Biggest 'Storage Wars' Finds That Were Really Valuable
Most of us are familiar with storage lockers. They’re the places people rent by the month or year to store all the stuff they can't (or don't want to) keep in their homes. For various reasons, people sometimes stop paying the rent on their storage locker. They may die or simply abandon the items.
Sometimes, the stuff stored in these lockers turns out to be valuable. For many years, storage companies have held auctions to sell off the contents of abandoned lockers and people have made some surprising and lucrative finds: pirate gold, vintage comics, rock and roll memorabilia, valuable artwork and much more.
In 2010, a reality TV show called "Storage Wars" premiered on the A&E Network. The show focused on the lively and entertaining storage auctions and the professional buyers, often secondhand store owners, who bid at them. The show quickly became one of the network’s most popular.
The show has run for 14 seasons and is still going. These are the biggest "Storage Wars" finds that lucky bidders from the show's auctions won over the years.
25. My Little Pony
Whether Storage Wars is real or faked, audiences could not get enough stories of hidden riches just waiting to be discovered in abandoned storage lockers.
Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schulz are a young couple who, on the first season of "Storage Wars," were just starting out in the auction business.
Passante and Schulz paid $50 for one of their first auction wins. The locker contained one of the largest collections of My Little Pony collectibles ever seen, later valued at $1,000.
What the Internet Thinks About My Little Pony
24. Antique Candlemaker
Mary Padian, also known as the "Junkster," was a regular bidder on one of the "Storage Wars" spin-off shows, "Storage Wars: Texas."
Padian and her business partner won a locker that held an antique candlemaker — a mold for making dozens of candles.
Padian’s partner wanted to sell it for $50, but Padian took the item to a candle shop where it was valued at $1,400.
What the Internet Thinks About the Antique Candlemaker
23. Original Ship's Steering Wheel
Ivy Calvin joined the cast of "Storage Wars" in the third season. He’s the owner of a resale shop called Grandma’s Attic.
He won the auction for a locker that, at first, appeared to contain just old bedding and a mattress, but tucked away behind the mattress, Calvin found an original ship’s huge steering wheel.
He took his find to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, where it was valued at $1,500.
What the Internet Thinks About the Original Ship's Steering Wheel
22. Japanese Version of Mario Brothers Board Game
Darrell Sheets, a regular on "Storage Wars," was nicknamed The Gambler for his large bids that seemed like gambles, but often paid off.
He paid $950 for a locker that held garden and fishing gear and homewares. Inside a box, Sheets found a Japanese version of the Mario Brothers board game, as well as a vintage vinyl Nintendo case filled with collectible Mario Brother’s dioramas.
The board game and the dioramas alone were worth $1,700.
What the Internet Thinks About the Japanese Version of Mario Brothers Board Game
21. Stereo Equipment and Records
Darrell Sheets (aka "The Gambler") paid $2,100 for a storage locker full of old 1970s stereo equipment and records.
There were collectible records, a Thorens turntable and Bozak speakers. The speakers and turntable alone were valued at $1,800.
No value was given for the vinyl records.
What the Internet Thinks About the Stereo Equipment and Records
20. Motorcycle Racing Suit With Body Armor
Ivy Calvin paid $300 for a locker that was literally overflowing with stuff, mostly in black plastic garbage bags. Most of the stuff was junk, and Calvin was forced to haul it to the dump.
However, in amongst the bags, he found a woman’s professional leather motorcycle racing suit with body armor.
A local women’s motorcycle club valued the suit at $2,500.
What the Internet Thinks About the Motorcycle Racing Suit With Body Armor
19. Movie Spotlight/Floodlight
Ivy Calvin, in partnership with Mary Padian (aka "The Junkster"), bought a locker for $110.
Inside the locker, they found a vintage Fresnel movie spotlight/floodlight, made in 1936 and still in good working order.
The light was valued at around $2,500.
What the Internet Thinks About the Movie Spotlight/Floodlight
18. Bactrian Camel Saddles
During the show’s eighth season, Mary Padian (aka "The Junkster") won the auction for a storage locker containing two wood and leather contraptions.
