The most valuable items in the world typically end up either proudly displayed in museums, in the entryways of grand buildings, or locked up tight in hard-to-crack safes. After all, people want to protect and show off what’s most valuable! But not all of these items end up on a pedestal. In fact, some incredibly valuable items end up in the most worn-down places.
Whether the owner didn’t understand the true value of the item, misplaced it by mistake, or passed away without retrieving it, these 20 insanely valuable artifacts and objects somehow landed in abandoned buildings or bizarre hiding spots—and whoever found them cashed in big!
1. Rolls of cash ($6,800): During a snowstorm, an urban explorer entered a home that had been abandoned 30 years prior undetected. He found decades-old photographs; retro trinkets; and $6,800 in rolled-up cash, which he was kind enough to return to the home’s previous owner.
2. Ancient Mayan artifacts ($16,500): Nick DiMola (left) of Queens, New York, was hired to clear clutter from a deceased artist’s apartment in Manhattan. There, in a scuffed cardboard barrel, he found a Mayan artifact valued at $16,500! Makes you inspired to tidy up your attic, huh?
NY Daily News
3. U.S. savings bonds ($22,000): A recycling center worker named Mike Rogers found $22,000 in savings bonds at the bottom of a scrap metal barrel. Thankfully, he and his wife returned them to their rightful owner. “It was only the right thing to do,” he told ABC News.
4. 1922 Rolls-Royce Goshawk prototype (about $33,000): Amazingly enough, the world’s oldest Rolls-Royce was just gathering dust in a barn until 2015. With its 20-horsepower engine, the unique prototype originally logged 20,000 miles before being retired in 1925.
5. An important laptop: In 2011, an unsecured laptop found in a dumpster revealed compromising emails sent by former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre. It helped the SEC win a lawsuit against the “face of mortgage-securities fraud.” You can’t put a price on justice!
CBS News / YouTube
6. Original Cracker Jack baseball poster ($61,000): These posters hung on the walls of almost every candy and drug store in the 20th century. A Wisconsin police officer found one in a barn on his property and sold it to the Mile High Card Company!
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7. Coins, silver, and jewels (estimated thousands): When a Reddit user discovered a locked safe hidden in the closet of his deceased grandparents’ Tennessee farmhouse, he hit the jackpot. It contained jewels, rare coins, and silver bars!
8. Action Comics No. 1 ($175,000): During a home renovation, contractor David Gonzalez found an issue of this iconic comic, which featured the debut of Superman, inside the walls of a Minnesotan home. The back cover had been ripped off, so it only a fetched a portion of its true value.
9. Pablo Escobar’s safe: Christian de Berdouare purchased the late drug lord’s Miami mansion and found this safe buried in rubble. De Berdouare speculated that it had gold or diamonds inside; however, he still hasn’t opened it.
NY Daily News
10. Century-old coins ($200,000): For 20 years, a home sat unoccupied in Pennsylvania until the former homeowner’s daughter hired appraiser Jeff Bidelman to comb through it for valuables. He found coins dating from 1793 through 1964 stuffed into a hole in a wall.
11. Original Frankenstein 1931 movie poster ($358,500): Tucked away in a boarded-up projection booth of an abandoned Long Island movie theater, Steve Wilkin uncovered this vintage poster. It was “a true piece of Hollywood history,” as the poster’s buyer dubbed it.
12. Bronze Age sword: “We never thought it to be that important to be honest,” Maurice Owens said of the ancient sword he found in an old family barn. But an archeologist disagreed, believing it was owned by someone at “a high level in society” 2,600 years ago!
13. Gold and silver caché ($500,000): A man from San Jose, California, bought an abandoned storage unit for $1,100. Inside, he found a blue Rubbermaid container stuffed with a half-million dollars’ worth of rare coins and gold and silver bars.
14. Tres Personajes by Rufino Tamayo ($1 million): On her morning walk through Manhattan, Elizabeth Gibson saw a painting discarded on the curb. She took it home and discovered it was a famous masterpiece! It sold at Sotheby’s Latin American Art sale for a million bucks.
15. Winning lottery ticket ($1 million): Eighty-three-year-old Edward St. John regularly dug through the local convenience store’s trash looking for discarded lotto tickets, and in 2005, it paid off. He found a “Hold’em Poker” scratch-off ticket worth $1,000,000!
Michigan Lottery / YouTube
16. Edmé Bouchardon’s Sir John Gordon bust ($1.8 million): While the impressive bust of the Scottish Member of Parliament now rests proudly in the Louvre, officials originally discovered it propping open the door to an industrial estate in 1998.
17. 1980s and 1990s MLB, NHL, and NASCAR cards (estimated millions): Urban explorers scouting an abandoned Detroit warehouse discovered crates packed with old Topps cards. While they found no individually valuable card, the whole lot was worth millions.
18. Unreleased Jackson 5 tracks (estimated millions): When Howard Mann blindly bought contents from a memorabilia-stuffed warehouse, he inadvertently obtained 273 unreleased Jackson 5 songs. However, the find landed him in a legal battle over the rights to the music.
ABC Television / Wikimedia
19. Nicholas Cage’s Action Comics No. 1 ($2.16 million): Cage’s copy of this insanely valuable comic was stolen from his house in 2000 only to turn up in an abandoned storage unit a decade later. His pristine copy was the first comic ever to sell for over $2 million.
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20. Portrait of Marthe de Florian by Giovanni Boldini ($2.5 million): The painting of this French courtesan surfaced 71 years after her death in 2010. In all those years, it had never left the quaint Paris apartment the subject had passed on to her granddaughter.
It seems like riches really can hide just about anywhere. Sounds like a great reason to check out any abandoned homes on your block, no?
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