Man Finds Safe Containing $7.5 Million In Cash

man fins millions in safe

A man who purchased the contents of a self-storage unit for $500 discovered a safe inside containing $7.5 million in cash, according to Dan and Laura Dotson, owners of American Auctioneers, the company that presided over the sale. The couple, who star on the A&E reality television series “Storage Wars,” learned of the discovery through a third party earlier this month and shared the story via Facebook video. They didn’t reveal the man’s identity or where the auction took place.

Dan Dotson was attending the Cars, Stars, Rock ‘N’ Roll & BBQ Festival in Indio, Calif., Nov. 2-4, when a woman whose husband works for the lucky auction winner approached Dan and shared the tale. According to the video, the man sought the services of two locksmiths before finding one who could or would open the safe.\

After the discovery, the man was approached by an attorney representing the safe owner, who offered him $600,000 to return the money. He declined the original offer but settled on $1.2 million, refunding the remainder of the cash. It’s unclear how the attorney learned of the auction or tracked down the winner.

 

What they would do in this situation?
Would you give the money back? Would you ask for a finders fee?

You would be surprised, at what you can find in a self-storage auction. Sometimes it might be more than just furniture and photo albums.

 

 

Source:
Daily Mail, Buyer Finds a Safe Containing $7.5M Inside Unit He Bought From Storage Wars Host.

This Car Was Hidden Away For 30 Years

hidden treasure in storage unit

The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe prototype sits in its rightful place, a museum founded by its current owner. The first of only six ever built, it was the first American manufactured car to defeat the Ferrari on its own turf, was engulfed by flames in Daytona, was driven through Los Angeles by a popular musician and then restricted to a storage unit for over 30 years. Many had believed the vehicle had been lost. Today though, over 50 years after being built it was found.

 

Created by American automotive entrepreneur, Carroll Shelby, who wanted to beat Italian designer Enzo Ferrari. He had previously done so as a driver with the Aston Martin, winning the FIA World Sportscar Championship in 1959. By 1963 Shelby had hung up his racing gear but wished to win as a constructor, and with an American Car that he created. With designer Pete Brock, hired to shape the car for maximum speed the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe was born. Two years later in 1965 Shelby took first place at the FIA – the first American to do so.

 

After years of events surrounding the car such as surviving a fire while refueling in Daytona 1964 and setting 23 national and international speed records it ended up in the hands of music producer Phil Spector. Spector chose to use the vehicle as a cruiser but wound up getting an extraordinary amount of speeding tickets, eventually being suggested by his lawyer to get rid of it. In light of this Spector decided to sell the prototype to his bodyguard, George Band, for $1000. Brand then gave the car to his daughter, Donna O’Hara, who then decided to hide it away in a California storage unit, where it remained for over 30 years.

 

Interest over time mounted around the car and O’Hara received multiple offers for it, but she always refused. With the help of a lawyer, Martin Eyears, car collector and retired neurosurgeon Frederick Simeone managed to convince O’Hara to sell him the car, for an unknown amount, but believed to be up around $4 million. In 2008, he founded the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, where the car now sits amount 65 other classic racers. It is unfortunate that a happy story also included a strong downer. After the sale of the car O’Hara willed the proceeds of the sale to her mother and then set herself on fire. This was after the deal had been done.

 

After the owner’s surprising demise a legal battle ensued around the car that lasted for months. When information that the car was discovered and was being sold to a private party, many buyers desperately pleaded to the judge to put it up for public sale. Even Phil Spector tried to reclaim ownership over the car stating he never truly sold the car to his bodyguard but simply loaned it to him for safekeeping. In the end the judge concluded that the Daytona Coupe prototype had already been sold legitimately to Simeone.

 

It’s hard to put a price on the car today, almost 15 years after the sale. The other five Daytonas – produced in Italy – are already in the hands of private collectors with one sold in 2009 for $7.5 million. It is safe to assume that Shelby’s first prototype would get significantly more due to it being the originator, the last to be in competition, and still in its original state with no replaced parts or repainting. Not too bad for a car sitting inside a storage unit for over 30 years.

Ranking The Top 25 Crazy Finds In Storage Lockers On Storage Wars

storage facility

Storage Wars the hit A&E Network reality show about a group of professional buyers and bidders going to storage facilities to buy units that have been left by their owners. The laws differ from state to state, in California the filming location for the TV series, the law states that storage units can be auctioned off for bidders if the owner has not paid after three months.

There have been times over the years where the legitimacy of Storage Wars finds have been called into question such as when one of the main bidders, Dave Hester, was caught in a lawsuit claiming he had planted items within the lockers to increase the excitement of the show.

Regardless of the validity of the finds, they do make for great television, certainly with the assortment of crazy things they have come across over 12 seasons. Ranging from the bizarre and fantastic to the outlandish and peculiar, screenrant ranks their top 25 items found on Storage Wars. Below we pick out a few of our favorites.

