Storage auctions have grown in popularity, thanks to A&E’s reality television show Storage Wars that follows professional buyers as they look for treasures in abandoned storage units. The auction process typically involves buyers bidding on the contents of a repossessed storage unit based only on a brief visual inspection of the unit from the open doorway. Once a person wins the cash-only auction, the contents are theirs to keep. The objective is to find enough valuable merchandise in the storage unit that they can then resell for a profit.
Many of the Storage Wars episodes feature people discovering big ticket items. But the truth is that bidding on storage units is risky since in most cases, the contents are not that valuable. Every once in a while, however, a lucky bidder will uncover something truly unexpected. Here are five amazing storage auction finds:
1. Historic Presidential Documents
Upon first glance of the storage unit located in Manassas, Virginia, the bidders noticed several antiques. The auction winner paid $27,000 for the contents and found that not only did the storage unit hold antiques, it also housed an incredible collection of historical presidential documents including papers singed by presidents, letters written during the Civil War, and even Harry Truman’s cane. The contents were valued at almost $100,000.
2. Maven Huffman’s WWE Trophy
Ex-wrestler Maven Huffman won a gold trophy (and a contract with Vince McMahon) when he won the WWE reality show Tough Enough in 2001. Unfortunately his career took a downturn when he was arrested for “doctor shopping” for the prescription painkillers Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. Huffman had stored his Tough Enough trophy in a Virginia storage unit and stopped paying for the unit. The unit went up for auction and the winning bidder, who paid $100 for the contents, discovered the trophy. The buyer attempted to contact Huffman to return the trophy, but never heard back from him. The trophy was then sold on eBay to a very happy wrestling fan for $600.
3. Malcolm X Documents
A Connecticut storage unit that belonged to the late musician Malcolm “Shorty” Jarvis was auctioned off and found to be housing almost 1,000 items pertaining to the crime that landed Jarvis and the civil rights leader Malcolm X in prison in the 1940s. Contents included a document of the 1946 sentencing of the two men, a letter of pardon for Jarvis from the state of Massachusetts, and a 72-page scrapbook of Malcolm X’s life. The buyer, who had no idea what he was bidding on when he purchased the contents, contacted the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation. The Foundation contacted the curator of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum which now houses the collection.
4. A Goldmine
A buyer paid $1,100 for the contents of a storage unit in California and discovered a plastic Rubbermaid “treasure chest” filled with rare coins dating from before the 19th century, as well as gold and silver bars. The container filled with the coins is said to have been so heavy, three people were needed to move it. The entire contents are believed to have been worth $500,000.
5. A Classic Car
When bidders looked inside the Austin storage unit up for auction, no one could tell what was underneath the dirty tarp. Pat Jones, with an uncontested $51 bid, had assumed it was scrap metal. When he removed the tarp and started looking at what he had won, he found that he had an entire ’59 Cadillac Coupe in over 500 separate parts. A restored car is valued at over $50,000.
Are you hoping to be the next big winner? Find a list of upcoming auctions near you by visiting http://www.storagetreasures.com/ and keep your fingers crossed!