It’s every flea market shopper’s ultimate dream – enjoying a day out at a local market searching through the exciting and intimate niknaks of someone’s former life, only to discover that one treasured item. Something unique which only the trained eye – such as yours – would identify for what it truly is…invaluable. Here are some of the best flea market, yard and garage sale finds in history.
Flea Market Treasure
1. Andy Warhol sketch
British businessman, Andy Fields, bought a number of illustrations at a Las Vegas flea market in 2010 including, quite unintentionally, what is believed to be a childhood sketch by American Pop artist, Andy Warhol. Purchased for only $5 (R66), the sketch of 1930s singer and actor, Rudee Valley – which is signed ‘Andy Warhol’ – is believed to be worth an estimated R26 million. However, Fields said he would not sell the piece but rather have it displayed in a gallery.
2. Floyd Landis bicycle
Despite his massive fall from grace following the international doping scandal that saw many top cyclists stripped of titles, Floyd Landis still has some fiduciary pull. Or so Kentucky resident, Greg Estes, certainly believes after he bought Landis’ bike for $5 (R66) at the 127 Corridor Sale, extending from Alabama to Michigan along Route 127 and believed to be the biggest ‘yard’ sale globally. The bike – worth about R52 000 – literally fell off a truck in transit and was found by an interstate worker. The ridiculously low price was because the pedals – customised for Landis – appeared broken to the uninformed.
3. 11th Century Chinese bowl
One New Yorker hit the jackpot after purchasing a small, white bowl for only $3 (R40) at a flea market. Displayed proudly in the owner’s home for years, curiosity led to the discovery that the bowl was, in fact, a rare ‘Ding’ bowl of the Northern Song Dynasty dating back a thousand years. The bowl went on sale at Sotheby’s in 2013 where it fetched an incredible R29 million.
4. James Bond watch
An Englishman paid R500 for a Breitling wristwatch from a local market, only to discover that it was worn by Sean Connery in the 1965 James Bond film, Thunderball. In 2013, the watch went on auction at Christies where it sold for just over R2 million, possibly because it was the first watch to be modified by Q to include a Geiger counter which detected nuclear radiation.
5. Alexander Calder necklace
For the mere price of $15 (R197), a Philadelphia woman bought a stunning piece of bold jewellery which became a treasured possession. Three years later, she was visiting the Philadelphia Art Museum when she spotted an exhibition of jewellery by American sculptor, Alexander Calder. After taking the necklace to the Calder Foundation in New York for certification, she put it on auction at Christie’s where it was sold for more than R3.5 million.
6. The Declaration of Independence
The crown jewel of American treasure-hunter findings is the Declaration of Independence, a first printing of which was discovered behind a torn painting found at a flea market. Having bought the picture for $4 (R52) merely for the frame, the owner was delighted to discover this historical gem – one of only 24 original copies - in the backing. In 1991, he showed it to Sotheby’s experts who confirmed its authenticity, and then sold it on auction for an astounding R31 million.
7. ‘Preparation to Escape Egypt’ painting
A German student bought a pull-out couch for R2 800 at a Berlin flea market which she obviously only pulled out when she got home. Inside the couch she found a 17th Century Venetian painting by an unknown artist, entitled ‘Preparation to Escape Egypt’, which was sold at a Hamburg art auction for R364 000.
Try your luck at finding a few treasured items at Montana Family Market in Pretoria. Situated on the corner of Enkeldoorn Avenue and Sefako Makgatho Drive, Pretoria, just across from Kolonnade Mall, Montana Family Market is a diverse shopping experience promising family fun. Pop in for a quick shop and bite to eat or stay for a full day of family fun at one of Pretoria’s best markets.