area and how to identify it.

Know When to Pass

Use your best judgment when you are making a decision to bid on a storage unit. Don’t always feel like you are going to be missing out on the find of the century just because you are listening to the buzz from the other bidders about the unit. They may be trying to persuade others to bid on it and waste their money so they can reap the profits from other units in the auction that are yet unseen. So, have confidence in what you observe when the unit is opened, and focus on what your intuition is telling you as opposed to what you are hearing from other bidders.

Reselling the Items
Once you have made all the right decisions about bidding and found your treasures, you need to follow your plan through with selling techniques that maximize your bottom line. You can choose one of the following means of reselling or do several of these on a regular basis:

• Open your own store
• Use a third-party seller (consignment shop)
• Sell online only (eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace among others)
• Yard sale
• Flea Markets

There are several other means to sell individual items that you can explore depending upon the value of an item and what the item actually is since there may be specific buyers that collect certain things.

Movie Props Found In Storage Units

Wall E Robot

While movie props often pop up in the homes of the actors who take them home afterwards, or at a public museum, others have randomly been found in storage units that have been auctioned off. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does we’re pretty starstruck!

Lotus Espirit Submarine

In 1989, a Long Island contractor bought a random storage unit for $100. Upon opening the unit, the man and his brother came across a giant lump that turned out to be the Lotus Submarine. At that time, neither man had seen James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me, so they didn’t realize what they had stumbled across. Eventually, his neighbor clued him in and he watched the movie, but he still didn’t realize the value of his find until the Ian Fleming Foundation tracked it down– $1 million.

Read More: Uplifting: Father’s Portrait Returned to Son by Auction Winner

Planet of the Apes Vest

In a 2012 episode of Storage Wars, two of the show’s main cast members came across a vest worn in the original Planet of the Apes. Though rumors spread that the discovery was staged, that has never been confirmed.

The Death Star

The storage unit housing the Death Star wasn’t even auctioned. When the account became delinquent, the facility threw everything in the unit away. Luckily, an employee spied the Death Star in the trash and exclaimed, “That’s no moon!” At least, I hope he did.

The Death Star

It’s hard to one-up the Death Star, but a unit auctioned off in 2011 contained a whopping 40,000 pieces of movie memorabilia, including Disney animation cels, original Tim Burton artwork, signed Wizard of Oz books and pop culture swag beyond any ComicCon attendee’s wildest dreams. Somehow, the Hollywood execs who stashed their valuables in the locker over a period of decades kept forgetting to pay the rent.

Interestingly enough, there’s been even more memorabilia found.

Is it Real Gold or Silver? How to Tell

jewlery in storage locker

When it comes to jewelry, there are convincing fakes and there are unimpressive gems (literally). Some simple tests can save you a trip to the appraiser if it turns out the pieces are fake.

Jeweler’s Stamp

The first thing you want to do to determine whether jewelry is authentic is to check for markings. No, don’t throw it in a fire and wait for Elven script to appear, silly hobbit. Instead, look for karats on gold and the the letter S or number 925 on silver. Of course, a clever counterfeiter might stamp a fake ring, but costume jewelry won’t be stamped. Be aware, however, that rings purchased outside the U.S. also might not be stamped.

Read More: Antique or Old Junk? How to Identify Antiques

The Magnet Test

Hold gold or silver up to a magnet, and it won’t stick. The problem with this test is that some other metals share this property, so it doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of less valuable materials.

Signs of Wear

If the metal is a different color in spots where the jewelry is worn down, it’s likely gold- or silver-plated.

Chemical and Physical Tests

You can investigate deeper by subjecting the jewelry to physical and chemical tests. If you don’t want to risk damaging a potentially valuable find, it’s best to have an appraiser take a look.

Take it to an Appraiser

A professional appraiser will know how to identify metals and gems without damaging jewelry. They’ll be able to tell you the karats, whether it’s pure or coated, whether the gems are natural or lab-made, whether the style can be considered antique, and what all of that means for insurance valuation. This value indicates how much you can collect if your insurance covers the item against theft or damage. It does not necessarily indicate the resale value.

Want more helpful tips? Upgrade to our Auction Buyer Pro Membership!

Think Before You Brag


The thing about bragging rights is that if you use them, you draw attention to yourself. If you score a big win at a storage auction, your inclination might be to shout it from the mountaintops, but here are some reasons you might want to curb your enthusiasm:

You Don’t Realize How Many Friends You Have Until…

Conventional wisdom says to be discreet if you come upon a windfall. You’ll need time to figure out what to do with the money. In fact, if you strike it really rich, you might even want to hire a financial adviser to help you with tax issues. An adviser will also walk you through your options, such as investments, so that your newfound wealth will last longer than it would if you went with your wildest spending dreams.

