The 14 Fortunes Found in Attics

The fortunes found in attics are some of the most fascinating stories.

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Comic Mania

Comic books found in an attic almost seems cliché but when a comic book worth $1.5 million is found, that’s still remarkable. A copy of Action Comics No. 1 that came out in 1938 is considered the “Holy Grail” of comic books and a couple found it when they were preparing their home to be foreclosed on.

They couple had taken out a second mortgage on the house to finance a business that never took off, according to a Daily Mail story.

Check out this collection of duct tape Halloween costumes that include your favorite super heroes.

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Reupholster Dining Chairs
Family Handyman

Dusty Old Chair Sparkles Like a Diamond

A British couple thought they’d picked up a steal of a deal when they purchased a chair at auction for £5. They planned to reupholster it but left it in the attic for the time being. Angela Milner-Brown’s husband, Angus, had taken it upon himself to start reupholstering the chair when he found a diamond ring from 1900, a flower diamond brooch from 1890 and diamond earrings from 1900, according to The Telegraph. Angela believed the chair sat in the attic for the past six years but Angus kept the diamonds a secret for several years before surprising her with them. They both got a surprise when they found out the jewelry and chair were worth around £5,000 together.

Learn how to reupholster a chair the right way and save yourself some bucks, too.

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Star Wars toys

A San Francisco man found some of his childhood toys in his parents’ attic back in 2011. But they weren’t any ordinary toys. They were about 50 first-edition Star Wars toys that netted him about $10,000.

We’re guessing he might be a fan of some of these Star War decor items from another galaxy.

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Sordid Stradivarius

The sordid story of a stolen Stradivarius violin begins in 2014 when Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond got robbed by thieves who used a stun gun to incapacitate him. Thieves ran off with the 300-year-old Stradivarius violin Almond carried with him in a case. The violin, one of roughly 650 left remaining in the world, was worth an estimated $6 million at the time.

Police eventually traced the theft to Salah Salahaydn and Universal Knowledge Allah, who stashed the Stradivarius in the attic of a Milwaukee home. Salahaydn previously tried to sell a stolen $25,000 sculpture back to a gallery in Milwaukee and called the Stradivarius caper his dream theft in a criminal complaint. He received a seven-year sentence and Allah received 42 months for his role.

An attic probably isn’t the best place to store valuables, find the 20 best secret hiding spots in your house for your valuables.

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Found Figurine Fetches Fine Figure

A Russian figurine found in an upstate New York attic sold at an auction for $5.2 million in 2013, according to a New York Daily News article.

It’s a Faberge figurine commissioned by Czar Nicholas II in 1912, one of just 50 in existence. It is the same Faberge name that created the ornate eggs. Discover some unusual Easter egg traditions you’ve never heard of before.

It sat in an attic for nearly 70 years after being originally purchased for $2,250.

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Valuable Vase

A pair of siblings came across a couple of surprises when they started cleaning out their deceased parents’ home in suburban London. Once they found a Chinese vase and later they got the surprise of a lifetime when it sold for $85 million, a record for any Chinese art at auction.

The vase is believed to be from around 1740 during the Qing dynasty and its sale further signaled the growing Chinese art market.

Next time you’re shipping something valuable, reach for a can of expanding foam.

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Auctioneer Abashment

Auctioneer Richard Bromell might have turned a shade of red back in 2015 when he initially valued a painting of Saint Peter thought to be created by a follower of 16th century renaissance artist El Greco at just £300.

The painting was left in an attic the previous eight years by the seller but once it hit the auction, bidding escalated before it sold for £120,000, perhaps because some believe it to be the work of El Greco.

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Van Gone

Leave it to a French ambassador to tell you a Vincent Van Gogh painting hanging in your home isn’t real. According to a family story, that’s what happened to Norwegian industrialist Christian Nicolai Mustad after he purchased Sunset at Montmajour back in 1908. When the French ambassador to Sweden said the work probably wasn’t a real Van Gogh, Mustad threw it in the attic and it wasn’t discovered again until his death in 1970.

The painting’s authenticity languished until an investigation started in 2011 and the Van Gogh Museum declared the work authentic two years later. It was the first major discovery of a Van Gogh work since 1928.

Make your home look like an art gallery with picture and painting hanging techniques that give you a level look every time.

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Plumbing Repair Leads to Rare Find

In 2014 in another French attic a rare Caravaggio painting was discovered behind a locked door in an attic after the owner tried to repair a water leak, according to a New York Times story. The painting is valued at more than $136 million, though some have doubted the authenticity of Judith Beheading Holofernes, the story said.

We can show you how to find and repair water leaks but you’re on your own for finding priceless pieces of art.

