The discovery of Marvin Gaye’s passport at a US house clearance sale — which could be worth $20,000 to collectors today — is just the latest find of unlikely treasure:
— A $3 (Dh11) house clearance buy turned into a massive windfall for a lucky American bargain hunter: the Chinese bowl sold for $2.23 million (1.64 million euros) at an auction at Sotheby’s in March 2013.
The small pottery bowl turned out to be a thousand-year-old “Ding” bowl dating from the Song dynasty, which ruled China from 960 to 1279.
— An 18th-century 40-centimetre Qianlong porcelain Chinese vase discovered in the clearance of a modest London house fetched a staggering #43 million ($68.5 million, 50.7 million euros) in November 2010.
— A German student who bought a battered fold-up sofa at a flea market in October 2007 for 150 euros sold a 17th-century Italian painting she discovered tucked inside it for 19,200 euros.
The canvas, which was wrapped up in old rags, is titled “Preparing the Flight to Egypt” and believed to be the work of pupils of Venetian early Baroque master Carlo Saraceni.
— A German woman was astonished to find deutschemark banknotes and account savings books worth 100,000 euros tucked in the lining of an old washing basket she bought at a flea market in 2005.
The woman from Bavaria bought the basket for just seven euros but decided to remove the material because it smelled. Deutschemarks were abandoned in favour of the euro in January 2002 but could still be exchanged for legal tender.
— A six-minute telephone interview with the Beatles recorded in 1964 and bought at a Los Angeles flea market for $5 in November 2001 sold for $10,400 dollars at an online auction.
— An American collector became an overnight multimillionaire in 2000 after a set of 65 glass negatives he picked up at a garage sale for $45 a decade earlier turned out to be genuine Ansel Adams works.
The collector bought the photographic plates in Fresno, California. After being authenticated they were valued at a staggering $200 million dollars.