Hobbies That Turned Into Storage Unit Treasures — For Someone Else That Is
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In recent years, shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters have popularized storage unit auctions all over the U.S. While many question the validity of these shows, one thing has become clear: storage units sometimes do contain jackpots. How does this happen? Well, I wrote a post earlier about how hobbyists can safely store their stuff. Assuming I'm not the only one thinking of this, presumably somebody somewhere is going to forget they've put valuable stuff into storage! Here's a sampling of things that others have found.
Gold and Silver
Around November 2011, a man disclosed only as "John" to the media found gold and silver valued at around $500,000 in a San Jose, California storage unit that he purchased for only $1,100. The unit went up for auction after an elderly woman passed away leaving behind a Rubbermaid container full of treasure, Laura Dotson of American Auctioneers told ABC News. Moreover, while it may be hearsay, the websiteStorageAuctionCentral.com claims to have received correspondence linking the gold to a self-professed "hacker" named "Daniel David Rigmaiden," who is currently facing "federal charges of fraud and identity theft." If this claim is true, then one really must wonder how an elderly woman managed to find herself in possession of the treasure.
A Comic Book
TruTV.com and HollywoodReporter.com trace a find from April 2011 back to actor Nicolas Cage, whose original copy of Action Comics #1 was stolen more than 10 years earlier. A storage hunter in San Fernando Valley, California reportedly contacted the same comic book expert that Cage had bought the copy from to determine its value. No one knows how the comic book ended up in the storage unit. It is also unclear whether the hunter collected any sort of reward for returning the comic, but it has since been sold for more than $2 million.
A member of StorageAuctionForums.com with the handle "TN_Hunter" has reported buying a unit for $535 in January 2012 that has already netted him a profit of $1,676. He expects to make between $7,000 and $10,000 on the contents, which include Fisher Price and Playskool toys from the 1960s and 1970s that are still in their original packages. The Tennessee resident advises new hunters to be prepared to sell their finds or else “hope [they] all have understanding spouses in the interim.” The history of the unit is unclear, but TN_Hunter has stated that the large unit was his first big storage auction purchase.
"Hunter" on StorageAuctionCentral.com claims to have scored a storage unit on January 8, 2011 for $100 containing a collection of 1950s baseball cards and memorabilia, including "autographed photos of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and a few others." Sports cards are not the first thing people think of anymore when it comes to making big profits. Cards need to be old and rare to be valuable; in the 1980s, sports cards were so mass-produced that they lost their appeal to most collectors. Still, there is money to be made from the right buyers. Hunter writes that he expects to sell several items for upwards of $500 apiece.
According to several news sources, the IRS found $840,000 in a storage unit while conducting a drug investigation in July 2012. While this particular unit did not make it to auction, one can only imagine if it had. For instance, if the owner had not disclosed the unit’s existence, it would have gone into default and eventually to auction. In fact, a member of StorageAuctionForums.com called “drbecker” claims that he once found $4,000 cash in a storage unit he bought for $50.
Are Storage Auctions Profitable?
While there are uncountable accounts of people buying storage units full of useless junk, there are also a lot of instances in which people have tripled or quadrupled their initial investment. In reality, the chances of striking it rich are miniscule; however, a skilled buyer does have a good chance of breaking even or even turning a small profit.