A bizarre twist of fate had led Loren here, and just seconds later, he would finally know the truth. Arms in the crowd flew up into the air one after the other, and with each flash of a white card, he found it harder and harder to catch his breath. The number rose steadily, higher and higher… in time with his beating heart.
When the longest seconds of his life were finally over, he was left shell-shocked and gawking. Sometimes, seventy-seven seconds is all it takes to turn your life around.
A Twist Of Fate
Loren Krytzer had had a rough decade. He had built himself a career from doing what he loved – carpentry and building things with his hands. But with freelance and odd jobs here and there, he found himself just barely scraping by. Some months were worse than others, but as living expenses increased year by year, living from hand-to-mouth became his reality.
Little did he know, a glimmer of hope was just around the corner – and he’d find it in the most unlikely of places.
What Was Left
Three years earlier, Loren received the sad news of his grandmother’s passing and had gone to the house to collect the books she had promised him. When he arrived, the house was a shambles. His sister and his mother had ransacked his grandmother’s home and had taken everything of value.
Inside a discarded bag in the corner, Loren found two old blankets that had belonged to his great-grandmother. He pulled them out to inspect them one by one.
A Tale Of Two Blankets
The first blanket was a Hudson’s Bay blanket, and although it was old, it was still fairly soft. The second blanket was much older, and rougher to the touch.
Loren recognized the distinctive pattern and vaguely remembered his grandmother laying it out on the porch for her cat when she was having kittens all those years ago. But before he could react, his sister snatched the first blanket from his hands, letting the second fall to the floor.
The Unwanted Heirloom
“What are you going to do with that?” Loren asked, resigned. “I don’t want that, that dirty old thing?” she snapped. So Loren picked it up and took it home with him, where it was stashed in a closet, forgotten.
Although the striped blanket didn’t look like much on its surface, he never understood the importance of that particular blanket — until much, much later.
For the next seven years, Loren found himself on a slow and sure slide to destitution. An unfortunate accident had left him unable to work for the better part of a year, but he was denied government assistance.
Eventually, Loren’s financial situation became so dire that he had to send his three children to live with their grandparents in Louisiana. But he had accepted his lot in life and was determined to make the best of it. That’s when he saw something on TV that changed everything.
One evening in 2011, Loren was eating ramen noodles for dinner and idly watching a show on PBS called ‘Antiques Roadshow.’ He wasn’t really paying attention to the television and kept finding his mind wandering. Nevertheless, the show was good background noise.
Suddenly, he saw it… a flash of stripes, white on blue. That’s when he sat bolt upright and snapped to attention.
A Master Appraiser
There was a man on the show with what looked like an old blanket, very similar in appearance to the one that Loren had inherited from his grandmother. Appraiser Don Ellis stood admiring the piece before leveling his expert opinion.
The man who had brought the old blanket onto ‘Antiques Roadshow’ had had no idea that he had been sitting on a priceless artifact. And when the appraiser opens his mouth to speak, Loren is left completely gobsmacked.
“I paused it and I went and got the blanket and I’m sitting there holding it… I’m lining up the lines on the TV with the blanket, seeing if they match,” Loren recalls. “This guy is on TV, the appraiser, says $300,000 to $500,000… I’m thinking maybe this one is worth $5 to $10 grand.”
But this was only the beginning of Loren’s battle to learn the old blanket’s true worth. And what would make an old blanket so unbelievably valuable anyway?
Going On A Feeling
Loren excitedly showed his mother the ‘Antiques Roadshow’ segment, but she cut down his enthusiasm with a sneer, “Yeah right… probably nobody would give you freaking $10 for that thing.”
But the more Loren looked at the blanket, the more convinced he became that he had something… even though he didn’t know exactly what that ‘something’ was… yet.
Loren made it his first order of business to visit an antique dealer. He had to know if the old blanket was worth something. He was now living off just $200 a month, so any amount he could get for it would be a Godsend.
Unfortunately, Loren’s blanket was dismissed as a run-of-the-mill Mexican blanket by three experts. He was about to give up when he decided to try one last time.
John Moran Auctioneers
John Moran Auctioneers is an established and family-run auction company who had earned a reputation for selling Native American artifacts. Loren had seen an advert online for an open appraisal day and had seized the opportunity. As far as he was concerned, he had nothing to lose.
After driving for 30 minutes, Loren arrived at the auctioneers, where he would put his faith and the old blanket on display for none other than John Moran, head appraiser. He only hoped that he wouldn’t look like a fool.