They turned out to be Bactrian (double hump) camel saddles, possibly dating to the 18th century.
The pair of saddles were valued at $3,000.
What the Internet Thinks About Bactrian Camel Saddles
17. 'Star Trek' Prop Replicas
Couple Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schulz paid $230 for a mostly empty locker containing seven cardboard boxes. However, in one box, the couple found official "Star Trek" prop replicas phaser and communicator — complete with certificates.
The items even came with an autograph of William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on the original 1960s series.
The set was valued at $4,000.
What the Internet Thinks About 'Star Trek' Prop Replicas
16. Screen Printing
Couple Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schulz paid $2,850 for a storage unit full of boxes.
As they examined the boxes, they realized that they had found everything needed to run a screen-printing business — screens, press, flash and exposure unit.
The equipment was valued at $5,000.
What the Internet Thinks About Screen Printing
15. Unusual Wooden Statue
Barry Weiss, known on the show as "The Collector," made one of the most unusual finds on "Storage Wars." He had a quick look around a locker that was being auctioned and paid $1,525 to win the bidding.
What the other bidders didn’t know is that Weiss had spotted an unusual wooden statue in the back of the locker that he felt might be valuable. He was right. The statue of a head, made with glass eyes and real dentures, was valued at $6,000.
Weiss, true to his nickname, decided to keep the piece rather than sell it.
What the Internet Thinks About the Unusual Wooden Statue
14. Peep Show Machine
In one episode of "Storage Wars," Barry Weiss (aka "The Collector") won an auction for a locker that contained an antique peep show machine.
This was a hand-cranked wheel that worked like a flipbook, allowing a viewer to rapidly see images on cards that were spun around in a circle.
The machine was later valued at $7,000.
What the Internet Thinks About the Peep Show Machine
13. Spare Car and Motorcycle Parts
In Season Four of "Storage Wars," Barry Weiss (aka "The Collector") spent $1,700 on a storage locker filled with spare car and motorcycle parts, including 30 complete motorcycle engines.
Weiss is a classic car and vintage motorcycle collector so was able to recognize the value of the parts.
He was able to sell the lot later for a $10,000 profit.
What the Internet Thinks About Spare Car and Motorcycle Parts
12. Model Piano
Barry Weiss (aka "The Collector") is a retired antique dealer.
On the show’s first season, he won the auction for a unit that appeared to be full of vintage salon equipment.
However, once Weiss explored the unit, he found a 1929 Marshall and Wendell model piano inside, valued between $10,000 and $12,000.
What the Internet Thinks About the Model Piano
11. Indian and Asian Artifacts, Antique and Vintage Furniture
Darrell Sheets (aka "The Gambler") bought the contents of a locker full of Indian and Asian artifacts, antique and vintage furniture for $2,800.
He took the Queen Anne chairs to an antique dealer who valued them at $7,000, putting Sheet’s profit from the locker at around $12,000.
What the Internet Thinks About the Indian and Asian Artifacts, Antique and Vintage Furniture
10. Classic Toy Collection
In the first season of "Storage Wars," couple Brandi Passante and Jarrod Schulz got very lucky on one particular locker.
Another competitor had bid against them, pushing the price up to $1,700.
However, when the couple examined the contents, they found a classic toy collection that they later sold for $12,800.
What the Internet Thinks About the Classic Toy Collection
9. Faceless Bills Worth $24,000
One anonymous bidder on the show paid $400 for a locker that seemed to be full of junk. Among the stuff was an old trunk, and when the new owners opened it, they found cash worth $24,000.
The only catch was that every single bill had the face cut out. However, the notes are still considered legal tender and could be replaced by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for their full face value.
What the Internet Thinks About Faceless Bills Worth $24,000
8. Old Vending Machines
In the second season of "Storage Wars," Dave Hester bought the contents of a locker that was full of old vending machines.
Hester had seen some newer machines at the back of the locker and thought they might be valuable. He won the auction for $1,300.
