It’s the dream of everyone who shops at thrift stores and garage sales: to stumble across a Stradivarius violin inside a Fender guitar case, or an early draft of the Bill of Rights tucked behind a framed painting of Dogs Playing Poker, or a Honus Wagner rookie card in the middle of a stack of Garbage Pail Kids.
Or, in the case of Northamptonshire resident Todd Chamberlain, to buy a tank and find it stuffed with gold.
That’s exactly what happen to the proprietor of Tanks-A-Lot, Todd’s biz that allows anyone who’s ever wished they could drive a tank around a farm to live their dream. Todd already owns 150 military vehicles, but was eager to add a Russian T54/69 listed on eBay to his collection, so he traded in an Army lorry and Abbot (another kind of tank) to the seller.
While restoring it with a mechanic friend, Todd opened up the fuel tank to make sure munitions and explosives hadn’t been secreted inside, only to make the bombshell revelation that it was being used to smuggle bars of solid gold.
Todd traded away approximately $37,500 dollars’ worth of artillery for the tank, and he estimates the gold is valued at about $2,500,000. The value of a troy ounce of gold is $1,272.70 at this very moment, which is $18,559.78 a pound, meaning the guy found about 135 pounds of gold in his gas tank, bringing a new meaning to the term “worth its weight in gold”: a literal one.
It’s too late to tell if this story has a happy ending, however, since the guy actually turned his haul over to the cops and is awaiting judgement on its rightful owner.
Here are some other amazing resale scores:
It’s rare to win a wearable trophy, unless you count putting the Wimbledon cup on a chain around your neck. The green sport coat awarded the winner of the Augusta National Tournament is surely the most coveted item of clothing for any golfer…except for the unknown champ who donated his to some thrift store in Canada. The jacket sold for five bucks in 1994. It sold this week at auction FORE $139,348.
What do the words “Air Raid” mean to you? Parker Posey shrieking “aaiir raiiid!!!” as she orders freshmen coeds to the concrete in Dazed and Confused? How about what we’ll all be enduring soon from Syria, Russia, and North Korea combined? If you’re an Atari collector, a copy of this exceedingly rare cartridge represents a holy grail. Sure, the game sucks, but that wasn’t important to Tanner Sandlin, who sold a copy he received in the 80s for free in 2013 for $33,433.30.
If the name Jaeger LeCoultre doesn’t mean anything to you, well, you’re probably the kind of person who would donate one to a thrift shop. While the watchmaker’s name recognition isn’t on par with Rolex to the general public, timepiece enthusiasts would recognize the venerable Swiss brand anywhere, especially if they happened to spot one in the case at Goodwill. That’s what happened with Zach Norris, who found a 1959 Jaeger LeCoultre diving watch on sale for $5.99. He sold it for $35,000.
If Lou Reed could have gotten $75,000 bucks for a single copy of the Velvet Underground’s early recordings, he absolutely would have spent it all on heroin and died before he could have recorded such classics as “Sweet Jane” and “Heroin.” But he could not, meaning he went on to survive his entire time with the now-legendary rock group. Those early recordings are now valuable collector’s items, like the EP he recorded in 1996, which was purchased at New York City sidewalk sale for seventy-five cents, then sold for twenty five grand on eBay. The wax’s worth is down to the fact that it contains the only known recording of that particular session.
Van Gogh is among the ultra-elite ranks of artist to have works sell for more than a hundred million dollars at auction—four of his works have hammered above nine figures. So it’s less impressive—but still pretty impressive—that the troubled Dutchman’s Still Life with Flowers sold for only 1.4 million dollars in 1991. The painting’s owners didn’t even have to leave their house to make this score: it had been hanging in their house for thirty years. While the paintings exact provenance remains unknown, it’s safe to assume it was purchased for much, much, much, much less than 1.4 million.