The 10 Most Valuable Things Found In Thrift Stores And Flea Markets

By on May 5, 2015 in ArticlesEntertainment

Thrifting–you've either got the bug or you don't. You either walk in and find a pair of barely worn Christian Louboutin shoes for $5, or you walk in and find people's used clothing and goods. Like I said, you either love to do it, or you tolerate it. However, after you read about the following 10 insanely valuable treasures that were found while thrifting, those of you who'd prefer a trip to the mall might find yourself walking through the doors of your local Goodwill store in search of valuable treasures.

10. Vertical Diamond by Ilya Bolotowsky: $34,375

In 2012, Beth Feedback was an unemployed artist wandering through her local Goodwill. She found a couple of oil paintings that she liked and paid $9.99 for the pair. A friend of hers suggested that she look up the name of one of the artists, Ilya Bolotowsky. When Google (we presume) returned the search results, Feedback was shocked. Sotheby's gave an estimate value of the painting at $15,000 to $20,000. It ended up selling for $34,375. Not a bad return on Feedback's $9.99 purchase.

Vertical Diamond

Vertical Diamond

9. 1959 Jaeger-Lecoultre Watch: $35,000

Zach Norris was strolling through the merchandise at a local Goodwill in Phoenix, Arizona when he came across a watch with a price tag of $5.99. It was a 1959 Jaeger-Lecoultre watch and Norris sensed he was getting an insane bargain for it. He was right. He put the watch up for sale on a watch collector's website and it sold for $35,000.


8. Vince Lombardi Sweater: $43,020

We've all got an old ripped sweater in our wardrobe that we really should throw away. Sean and Rikki McEvoy did too. They picked up a sweater for $0.58 at their local Goodwill in Asheville, North Carolina in 2014. After the couple watched a television show about NFL legend Vince Lombardi in which there was footage of the coach wearing a remarkably similar sweater, they decided to see if the ripped sweater they picked up for less than a dollar was Vince Lombardi's sweater. It was. The ripped sweater sold at auction for $43,020.


7. Chinese Libation Cup: $75,640

In 2013, an Australian browsing in a local thrift store in Sydney purchased an unusual cup for $4. The person, who wishes to remain anonymous, then send a picture of the cup to Sotheby's. The Sotheby's representative told him it was a 17th century Chinese "libation cup" carved from the horn of a rhinoceros. The cup sold at auction soon after for $75,640 Australian.cup

6. Bond Watch: $160,175

An Englishman perusing merchandise at a flea market got a great deal. For $38 he bought a Breitling watch worn by Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1965 movie Thunderball. Christie's auctioned the watch off in 2013 for $160,175.


5. 1650 Flemish Painting:  $190,000

In 2006, a man named Leroy bought a $3 painting at his local Goodwill store. His daughter was curious to know if the painting was worth anything, so she took it to an Antiques Roadshow where it was appraised for $20,000 to $30,000. Then, in 2012, the painting sold at auction in Massachusetts for $190,000. The painting turned out to be a Flemish work of art from the year 1650.


4. Alexander Calder Necklace:  $267,750

A Philadelphia woman found a great necklace at a flea market that she just had to have. Three years later, that same woman was visiting the Philadelphia Art Museum and she found herself looking at a display of original Alexander Calder jewelry that looked just like her necklace. She contacted the Calder Foundation in New York City to verify her necklace's authenticity and then put it up for auction at Christie's. In September 2013, the necklace sold for $267,750.


3. Declaration of Independence (Sparks):  $477,650

There's a certain kind of American dream – the one where you come upon an old document in a thrift store and it turns out to be an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. That happened in 2006 to Michael Sparks while he was browsing in a thrift store in Nashville, Tennessee. He came across a rolled up document with no price tag. The cashier sold it to him for $2.48 plus tax. Sparks later found out it was an 1823 copy of the Declaration of Independence. In 2007, it sold at auction in North Carolina for $477,650.


2. Declaration of Independence: $2.4 million

The Declaration of Independence did it again. In 1991 a man paid $4.00 for an old picture in a wooden frame at a flea market in Adamstown, Pennsylvania. He took it home and discovered the document hidden behind the picture. That copy of the Declaration of Independence sold for $2.4 million.

1. Faberge Egg: $30 million

A scrap metal dealer paid $14,000 for a Faberge Egg at a flea market. He planned to melt the golden egg down for scrap. However, it turns out that this Faberge Egg was the real deal and was sold for $30 million at auction. Of the 50 Faberge Imperial Eggs known to have existed, only 43 are currently accounted for. Will you find the next one at your local thrift store or flea market?

Faberge Egg vs Cupcake

Faberge Egg vs Cupcake


Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
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