Cool Old Stuff For Cheap

I’ve said it before but one of my favourite genres of story is “Person acquires cool thing with a lot of value in unexpected way”.
Finding a priceless piece of porcelain at a garage sale, locating an old book at an estate sale, finding a superman #1 comic behind the drywall of your house. Doesn’t matter what it is! I love these stories. Maybe it’s part of the Zoomer fantasy of suddenly having an unexpected windfall of money from nowhere…

This week I have TWO cool stories in this genre.

Story #1: Woman finds 2000 year old roman statue in thrift store

Thrift stores are great aren’t they?

Four years ago, Laura Young, an art collector from Texas, stopped into a goodwill looking for treasure. What she found was a marble bust for the low low price of $35 USD.
Now even if you’re not an art dealer, I think you would agree that buying a 52 pound marble statue for $35 is pretty cool. I would buy that just because it looks interesting on a bookshelf.
Laura suspected the statue might actually be pretty old, so after some investigating and a number of calls to auction houses, they were able to confirm: This statue is roughly 2000 years old. An original Roman piece. They were able to trace this specific statue’s journey too! Turns out our rocky friend here (she named it Dennis Reynolds after the Always Sunny character) once belonged to the king of Bavaria.

The Sculpture was once houses in a museum in the town of Aschaffenburg, Germany. The museum was destroyed by bombing in ww2 by the allies, at which point the bust disappeared. Experts speculate it was probably brought back to the US after being looted by an American Soldier.

Now unfortunately for Laura, due to looting being, y’know, a war crime, she doesn’t have a right to claim ownership of the statue. She was given a finders fee and the bust was given to the San Antonia Museum of Art, where it will be on display until 2023, at which point it will be returned back to Germany.

Story #2: painting acquired in trade for grilled cheese sandwich going to auction for expected $30k

In the 70s, Irene and Tony Demas ran a sandwich shop in Ontario. They had a habit of trading their food for the talent of the assorted local artists, craftspeople, and artisans.

Included in this deal was a painter named John Kinnear. Every day he would get a grilled cheese sandwich from the couple, and in exchange they got a selection of paintings from him and his other artist friends (I’m not sure if the artist friends ever got grilled cheese sandwiches from this deal).

This arrangement netted the couple an original piece from famous Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis. A piece that 50 years later is expected to auction for $35 thousand dollars.

The couple’s been holding it this whole time, but they’re getting old. Irene saying “My husband’s 90 and I don’t think I have another 50 years to hang on to it, the kids are saying, use the money and travel and just enjoy life.”

The moral of the story: Invest in your local artists! You never know who might grow up, die, and become a famous artist (usually in that order unfortunately)

– Robert