Read More: What to Look for in Storage Units

What Kind of Person Stashes Cash in a Storage Unit? Oh, Right.

A buyer in San Jose found half a million dollars in cash. The auctioneer gave the sage advice to keep it on the DL. That amount of untraceable cash likely has shady origins in the black market. It’s wise to report such an influx of income to the IRS. As for reporting it to the police, you should contact an attorney first to find out about local laws about finding cash.


Have you ever seen a local news story about a convenience store that sold the winning lottery ticket? After that lucky event, business tends to flourish, at least until the excitement wears off. This is great for business owners, but in the context of storage auctions, it’s not so great. More bidders means higher prices as more people drive prices up. So, if you’re a seasoned buyer, you’ll be inclined to keep the bidding pool small.

Speaking of stampede, if you want to avoid possibly getting run over after hitting the jackpot, try online auctions from Storage Treasures.

Selling The Missing Piece


If you’ve ever “completed” a 5,000-piece puzzle only to discover it’s missing pieces, your sense of accomplishment might be dimmed. Because of this, it’s bad form to resell games or puzzles that are missing pieces, unless you clearly state what’s missing. Some venues don’t even allow that. After all, these products are supposed to be fun diversions, not exercises in futility.

So, can you make money off incomplete board games, Lego sets, and puzzles? Here’s the scoop:

Read More: Meet Vivian Maier, A Storage Treasure

Game Pieces

There’s been a lot of buzz about game pieces lately. Hasbro’s Monopoly, for instance, retired the boot, wheelbarrow, and thimble. If you’re superstitious and swear that you can only win if you play the thimble, you can buy a replacement game piece online. It follows that you can sell game pieces individually as a complete set or in a bundle. The same is true of dice, cards, and other parts or accessories.


Legos get everywhere. Show me a kid who keeps his or her Legos perfectly organized at all times, and I’ll send a team of researchers to study the phenomenon. But Legos aren’t just for kids; in fact, the more complex builds are designed for teens and adults. Understandably, if you’ve spent hours putting together an expensive set only to find you’re missing a piece, you’re going to look for that piece everywhere.

Once you’ve overturned the couch cushions, moved the furniture, and emptied the vacuum cleaner, you might look online. If you do, you’ll find there’s a whole community dedicated to Legos, where you can buy the parts you need.


Selling individual replacement puzzle pieces isn’t a realistic option for a number of reasons. Identifying each piece is time-consuming for starters, and even if you and the potential buyer both identify it correctly, there’s no guarantee it will fit due to the way puzzles are made. However, you can get crafty. A quick search on Pinterest might inspire you to start a puzzle piece side business.

Instruction Booklets

Don’t forget there’s also demand for instruction booklets. This applies not only to games and Lego sets, but also to embroidery kits, model-building kits, and basically anything where someone would be lost without the instructions. Manufacturers will sometimes replace booklets for free, or make them available as downloads, but not all instructions can be tracked down this way.

If you want to resell games, it’s a good idea to check that all the pieces are included. In the case of puzzles and complex building kits, if you don’t want to check by putting them together, it might be enough to list the item with a “buyer beware – used items may not have all the pieces.”

Hunting for puzzles and Legos? Check out our Toys, Baby & Games auctions!

Terrible is the New Valuable: VHS Edition


Let’s take a walk down memory lane to the time of brick-and-mortar video rental stores. There were two kinds of stores back in the day: the big chains and the local curiosities. The chains would fill most of their shelves with revenue-generating titles, which meant mostly new releases and popular films. As the industry digitized and brick and mortar stores tried to maximize profits before closing, fewer kitschy titles were stocked on the shelves.

Read More: How to Tell if Autographs are Authentic

VHS Tapes Value with Collectors

This is too bad because half the fun of browsing a local video store was stumbling across bizarre, questionable, and/or truly ridiculous titles. In fact, the video store has not gone extinct even in 2017, and those still in business capitalize on having a diverse range of titles — many of which aren’t available for streaming.

Okay, sure, they might not be available for streaming in part because they’re terrible flops. But Mystery Science Theater 3000 remains popular because it features films that weren’t exactly blockbusters. The Rocky Horror Picture Show and other cult classics are beloved for being more than a little off (off the mark, off-color, off in left field – you know, just off). And we all have that friend who cajoles us into watching a movie because “it’s terrible, but it’s AWESOME!”

Point being? If you find some truly weird video or even DVD titles in a storage unit, don’t assume nobody will buy them. Films that never made it to DVD can fetch three figures – yes, without a decimal point! Look for wild cover art, hackneyed genre flicks, exploitation films, foreign films (including anime), banned titles, complete TV series, and wrestling. The black diamond Disney collection claims are false, but you might strike gold with Bash at the Beach 2000.

