Loren never expected to be here, his life changed in a matter of seconds. One after the other the hands and white paddles flashed into the air. Loren watched as the number went higher and higher, his head spinning as he watched it all happen. All in all it took seventy-seven seconds to change his life forever.
It had been a difficult decade for Loren Krytzer. He’d made a career out of being a carpenter but work was slow and freelance jobs few and far between. As a result, he was barely scraping by. Some months he would barely scrape by. What he didn’t know was that his life was about to change and help would come from the strangest source.
Loren’s grandmother had passed away three years earlier. He went to his grandmother’s house to collect the books and other items that she had promised him. When he entered the house, however, it was almost empty. As it turned out, his mother and sister plundered anything of value from the house. Loren found little more than two old blankets that belonged to his great-grandmother which he held up to examine them.
The first of the two blankets was an old, but still soft, Hudson’s Bay blanket. The second was older and rougher and brought back memories of it spread out on the porch by his grandmother when the cat was about to have kittens. While he examined it, his sister grabbed the first blanket, leaving him with the older one.
The Unwanted Item
“What are you going to do with that?” Loren asked her. “I don’t want that, that dirty old thing?” his sister snapped impatiently. Resignedly, Loren took the second blanket home and put it away in a closet, where it would remain for some time. He would only later discover the true importance of the striped blanket.
For the next seven years, Loren’s life slowly fell apart further and further. Due to an accident, Loren couldn’t work for almost a year and sadly he was denied government assistance during that time. In desperation, he sent his children to live with his parents to ensure they have a good life, but his life continued to fall apart. Then he spotted something on TV that would change his life.
Watching TV while eating ramen noodles for dinner, Loren happened to find himself watching Antiques Roadshow on PBS. It was little more than background noise as Loren wasn’t really paying attention. Suddenly he saw something that made him sit up and pay attention.
A man on the show was presenting an old blanket that bore a striking resemblance to the one he had taken from his grandmother’s house. Don Ellis was the appraiser that day and he was admiring the blanket. As it turned out the blanket the man had brought to the show was a priceless artifact and the pricetag left Loren’s mouth hanging open.
“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 remembered. “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 why was this blanket so valuable?
Acting On A Hunch
When Loren showed his mother the piece from Antiques Roadshow she dismissed him saying: “Yeah right… probably nobody would give you freaking $10 for that thing.” Her answer didn’t deter him, however. He was determined to discover what he truly had.
Loren decided to take his blanket to several antique dealers to find out if it were worth anything. Since he was living off a mere $200 a month, Loren would happily accept anything he could get. Unfortunately, three different dealers informed him that it was no more than a worthless Mexican blanket. He was close to giving up but he still had one more person to see first.
John Moran Auctioneers
The family-run John Moran Auctioneers is an established company that is well known for dealing with Native American items. They were having an open appraisal day and he decided to pop in to have a look. He drove the 30 minutes to the location and put his blanket on display. An appraiser approached and Loren hoped that he wouldn’t appear foolish. What he didn’t realize was that it was none other than the head appraiser, John Moran, himself.
Moran examined the blanket and asked Loren about the origins and history of the blanket. Loren told him that the blanket had been passed down from his great-great-grandfather. He had been a tradesman in the 1800s and had operated in Dakota. Moran couldn’t believe his ears.
“A lot of times a blanket or something will come to us and we won’t know the history of it,” Moran said. As Moran listened to Loren’s story, he became more and more convinced that the blanket 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,” Moran explained. “You walk into the room [and] you can tell.”
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.”
Taking A Break
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 weigh 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 safekeeping, 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.