 

  1. The Elvis Collection
    Newspaper clippings long ago had a lot of value, but today most get their news and information online the value of these clippings have fallen greatly. However, specific newspapers that cover various moments in history can still be quite valuable. Dave Hester wound up bidding on a unit that unknowing to him, included tons of newspaper clippings from the day Elvis Presley died. With the clippings and assortment of Elvis memorabilia and collectibles, the unit was valued to be worth around $90,000. One of the largest finds on the show to date.
  2. World War II Minesweeper
    After a long bidding war between Dave and Ivy in the boiling heat of Southern California, Dave walked away with a fully packed unit using a high bid of $1500. What at first, felt like a bit of a loss bidding so much for a unit ended up being a huge victory when an old army container and the helmet was found in the unit. Upon further inspection of the items, it was determined they had uncovered an old World War II Minesweeper valued at almost $4,400.
  3. Human Skeleton
    On the spookier side of things, Dave Hester as going through a locker uncovered a collection of human bones, skull included. Given the circumstances and for his sake, he brought in an expert to determine whether or not the skeleton was real or not. They were determined to be real but not in a malicious way. The human skeleton was used for medical schools for students to study. The expert was able to determine this by the professional cleaning and nylon strings used to hold the bones together. All in all the skeleton was found to be worth over $1500.
  4. Whale In A Jar
    For a time on the show, Darrell decided with his son Brandon to go off on their own so he could teach his son the ropes of playing the storage hunting game. Unfortunately, Brandon still walked away with many dud units. One find though was quite significant and oddly strange. When picking through a unit he came upon a jar that he could only claim as “whale stuff”. Even experts after the find became baffled by how such an item would end up in a storage unit.
  5. Frank Gutierrez Artwork Collection
    Artwork is not a surprise to find when it comes to storage units. In fact, it is one of the most common items found in abandoned units, but one unit full of it ended up being one of the greatest finds in the show. Valued at over $300,000, it was as if the unit itself had been abandoned by Frank Gutierrez. Containing several pieces from the artist, we are left with many questions. How did the owner attain this artwork and why would they let it go?

Halloween Spooky Storage Unit Finds

human skull found in auction

This Halloween, beware the spooky storage unit… or bid on it, if you dare. (Cue evil laughter and haunted house screams.)

Here’s a story prompt– imagine you win an auction. You’re sorting through the contents of a locker, and you come across a white paper bag. What could be inside?

Here’s a story from real life, stranger than fiction.

A man in Washington State recently won a storage unit for $1,200, and it really was a win. He estimates the contents to be worth $30k. Among the myriad items: knives, guns, handcuffs, and a white paper bag containing a human skull. (Cue thunder and lightning.)

Okay, gross. Naturally, he called the police and reported the find. It was the grisliest item, but not the only shady item. He also turned in birth certificates, vehicle titles, and a locked box containing a property deed.

The police are investigated the skull. It didn’t seem to be linked to any open cases. Hopefully, they’ll find out where it came from and bring peace to the departed soul. Meanwhile, in the land of the living, John Norris now owns valuable antiques, memorabilia, jewelry, and more. He also has quite the story to tell: the tale of a lucrative bid with an element of ominous mystery.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever found in a storage unit? Share your story in the comments, and happy haunting – uh, that is, happy hunting!

Comment below!

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?

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.

Terrible is the New Valuable: VHS Edition

vhs

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!

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

navy miller

What do you do when you find a priceless item in someone’s old storage unit? Thanks to digital technology, it’s easier than ever to track down previous tenants and reach out to return sentimental treasures. That’s what happened with Alex Miller, who wrote a delightful account of how his father’s art returned to him.

Miller’s father has produced artwork throughout his life, including a well-known painting of a father and child. He remembers losing the artwork left in the storage unit due to delinquent payments, and in Miller’s retelling, he didn’t seem to like being reminded of his loss.

Read More: Garbage Bag Units

Fortunately, the storage auction winners reached out to Miller. Karie Farman identified the artist based on an article Miller had written. As of this writing, Farman and Miller’s father are discussing the return of their items.

Meanwhile, Miller set his heart on one piece in particular: an unfinished drawing of him at 18 in his Navy dress uniform. Because of the irreplaceable and invaluable nature of the item, Farman offered to return it for free. Miller insisted on compensating her, and he now owns the portrait his father started years ago.

For storage unit buyers, this success story inspires us to return items that families may never have wanted to part with. In Farman’s case, it wasn’t about money, but about doing the right thing. She labored on her own time to investigate the source of the artwork and ultimately received an undisclosed amount of money.

Have you ever returned items of sentimental value to their former owners? Share your stories in the comments, and be sure to check out the story on Quartz, because Miller tells it wonderfully: My father drew a portrait of me a decade ago. I just bought it back from a stranger on Facebook.