Those VHS tapes you found in our Movies, Music & Books auctions may actually be worth something.

Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu! Star Trek Props in Storage

star trek

If you’ve ever wanted to boldly go where no one has gone before, you might want to take a second look at furniture finds. Star Trek: The Original Series possesses a campy charm when we watch it over 50 years later. These were the olden days of TV production when custom props were no more than slightly altered everyday objects. Because of this, the future doesn’t always look particularly futuristic; a fact that Dax nods to during the classic DS9 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations.

Read More: Getting Started Reselling Toys from Storage Units

Take Kirk’s chair, for example. It’s a receptionist chair manufactured by Madison Furniture Industries. The original captain’s chair used on the Star Trek set sold for over $300K at auction in 2002, but if you’re handy, you can make your own using the ubiquitous office chair as a base.

The Enterprise briefing room was furnished less elaborately than the bridge. It’s easy to give any place a 23rd-century feel with Burke chairs, models 115 and 116. Dress up the chairs with a few triangles, and you’re ready to explore the galaxy.

Even if you’re not a Trekkie, you can take advantage of this Hollywood intel to market old office furniture to those who might want to reconstruct old set pieces for themselves. Finding these chairs in a storage unit won’t be quite a profitable as finding original props, but you might be able to put some gold-pressed latinum in your pocket nevertheless.

As a lasting pop culture staple, Star Trek memorabilia still sell strong. How can you tell if something is an original prop or a replica? You could look for manufacturer labels. Or, you could look for Tootsie Pop residue courtesy of Mr. Spock. According to props master John Dywer, Leonard Nimoy found it perfectly logical to stash lollipops in the tricorders used on set.

Live long and prosper on your next auction journey.

A Spirit Animal

storage unit

An Auction Bidder’s Guide to Finding Your Spirit Animal

The Auction Bidder’s Spirit Animal Guide is designed to help you discover your truest bidding nature, and let you see the animal who lives inside you. Are you ready to meet your Spirit Animal?
Scroll down and let’s get started.

The Eye of the Vulture – An auction Vulture is intelligent, and has a keen eye for spotting good deals. Vultures have learned how to grid view auctions in order to view quickly, many more auctions on one page. Their focus is searching out auction prices from $0 to $10.

Leave it to BeaverThis spirit animal wins one dam Beaver auction after another. They are the busiest of all bidders. They Hunt out auctions, Buy aggressively, have numerous resources to Sell, and these eager beavers make great Profit. (A few resources might be eBay, Craigslist, Offer-Up, garage sales, etc…).

Oh, look a Squirrel!A Squirrel spirit is nuts about auctions. They are the true treasure hunter. The squirrel bids on storage units that are chalk full of hidden treasures. A squirrel bidder observes the storage unit size, and the description “Must-Contain” lots of boxes and totes. Any dirt or dust in a unit will entice the squirrel to bid even more.

Cunning as a FoxFox bidders are snipers and very clever. All StorageTreasures auctions have a soft close feature. This allows bidding to go for as long as there are bids. A Fox is out of luck because they can’t snipe our auctions.

Maltese FalconThe Falcon is the perfect hunter. He sees an item and swoops in for the win. This bidder already has the items sold before he has won the auction.

Soar like an Eagle – The Eagle spirit is our high roller. They soar above the rest in vision and funds.  Their bidding power comes from their ability to spot an auction they want from across state lines and go for it.

Memory of an ElephantIf the Elephant is your spirit animal then you are able to remember, through past experiences, how large of a truck is needed to clean out a unit. And most importantly an elephant never forgets the clean out time!

Reserved TurtleTurtle time is max bidding time! A Turtle spirit animal bidder lets the system bid for him. He enters his max bid, under the bid management tab, and slowly goes about his day. He checks occasionally and ups the max bid when needed.

Bid Slow SlothThis spirit animal can be a new bidder, new to the online auction world, or a bidder who buys a few units now and then. He is very cautious and slow to make mistakes. The sloth is making sure we are The Industry’s Most Trusted Storage Auction Site. Hang in there sloth, we are!

Read More: Intro to Valuable Coins

Visit our Facebook page and post what spirit animal you are.

In conclusion: A StorageTreasures Tip

If your spirit animal is a Vulture, Beaver, Squirrel, Falcon, Eagle, Elephant or Turtle than a Pro Membership is a “Must-Have.”  For only $10/month or $100/year, enjoy 10% buyer’s premium and a dedicated VIP customer support phone number. Call Customer Support at 480-397-6503 for more information.

If your spirit animal is a Fox or Sloth then our free basic membership is perfect for you. The buyer’s premium is 15%, and once you get your feet wet move on up to the bigger animals.

Happy Hunting!