Retirement Strategy #435: Buy Million Dollar Junk at Garage Sales

by SMD 

Sometimes the best, and most solid retirement strategies are overlooked because of their simplicity. Like Retirement Strategy #435, for instance. All you have to do- it’s so simple it’s hardly worth mentioning- is buy cheap pictures and picture frames and other junk at garage sales, and then later accidentally discover that your sparkling new $1 painting is actually worth $100,000, or a million. Or maybe that old picture is hiding behind it an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. Then cash in, and head for the Bahamas. This retirement tip is offered for no charge, although a 10% commission of all loot is strongly suggested. Here are a few true stories of people finding valuable things at garage sales, to get you motivated.

#1 – $2 File Cabinet Containing Old Stock Certificates

Fred Pietrowski was at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago, and he picked up a real deal. A strong, sturdy old file cabinet for $2. The deal turned into a steal, though, when he found at the very back behind the top drawer some old papers. They were a stack of stocks and bonds from 1988, of AT&T and other companies. The stocks had a purchase value of $50,000, but have accrued more than eight percent interest since 1988, making their estimated value well over $100,000. Fred and his wife Linda are looking for the owners of the money. “What goes around comes around. You do the right thing, it balances out”, Fred said.

#2 -  $5 Painting a Joseph Decker Original

A Los Angeles actor who decided to remain anonymous bought a painting for $5 at a garage sale. It turned out to be a Joseph Decker original, worth over a million dollars. There’s now one less actor waiting tables in L.A.

#3 -  $200 for an Original E.J. Hughes Painting

Paul Martin paid top dollar for a yard sale painting- $200. There was something he liked about it, and the purchase just felt right. It sat on his wall for four years, before Paul got curious about it’s actual value. It turned out his $200 wasn’t quite top dollar. He was able to sell the work, by the respected British Columbia artist E.J. Hughes, for $100,000. Plus an extra $3 for the picture frame.

#4 -  $4 Picture Frame that Contained a Certain Historical Document…

Then there’s the true story we all heard of, of the man who bought a picture frame for $4. at a Philadelphia flea market, and discovered a copy of the Declaration of Independence in it. It was one of the original copies and it sold for 2.42 million dollars. The winning bidder was able to turn it around and sell it again for over $8,000,000, to TV producer Norman Lear (Rumors that he then sold it to a garage sale for $4 have not been substantiated).

In another thrift shop last year, in Nashville, a man bought a copy of the declaration of independence for $2.50. It was a copy from 1820 and is estimated to be worth around $300,000.

#5 – Pablo Picasso Painting for $1 

And last but not least, Pete Pivens paid a hard earned buck for a painting at a yard sale. He took a good look later and kinda recognized the name on the signature. Some dude named Pablo Picasso. One expert has already authenticated the signature, and they are getting a second opinion to make sure. It could easily be worth over a million dollars. Not a bad return on his investment, over all, even when the cost of gas for driving to the garage sale is taken into account.

Okay, now that you’ve been motivated, go out there and simply look for some invaluable masterpieces that look exactly like every other piece of garage sale shite. Happy Hunting!

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5 Responses to “Retirement Strategy #435: Buy Million Dollar Junk at Garage Sales”

  1. Carnival of Personal Finance 134: Building on the Basics | Mrs. Micah: Finance for a Freelance Life on January 7th, 2008 3:37 am

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  2. Monday Tenor - Other Voices and Carnivals Around the Web | Millionaire Neumes on January 7th, 2008 10:25 pm

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  3. Carnival of Money, Growth and Happiness #27 | Credit Card Lowdown on January 8th, 2008 12:46 pm

    [...] Symons presents Retirement Strategy #435: Buy Million Dollar Junk at Garage Sales posted at Smart Money Daily. All you have to do- it’s so simple it’s hardly worth mentioning- [...]

  4. Carnival of Money Stories #41 « Carnival of Money Stories - Read About Personal Finance on January 8th, 2008 2:44 pm

    [...] Smart Money Daily and Garage Sales. [...]

  5. Dividend growth investor on March 27th, 2008 7:32 am

    That’s a very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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