Shocking Hidden Treasures Found in Newly Purchased Properties
Picture this: You buy a home that you plan to flip to make a tidy profit. When you visit the property to see what work needs to be done, you decide to take a little tour around your new purchase. You check all of the nooks and crannies, hoping to find some hidden treasures that will bring you a much higher profit than flipping or renting out the house.
Your chances may be one in a million, but it is possible to uncover the find of a lifetime. Keep reading for a few stories about people who got insanely lucky with their new homes.
In 2016, a Frenchman inherited a house in Evreux, Normandy from one of his relatives. He decided to move in and soon found that he had inherited more than just a home.
After inspecting the house, the man realized that it was filled with gold coins, ingots, and bars. He found the riches hidden in furniture and even a whiskey bottle! The total value of the 100kg of gold reached €3.5 million ($4.1m/£3.1m) at auction sale.
A Lucky Save
When Thomas Schultz and his partner Laurence Joseph decided to buy a cottage in New York for $300,000 (£235k), they became the beneficiaries of the previous owner’s artwork. The Armenian artist Arthur Pinajian had asked for the artwork to be dumped at a landfill, but Schultz just couldn’t throw away Pinajian’s life work.
He began organizing the collection of over 70,000 paintings. After collating the collection, interest in the abstract impressionist’s paintings grew. The collection of Arthur Pinajian paintings was valued at an incredible $30 million (£23.6m), making Schultz a multi-millionaire.
The Wall That Held a Secret
Cartoonist Don Trachte’s sons were renovating their late father’s property in 2005 when they were shocked to find paintings concealed behind one of the walls. The hidden painting Breaking Home Ties was by their father’s friend and neighbor, the famous artist Norman Rockwell.
Trachte’s sons concluded that their cartoonist father had painted copies of the original painting to prevent their mother from obtaining it during their bitter divorce. In 2006, the sons sold the original of Norman Rockwell’s Breaking Home Ties for $15.4 million (£12m), a record for the artist’s work at the time.
So Close, Yet So Far
In Roanne, France, a couple made an unexpected discovery in their yard seven years after moving in. They found six gold bars in 2009, followed by another 22 in 2013 — the bars had an estimated value of $942,168 (£738k) altogether. However, despite legally declaring the finds, the couple underwent a criminal investigation when they sold 23 of the bars.
The previous house owners ended up suing the couple over ownership of the gold bullion. They won, which meant that the couple had to hand over the remaining bars and reimburse them for the bars they had already sold! Talk about a tough break.
Laugh a Minute in the Basement
Michael Rorrer was clearing out his late great aunt’s home in Virginia when he came across a collection of 345 comics in the basement. The collection belonged to his late uncle, Billy Wright, who had never told anyone about his hobby.
The comic book collection included rare comics such as Detective Comics #27, the first comic to star Batman, as well as the first comic that featured Superman. Rorrer’s find amazed the comic book world, and the rare collection of magazines fetched a whopping $3.5 million (£2.7m) at auction in 2012.
A Well-Traveled Gold Stash
In 2007, a Hackney property’s owners decided to dig up a frog pond in the garden. A few weeks into the project, they discovered a glass jar filled with 80 gold coins! The jar contained US double eagle gold coins, leaving the residents to wonder how the coins had found their way to a frog pond in East London.
The find was donated to the Museum of London. Researchers deduced that the coins belonged to the German-Jewish refugee Martin Sulzbacher. The story goes that, fearing a Nazi invasion, Sulzbacher’s brother buried the coins in his back garden in 1940 and told only his direct family members where they were located. Many of Sulzbacher’s relatives were killed not long after during a bombing raid, and the location of the stash died with them. The museum has since found the owner’s descendants and handed over the $132,000 (£108k) find.
Roman Riches in a Pond
Remarkably, a similar occurrence took place in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire. In March 2004, Ken Allen was digging a pond in his garden when he found a pile of coins sitting in a broken piece of pottery. The hoard contained 11,460 Roman copper alloy coins, which experts said are from between 260 and 348 AD. Allen reported the find, and the local coroner declared the hoard a treasure, valuing it at $51,000 (£40k).
Super Car in the Doctor’s Garage
When collector Dr. Harold Carr died in 2009, he left his house in Newcastle, England to his relatives. It was in the garage that his habit for collecting really paid off; inside was a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S, which had originally been owned by Earl Howe.
Dr. Carr had bought the car for $1,143 (£895) in 1955, the equivalent of $29,125 (£22,806) today. Over 50 years later, Dr. Carr’s relatives sold the car for a whopping $3.8 million (£2.9m). The family had no idea what Dr. Carr was keeping in his garage, but we can’t imagine they were unhappy about the surprise. They said, “It was a bit of local folklore that he had a Bugatti, but no one knew for sure. It’s worth so much because he hadn’t used it for over fifty years. It was one of the original super cars.”
A Luxury Home with Culture
In 2010, architect Todd Ernst was renovating an 8,000-square-foot apartment in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York. During the renovations, he discovered an original Keith Haring mural behind one of the walls. Haring’s unmistakable black doodle-like squiggles are now incorporated into the décor.
The American Thread Co. building where the mural was discovered has an artistic past; it regularly held exhibitions with the School of Visual Arts, where Keith Haring was a student. If this apartment sounds like your dream home, you’re out of luck. Along with its original art, it sold for $10 million (£7.8m) in January 2015.
Italian Masterpiece in the Roof
In 2014, a 400-year-old painting, believed to be by the Italian master Caravaggio, was discovered in the roof of a house in Toulouse. However, the identification of the painting as Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio is contested. It was exhibited in the Brera Art Gallery in Milan in 2016, but there was outrage at it being named as a Caravaggio when art experts had not universally agreed. If the painting is a Caravaggio, it has a value of $113 million (£88.5m).
A Buried Pot o’ Gold
In February 2013, a couple from Northern California discovered a pot of rare gold coins buried under a tree in their back garden. The haul included 1,427 mint-condition gold coins, dating from 1847 to 1894. The pot, which had been hidden away during the nineteenth-century Gold Rush, had an estimated value of $10 million (£7.8m) — although almost half of that value would go to the tax man.
Unfortunately, these situations aren’t always a case of finders keepers. US treasure trove laws allow treasure to be claimed by descendants of the person who originally buried it. For this reason, the couple remained anonymous and sold the coins via Amazon.
Treasure May Be Waiting for You
Do these stories have you itching to purchase a new property? We know how you feel.
When you buy a house at a foreclosure auction, remember to drain the pond, check the garage, look behind the walls, investigate the basement, and check the roof beams. You just may end up one of the lucky few.