John Moran sits across from Loren and asks what he knows about the history of the blanket, and Loren delivers.
He starts by stating what he knows: the blanket has been in the family for generations and was passed down by his great-great-grandfather, who was a tradesman from Dakota in the 1800s. And the appraiser’s eyes grow wider and wider in their sockets.
“A lot of times a blanket or something will come to us and we won’t know the history of it,” Moran said later. But he had a hunch that what Loren had brought to him was an authentic Navajo blanket.
“This has only happened maybe three or four times with an unknown blanket where you see something and you know right away,” he explained. “You walk into the room [and] you can tell.” Could Loren’s old blanket really be that rare?
John Moran, keen to find out the blanket’s secrets, sent it for tests and authentication. When the results were in, everybody was astonished.
The dusty old blanket that Loren had stashed away in a cupboard for seven years was one of the finest and rarest Navajo chief’s blankets in the world. But just what was it worth?
John Moran set the price at a staggering $200,000 for the blanket if Loren agreed to put it up for auction. But competing companies caught wind of the Navajo blanket and were suddenly very interested in Loren’s find.
Loren needed money, and he needed it fast. And other auctioneers were all too happy to make his dreams come true with promises of advances – but only if he would back out of his sales agreement with John Moran. Soon, Loren found himself about to give in to the overwhelming temptation.
Thankfully Moran took action. “I immediately went into crisis mode with him,” Moran said in an interview. “I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna give you an advance.’” And, true to his word, he handed Loren an envelope containing $9,000 in cash.
“I’ve done everything I said I would. Just stay the course,” Moran reassured him, just weeks before the auction date. And sticking with Moran would later prove to be the best decision Loren ever made.
“Please be enough to buy a house or something,” Loren prays silently as he enters the auction house. Before he knows it, the bidding is on.
The opening bid starts at $150,000, and Loren holds his breath. Suddenly, the bid climbs to $500,000 and a battle ensues. A phone buyer and Don Ellis, the very same man who had appeared on the segment of ‘Antiques Roadshow’ that Loren had seen, bid fiercely against one another – neither backing down as the price of the old blanket skyrockets.
The Final Bid
The bidding war only lasts for seventy-seven seconds, with Ellis winning the final bid at $1.5 Million. Loren can barely believe what’s just happened.
“They had to bring over water and stuff to me and wipe sweat off my head,” Loren recalled. “I started hyperventilating because I couldn’t believe it… Everything just went limp and I couldn’t catch my breath.”
Taking Home A Cool $1.3 Million
Joshua Baer, art appraiser, later described the bid on Loren’s old Navajo blanket as “a Fraiser-Ali kind of thing.”So, what amount did Loren walk away with?
Loren received $1.3 million for his old blanket after fees but found it hard to come to terms with what had just happened, “It was just hard to grasp,” he says. “I mean, I worked hard my whole life. I was in construction, I never bought anything, I never saved, I always rented. I bought used cars because that’s all I could afford. I lived paycheck to paycheck my whole life.”
After the good news, Loren retreated to a hotel, where he decompressed for five days.
Loren’s story illustrates how riches can be found in the most unlikely places. One man got more than he bargained for when he bought an old tank on eBay…
Striking It Rich
As Nick Mead reached into the old fuel canister, he had no idea what to expect. His hand briefly brushed against something smooth and cold. Alarmed, he yanked it out immediately.
Who knows what lurked in the tank after what they had just found in the other canister. Nick had no idea what he had gotten himself into. All he wanted was the tank. He had never bargained on becoming an instant millionaire by doing so.
A Man Of Mystery
Nick Mead was an average English bloke. Residing in Northampton, England, he seemed like your ordinary guy. However, he did have one part to his character that made him stand out from the rest.
Nick had a passion for tanks. So much so, that he began to collect old armored vehicles. But this quickly developed from a passion, into something far darker.
An Expensive Hobby
Nick’s passion quickly grew into an obsession. And he quickly began to acquire more and more collectible vehicles. But this came with a hefty price tag. Collecting tanks and other wartime vehicles were not the cheapest hobbies around.
These collectibles quickly began to burn a hole in Nick’s pocket. Especially since once acquired, they did nothing more than stand around. But then, Nick had a crazy idea. But it was so crazy that it just might work.
