4 Garage Sale Finds That Were Worth Way More Than Youll Ever Believe

4 Garage Sale Finds That Were Worth Way More Than Youll Ever Believe

4 Garage Sale Finds That Were Worth Way More Than You'll Ever Believe

By  | Aug 25, 2017

Garage sales are pretty much the only institutions in America where one person's trash truly is another one's treasure. They're perfect for lightening your load before a move on the one hand, or, if you've just settled in, acquiring new stuff for a mere fraction of the original price.

And most of the stuff you'll come across is, admittedly, pretty junky. But once in a while, you'll find something special. Only just how special those unicorns hiding in someone's driveway garage sale could turn out to be might astonish you.

As proof, check out these four amazing garage sale finds that ended up being worth way more than their purchasers originally guessed. If these don't convince you to think twice about pawing through other people's refuse (or holding onto what you've got if you suspect it's worth something), we don't know what will.

The Declaration of Independence

In 2007, Michael Sparks of Tennessee picked up what he assumed was a cheap replica of the Declaration of Independence alongside salt and pepper shakers for a grand total of $2.48. Yet according to NBC News, Sparks soon realized that his Declaration "replica" was not your average cheap knockoff. In fact, it was an official knockoff!

Turns out in 1820, Congress ordered 200 reproductions of the Declaration from William J. Stone, who reportedly spent two years creating them by some means that is still mysterious (most likely some form of tracing). While only 35 were believed to be still in existence, Sparks uncovered No. 36. Its worth? $477,650.

It looks like a gift shop souvenir but it's worth almost half a million dollars.
It looks like a gift shop souvenir, but it's worth almost half a million dollars.

A rare record from the Velvet Underground

Combing through vintage vinyl at a sidewalk sale on the streets of Manhattan in 2002, record shop owner Warren Hill stumbled across a true rarity: a studio record of the Velvet Underground's unreleased early versions of songs, which would eventually find themselves on "The Velvet Underground & Nico"—the band's groundbreaking debut album.

The backstory: Back in 1966, artist and music enthusiast Andy Warholtried to sign this band himself by recording them at Norman Dolph's studio in Chelsea. When they ended up signing a label without Warhol's help, this recording fell into obscurity—that is, until Hill bought it for 75 cents.

In 2006, after a flurry of publicity, Hill sold the record on eBay for $25,200 to an anonymous bidder, who admits that he immediately stashed it in a safe without listening to it.

"It wasn’t worth it to me to even handle the record, let alone drag a needle across it," he told Rolling Stone. "This is not a conventional record that can be played thousands and thousands of times. It’s an acetate"—a type of record that deteriorates with each use. Luckily, Hill had played it once, and created a digital copy, which was eventually included in a 45th anniversary four-box set so the rest of us can listen in, too.

Sweet find! This records contains previously considered "lost" versions of "Venus in Furs," "I'm Waiting for the Man," and more.
This record contains previously "lost" versions of songs by the Velvet Underground.


A diamond wedding ring

Eric Cloutier thought he was doing a good decluttering when he donated some items to a California community garage sale in 2013. Just one problem: One of the boxes he'd given away contained his wife's $23,000 diamond wedding ring—which ended up selling, box included, for a mere $10.

Upon finding out what her husband had done, "I immediately started crying," Racquel Cloutier confessed to ABC News in an effort to publicize the loss of her ring, hoping the mystery buyer would step forward. And as luck would have it, she did: Alyssa Lossau, seeing the news footage, contacted Racquel to reunite her with her ring (and, we hope, unleash Eric from his dog house).

wedding ring
wedding ring

Bought for $23,000, sold at a garage sale for $10

A drawing believed to be by 10-year-old Andy Warhol

The jury is still out on the value of this item, but it's quite a story: When Andy Fields stopped by a Las Vegas garage sale in 2010, he picked up a child's pencil sketch for $5. Some might have thought he overpaid for something any kid worth his Crayolas could turn out. But no, Fields has found evidence that the artist behind this piece was (hello again) Andy Warhol. At the wee age of 10!

"I only realized the drawing was done by Andy Warhol when I was framing the drawing in my home and saw the signature," Fields told ABC News.

Fields took the sketch to Las Vegas-based fine art appraiser Brett Maly, who believes the sketch (of 1930s singer Rudy Vallée) is authentic—and worth $2.4 million! Fields tracked down the man from whom he bought the drawing, who was surprised but said he'd grown up a few blocks from Warhol and that they used to party together. So, it is entirely possible this was young Warhol's work.

Yet the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board disbanded in 2011 before it could amass sufficient evidence to authenticate this sketch. Weirder still, foundation spokeswoman Nina Djerejian told ABC News,"There is no person or organization that is in any way authorized or recognized by the foundation to authenticate Warhol works."

So, there's still no consensus on the provenance of the sketch, which Fields tried to sell on eBay with no luck.

"Before I found this drawing, the only thing I knew about Andy Warhol was that he coined the term '15 minutes of fame,'" Fields says of the whole experience. "I think I've had more than my fair share."

Andy Fields found what he believes is a sketch by a 10-year-old Andy Warhol.

Jeremy Flax Headshot
Phone: 615-582-0909
Dated: August 26th 2017
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