Man Buys $4 Painting, Finds Note Worth $1M Inside


An Absolute Steal

The painting cost him a mere four dollars; it was the bargain of the century! The frame cost almost triple the price of the picture, and he could not wait to get home and replace the painting with one of his own.

His fingers slid the painting out of the frame with care. That’s when he noticed it. At first, he had no idea what it was, but after further study, he was stunned.

An Entrepreneur

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Kevin was a Scranton-based artist. He loved being an entrepreneur, and he paid all of his bills by selling his art.

Kevin used the most beautiful frames he could find to frame his artworks. Although the strategy was time-consuming, it ensured that he was adequately compensated. What he discovered while looking for a frame would forever impact his life.

His Search

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Kevin finally finished his latest piece, and he knew that there was something special about his painting. And a unique painting requires a particular frame. It had to be golden, and he searched all over Scranton to find the perfect match. However, his search was fruitless.

His friends had told him about a flea market in Adamstown, and Kevin knew the frame he was searching for would be there. However, he was in for a big surprise. 

Going To Adamstown

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Kevin made the trip down to Adamstown on one sunny Saturday. He looked through each stall until he stumbled upon a booth that had unique frames and paintings.

He did not have to search for much longer as a painting of a countryside vista caught his eye. The painting was nothing to write home about, but it was the perfect frame for Kevin’s piece. 

The Perfect Frame

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Kevin decided to initiate the negotiating process with the seller, and after several minutes the seller agreed to sell the item for $4. Kevin was ecstatic.

Kevin raced home. He quickly whipped up some dinner before looking at the painting. After dinner, he inspected the artwork, and something interesting caught his eye.

Preparing The Frame

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Several aluminum hangers held the painting to the frame, which Kevin swiftly removed. He extended his fingers and slid the artwork out of the frame with care.

However, a large piece of folded paper slipped out as he carried the metallic structure to his workbench. Kevin stepped right over it without paying attention. He was on his way to the kitchen to prepare his coffee when he noticed the paper. What was it, exactly?

Hidden Note

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Kevin promptly forgot about his coffee; the paper needed his attention more. Was this some documentation that belonged to the previous owner? Perhaps it was something dark and mysterious.

The paper looked worn-out, indicating that it was pretty old. Kevin slowly started opening the document, stunned at its size. He skimmed it and nearly fell over when he recognized what he was touching.

Is It Real?

Public Domain

Kevin murmured, “A copy of the Declaration of Independence.” Since the original artwork was in the National Archives Museum, he knew what he had, wasn’t it. But what was the source of his giddy enthusiasm?

He dashed over to his office, knocking the frame aside and laying the declaration carefully on the table. He was about to dismiss it as a standard copy when he opted to have an appraiser look at it. He’d be at a loss for words after hearing the appraiser’s response.

Seeking A Professional

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Kevin had spent the previous week trying to locate an appraiser who could examine the paper for a reasonable fee. One of his buddies put him in touch with a reputed appraiser who offered to take a look at it.

After a few weeks, she phoned. Her voice was brimming with anticipation. She said, “You won’t believe what I’m going to tell you.” Kevin completely forgot about the declaration by this point. However, the appraiser’s tone reawakened his excitement.

What She Learned

Public Domain

“What you have here is a rare original Dunlap broadside copy,” the appraiser explained. “One of 500 official copies from the first printing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.”

She went on to tell Kevin everything that she had learned,  including how only twenty-three duplicates had been discovered. But why did she sound like this if it was a replica of the original?

A Rare Copy

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“Out of the twenty-three that exist, only two are privately owned,” shared the appraiser. “Your find is so rare that I’m estimating its price between eight hundred thousand dollars and one million.”

Kevin’s mind almost imploded, and he had to ask the appraiser to repeat her statement. She assured him that several private collectors would pay top dollar for the declaration. What were his thoughts on the matter?

Finding The Perfect Buyer


Kevin met the appraiser in the city, and they started looking for people who’d be interested in the declaration. Luckily, the appraiser had already lined up a few prospective buyers.

After a few dinners with them, she and Kevin knew who among them had their best interests at heart. As they prepared to make the sale, Kevin pondered his luck, wondering what he’d do with the money from the sale.

Making It Final

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Kevin and the appraiser met the private collector. The man was a pleasant fellow who offered a ride on his yacht as the three discussed the price of the declaration.

Kevin and the collector shook hands at the end of the evening, with all concerned parties agreeing on a $1.2 million price tag. The price was more than two hundred thousand of all other collectors’ offers. But the good news didn’t stop there.

More Doors Open


The private collector had sat and listened to Kevin’s story. He asked to see his best work on learning that he was a painter. Maybe they could arrange something.

Kevin didn’t hesitate to pull out his phone and present his paintings. He also gave a detailed rundown of all the art styles he loved painting in and was surprised to see how interested the collector was. Was he going to buy some of the paintings?

A New Deal

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The collector didn’t buy any of Kevin’s paintings. But what he did was far much better. He offered to sponsor Kevin’s work, to help him hone his art and spread it through all the essential channels.

As an art connoisseur, the collector was taken aback by Kevin’s art style, terming it as a new take on realism. He’d be honored to introduce Kevin to like-minded individuals.