Tanks A Lot
Nick knew he needed to start making a profit off of his prized possessions. But war museums were so dated and boring. But then he had a stroke of genius. What if he turned it into a first-hand experience? Nick was thrilled with this idea.
As such, Tanks A Lot was born and introduced to the public. Soon, members of the community were enjoying rides in veteran war vehicles and thrill seekers came from far and wide. But one day Nick saw something that would change his life forever.
A Rare Find
One day, while browsing through e-Bay, Nick came across a rare find. He stumbled upon a listing for an old Soviet T-54. This was sure a collector’s item. And Nick knew he had to have it. Quickly, he entered into negotiations with the seller.
But the man drove a hard bargain. He wasn’t merely looking for monetary compensation. When he learned of Nick’s profession, he insisted on doing a trade for the tank. And so, Nick had a tough choice ahead of him.
A Compromise Is Met
After much deliberation and sleepless nights, Nick agreed to the seller’s terms. As such, he bid farewell to two of his finest vehicles in exchange for the T-54. But Nick knew something the young seller did not.
Tanks are often used to transport valuable goods and people during times of war. And the T-54 was a common vehicle used during the Iraq-Iran gulf war of the nineties. However, Nick did not expect to stumble upon the eerie find in one of the fuel canisters.
An Eerie Find
Nick and his team had a set routine when acquiring a new vehicle. They would check the tank from top to bottom, looking for faulty part or hidden gems. And it just so happened that the T-54 was filled with the latter.
One day, his crew was taking apart the fuel canisters of the tank. However, one seemed to be out of service. When removed, Nick was astounded by the weight of the canister. But when he opened it up, he was not ready for what he found.
Doing The Right Thing
Reams and reams of old bullets fell from within the canister. Nick was astounded at the hidden arsenal. He also was cautious of it. Old bullets were incredibly sensitive pieces of war memorabilia.
If treated incorrectly, they may go off, causing mass destruction. As such, Nick went straight to the authorities to declare his find. But now Nick knew something. He knew that the tank was used as a keepsake hideaway box.
There Must Be More
Nick knew there must be more hidden within the tank. As such, he and his staff went to town on searching every nook and cranny of the vehicle. He couldn’t afford for old arsenal to be left within the tank.
If a civilian became maimed by something he had missed inside the vehicle, he would be held accountable. And so, the great search began. But Nick was not prepared for what was found next.
Not Ready For This
Finding the next bit of hidden treasure wasn’t as hard as Nick thought. The team came across another faulty fuel canister. But this was different from the one before. It took two staff members to pry the canister off of its holding bracket with crowbars.
This canister seemed to weight a ton. Quickly, Nick bore a hole in the bottom of the fuel tank to see if he could reach inside. He thought he’d find guns to accompany the hidden bullets he had found earlier. But this tank held a far richer keep.
A Hidden Fortune
As Nick slid his hand across the smooth surface, he got an instant thrill. Quickly, he latched onto the bar and pulled it out of the canister. This discovery sent him reeling.
In his hand, Nick held a gleaming gold bullion. He absolutely could not believe his luck! Nick marveled at the bar and showed it to the team. This inspired them to hoist the canister out to see what else was hidden within. And this is when things began to heat up.
More Than Meets The Eye
One of Nick’s engineers began to reach into the fuel tank. And it seemed every time his hand came out, it was holding another bullion. In total, the tank contained five gold bars!
This was estimated to cost a whopping $2.4 million. Nick was baffled by the monumental find. But now, he was plagued by his conscience. Whatever would he do with this treasure?
Everything in Nick’s being wanted to hold on to the bars. But he knew this was not morally sound. Nor safe. If he kept ownership of the bars, he would put his business and family at great risk.
He would be a target for crime should anyone learn of his bars. As such, Nick decided to call the local police force. But still, he needed to know what would become of the bars.
A Mysterious Owner
Nick was given a receipt by the police who then took the bars into police custody. The authorities would try and find the rightful owners of the goods. But what would happen should no one claim them?
Nick was not sure. But still, for safe keeping, he kept the receipt of the bars in a bank vault. Authorities came back with a baffling theory on who the previous owners may be.
What Ever Will Happen?
The police shared news which Nick sure was not ready for. They speculated that the owner of the gold may have been Saddam Hussein himself! This type of tank was favored by the war veteran during the Iraq-Iran war of 1990.
Plus, his troops were known to pillage the rich Persian Gulf. However, to this day no solid claims have been made and the ownership of the bars still lies in question.