As Hester suspected, there were some vending machines in good condition, some broken — but some were new. In the end, his win was worth $27,000.
What the Internet Thinks About Old Vending Machines
7. The Antiques Cache
Rene Nezhoda, had a big win on the sixth season of "Storage Wars."
He won the bidding on the locker that was packed full of antiques: Asian statues, screens and ceramics, valuable silver and crystal, a Grandfather clock and an oil painting that had been appraised at $8,000.
The entire contents of the locker were worth more than $50,000.
What the Internet Thinks About the Antiques Cache
6. Vintage Video Games
On the 10th season of "Storage Wars," regular bidder Rene Nezhoda won an auction for a locker full of rare, vintage video games, paying $1,500.
The unit was filled with cardboard boxes and plastic Rubbermaid tubs. Nezhoda later emptied the unit with the help of a video game expert Phillip Braden, a well-known YouTube gamer.
Between the two of them, they estimated the entire haul to be worth more than $50,000.
What the Internet Thinks About Vintage Video Games
5. Elvis Presley Newspapers
One of the "Storage Wars" regulars, Dave Hester, won an auction for a storage locker that first appeared to be full of just old newspapers and magazines.
When Hester looked closely at the periodicals, he realized that all of them were from the same date: Aug. 16, 1977. This was the day that Elvis Presley died.
As the date was of historic significance — particularly to Elvis fans — the collection turned out to be valuable, to the tune of $90,000.
What the Internet Thinks About Elvis Presley Newspapers
4. The Art Collection
On the third season of "Storage Wars," Darrell Sheets (aka "The Gambler") bid $3,600 for a locker that turned out to be full of drawings, paintings and decorated objects made by the artist Frank Gutierrez. There were more than 300 items in total.
An art expert appraised the entire collection at around $300,000.
However, this valuation has been disputed.
What the Internet Thinks About the Art Collection
3. Old Toys and Comics
In the third season of "Storage Wars," Darrell Sheets (aka "The Gambler") won an auction for a locker that turned out to be full of collectible toys and comics. Sheets called it his "Holy Grail."
The collection — which may have been the inventory of a comic book shop — contained valuable GI Joes, Hot Wheel cars and numerous other collectible dolls and toys, as well as 3,000 comic books.
Sheets estimated the total of the entire collection at $90,000.
What the Internet Thinks About Old Toys and Comics
2. Gold Pirate Coins
The last place you’d expect to find pirate treasure is on dry land, in an abandoned storage locker. In 2011, "Storage Wars" hosts auctioned off two lockers to an anonymous buyer for $2,000.
When the buyer opened the lockers, they discovered that one of them contained a heavy box. Inside the box, was a fortune in gold pirate coins — pieces of eight and doubloons — all more than 200 hundred years old.
The coins were valued at $500,000, making this find the second-most lucrative discovery in "Storage Wars" history.
What the Internet Thinks About Gold Pirate Coins
1. $7.5 Million of Cold Hard Cash
The most valuable find on Storage Wars was a cache of cash: $7.5 million dollars hidden inside a locked safe.
The winning buyer of the locker found the safe inside after the auction and took it to a locksmith. When the safe was opened, the new owners were stunned to find a fortune in cash inside.
Shortly afterward, a lawyer contacted the winning couple saying that he represented the original owners and offering a reward for the return of the cash. The new owners eventually settled for a $1.2 million reward in exchange for returning the rest of the cash.
What the Internet Thinks About $7.5 Million of Cold Hard Cash
Bonus: The Beach Boys Papers
Back in the late 2000s, before "Storage Wars" even went on the air, a Florida radio station purchased a storage locker for $300 in an auction. The locker they won, originally rented in the 1970s, contained documents and papers.
The archive turned out to be photos, handwritten lyric sheets, contracts and other material that had once belonged to the popular 1960s band, The Beach Boys.
Remaining band members wanted the papers back. But after a long legal battle, the collection was sold at auction for over six million pounds ($7.8 million dollars).
What the Internet Thinks About The Beach Boys Papers