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Art in the Attic

Back in 2008 a painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo or also known as Giambattista Tiepolo was discovered in a French chateau and sold at auction in 2008 for £2.8 million, which was about $4.2 million U.S. dollars at the time.

According to an article in the Telegraph, the painting, Portrait of a Lady as Flora, had been hidden by the grandparents of the painting’s owner because of the nudity in the painting. The mid-18th century painting commissioned as part of a series for Empress Elizabeth of Russia had been in the family for more than 2000 years.

Check out some flora that might qualify for art in your backyard.

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Found Money

Some would agree that money found in between couch cushions or while doing the laundry automatically falls under the “finders keepers, losers weepers” clause, but what about money in the ceiling? When Josh Ferrin of Bountiful, Utah went poking around the garage of the new home he’d recently purchased, he came across a “hidey-hole” in the ceiling filled with boxes of rolled up cash. After he and his family spent a few hours counting up the $45,000 worth of loot he decided to return it all to the previous owners. “I’ve got two boys and we teach them to be honest and to do what is right and I knew this was a teachable moment that I would never get back again,” Ferrin told ABC News.

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The Case of the Hidden Drawer

Estate sales can be a lot of fun, especially if you love the thrill of hunting for valuable antiques like Emil Knodell who would frequent weekend sales. He was thrilled to nab an antique chest of drawers from the late 1800s that had a lot of character and history. But when trying to get the unwieldy piece into his truck it sounded like a “slot machine,” Jeffrey Allen, of Premier Estate Sales Network, who was trying to help him, told the Houston Chronicle.

A hidden drawer that looked like it was a part of furniture turned out to be full of bling from Civil War medals to diamond rings. Hitting pay dirt like that may make some people find the nearest auction house, but Knodell was more excited to return the treasure to the family that owned the chest. “I bought the chest of drawers; I didn’t buy (the secret contents),” he told the newspaper. “The deceased man’s family needed to have the opportunity to decide what they wanted to do with the items.”

Hidden drawers are a great hiding place but here’s the ultimate guide to hiding places.

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Unsinkable Note

Gary Whyte of Mountainside, New Jersey was cleaning out his mother’s house after she died when he came across what looked like some old newspapers she’d stashed away.

“I found a large envelope with two original newspapers. One was the New York Daily News with the day one story on JFK’s assassination,” says Whyte. “The other was a full New York Times 1912 newspaper with the ‘Sinking of the Titanic.'”

That full New York Times newspaper was recently framed by the Liberty Science Center and placed in the Titanic Exhibit for seven months. Items from the doomed ship have fascinated collectors for years. One of the most heart wrenching scenes from the 1997 James Cameron movie Titanic (and there were many) features the band playing on as the doomed ship sinks. This is based on true survivor recollections about of the disaster.

The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic, Wallace Hartley, was rumored to have been found strapped to his body as he floated out to sea. But it wasn’t until 2006 that the sentimental and historical instrument was unearthed in an attic. Rigorous testing by Henry Aldridge and Son proved the violin to be Hartley’s. In 2013, it sold for $1.7 million. A letter Wallace Hartley wrote to his parents during his first day on the Titanic also sold for $185,968.80.  “This is a fine ship & there ought to be plenty of money on her,” he wrote. “We have a fine band & the boys seem very nice.”

Plus: Learn the 10 places burglars always look first.

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A Rare Copy of the Declaration of Independence

The New York Post reported researchers discovered a copy of the Declaration of Independence in storage at a record office in southern England. According to a press release from Harvard University, the document being called “The Sussex Declaration,” apparently dates back to the 1780s. It is believed to have once belonged to the Third Duke of Richmond, known as the “Radical Duke” for his support of the Americans during the Revolution.

In August 2015 researcher Emily Sneff, of the Declaration Resources Project, was attempting to create a database on every known edition of the Declaration, she told The Harvard Gazette. The document caught her attention because of the catalog listing that it was a manuscript on parchment. Her and Harvard’s Danielle Allen began to investigate. After reviewing a photo of the document from the archives she realized it was different than any other copy she had ever seen before.

“When I looked at it closely, I started to see details, like names that weren’t in the right order—John Hancock isn’t listed first, there’s a mark at the top that looks like an erasure, the text has very little punctuation in it—and it’s in a handwriting I hadn’t seen before,” she added. “As those details started adding up, I brought it to Danielle’s attention and we realized this was different from any other copy we had seen.”

The researchers will continue to study how the document reached England, as well as attempt to decipher some text that appears to be scraped away at the top of the parchment, according to the Gazette.

Expand your American history knowledge base by learning these 10 fun flag facts.