8 Insanely Lucky Flea Market Finds

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More often than not, one person's garbage is also another person's garbage. These are the exceptions to the rule. 

1. ITEM: FLOYD LANDIS’S BICYCLE - $5

Sold For: $8000

Although Floyd Landis was stripped of his Tour de France title, it didn’t stop him from cycling. In 2008, a gust of wind blew one of his bikes off the vehicle transporting it. It was found on the side of the interstate and sold to Greg Estes at a garage sale.

2. 17TH-CENTURY PAINTING “PREPARATION TO ESCAPE EGYPT” - $215

Sold for: $27,630

In 2007, a German student visited a Berlin flea market and came home with a new pullout couch. When she opened it, she didn’t discover loose change or a lost remote control—she found a Venetian painting.

3. PAINTING BY ANTHONY VAN DYCK - $660

Not yet sold: Estimated at $660,000

Father Jamie McLeod, a Catholic priest, bought the painting at an antique shop, but only for its gold frame. Later, Antiques Roadshow confirmed it was the work of the top court painter of King Charles I.

4. ANDY WARHOL CHILDHOOD SKETCH - $5

Worth: Estimated $2 million

Andy Fields bought five crappy sketches at a Sin City garage sale. One picture boasted Warhol’s preteen signature.

5. 11TH-CENTURY CHINESE BOWL - $3

Sold for: $2.2 million

In 2013, a New York family bought a dish no bigger than a cereal bowl at a garage sale. The piece was actually 1000 years old!

6. ORIGINAL COPY OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - $4

Sold for: $2.42 million

In 1989, a Philadelphia man bought a cruddy painting at a flea market. While he was investigating a tear in the canvas, the frame broke apart and out fell a small folded document. It was one of 24 surviving copies of the original 1776 Declaration.

7. ORIGINAL VELVET UNDERGROUND DEMO LP - $0.75

Sold for: $26,200

Roving a Manhattan flea market in 2002, Warren Hill found a sleeveless LP with “Velvet Underground … 4/25/66” scrawled on the label. It was the same demo disc Columbia Records had rejected!

8. ANSEL ADAMS NEGATIVES - $45

Worth, if authentic: About $200 million

Rick Norsigian bought these negatives depicting American landscapes at a Fresno garage sale in 2000. Some experts insist they belonged to Ansel Adams, while others think they were snapped by Earl Brooks.

This story originally appeared in an issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe here.

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May 28, 2014 - 5:00pm
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