There’s a reason why shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters are our guilty pleasure. What could be more exciting than buying an old, decrepit storage unit and discovering something worth millions? Even if it’s not worth a lot, it probably has a pretty cool backstory. They’re like modern-day treasure chests.
That doesn’t always happen, but abandoned storage units are definitely full of unique and shocking items. From rare old Hollywood items to creepy evidence of murder, abandoned storage units are the gifts that just keep giving.
James Bond’s Submarine Car
Back in 1989 on Long Island, a man paid $100 for the contents of an abandoned storage unit. Inside, he found a white sports car. Pretty cool, but nothing to be too excited about.
It was only when he was towing the car home that other drivers started telling him over the CB radio that it was the submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. The man ended up selling the car for $1 million to Tesla founder Elon Musk.
Nicolas Cage’s Lost Million-Dollar Comic Book
Cage is a huge fan of comics and was devastated when his copy of the rare Action Comics #1 was stolen from his house in 2000. Nearly a decade later, a man bought an abandoned storage unit and found the comic.
The man had no idea what he was holding and took it to an appraiser who happened to be the same man who sold it to Cage in the first place.
Evidence Of A Murder
A man was bidding on a storage unit in Colorado when he noticed the unit had old police lights in it. When he finally got ownership of the unit, he found mountains of evidence, including a bloody rope, an axe, and blood-soaked socks.
He took the findings to the police and learned that the evidence was from the unsolved death of a 17-year-old girl named Candace Hiltz.
The King of Pop left behind a legacy, and his dad left behind some interesting things in a storage unit.
A Full Blown Meth Lab
Apparently, secret hidden meth labs aren’t just a thing on Breaking Bad. Two men bought a storage unit in Rancho Cordova, California for $80. They opened it to find a much more expensive operation.
The two men found pipes, beakers, gas masks, and chemicals. When they called the police, they found a 5-gallon drum in the back of the unit half-full of meth.
A Vintage Harley-Davidson Motorcycle
Finding any motorcycle would be great, but finding a vintage 1927 Harley-Davidson is even better. That’s what happened for a couple who bought a storage unit in Melbourne, Australia. The vintage motorcycle even came with a sidecar.
The couple had it refurbished and it sold for a nice little price tag of $424,000.
Long-Lost Michael Jackson Tunes
One lucky buyer of Joe Jackson’s personal storage unit stumbled upon a goldmine of Michael Jackson songs. Over 250 songs were discovered in the unit that were likely recorded by MJ when he was between contracts. That means the songs couldn’t be claimed by any record labels.
Some songs even featured other legendary singers like Tina Turner.
Who knew a newspaper could be so valuable? The person coming up couldn’t help falling in love with this rare find.
A Human Leg In A Smoker
A man in South Carolina opened a barbecue smoker to find a human leg. It sounds dark and twisted, but it turns out the leg wasn’t removed from a dead body.
A man named John Wood came forward and claimed the limb. Wood lost the leg in a plane crash that killed his father, so he embalmed it as a memory of his dad.
Abandoned Old Space Equipment
At a storage auction in Cape Canaveral, Florida, one man ended up with a unit that was out of this world. The abandoned unit had old NASA equipment stored in it, including an actual NASA rocket and a space shuttle countdown clock.
The equipment was stored there when the space program was underway and forgotten about it when the program folded.
Newspapers Announcing Elvis’ Death
Another rare find on Storage Wars came in 2010. The episode had one of the cast members buy a unit full of old newspapers. Luckily, the person had some patience and found one newspaper announcing the “King Elvis Dead.”
Experts estimated that the newspaper could fetch more than $100,000 at auction. Not a bad haul for the day.
Even celebrities default on their own storage unit payments, which makes them a treasure trove for fans.
An Entire Murdered Family
A man in Seattle bought a storage unit hoping to find some antiques, and instead, he opened the first box to find piles of clothes. He moved the clothes around and was hit with a terrible rotting stench. A little further digging led to a human skull.
The storage unit ended up holding the remains of Barbara Bender and her two sons. Her husband Mark ended up being arrested and he confessed to the killings.
Michael Jordan’s College Recruitment Letters
The man who bought an abandoned storage unit in North Carolina didn’t expect to find much. Instead, he found a treasure trove of multiple Michael Jordan documents.
Among them was the original recruitment letter for Michael to go play college basketball at the University of North Carolina. The document sold for $50,000.
Burt Reynolds’ Personal Memorabilia
Even celebrities don’t have enough space to hold all their stuff. In 1999, the man with the mustache defaulted on the units he owned and they went up for auction. Inside them were hundreds of memorabilia from his movies and television shows.
In a nice twist of fate, a group of fans came together to buy the units and started a Burt Reynolds museum with the contents.
Aretha Franklin’s Famous Dresses
After a devastating fire in her Detroit home, the Queen of Soul didn’t want to take any chances. She began storing her iconic stage outfits in a Michigan storage unit. Eventually, she stopped paying for the unit and it got sold to the highest bigger.
We’re sure they ended up turning a profit on that unit.
The photos found in the storage unit coming up might help solve a century-old mystery.
A Live Hand Grenade
It’s pretty common to find old guns or ammunition in abandoned storage lockers, but one man in Michigan found a live hand grenade. Luckily, the man knew what he saw and immediately called the police.
The entire bomb squad had to arrive on scene to remove the hand grenade. Hey, at least the rest of the unit’s contents didn’t go up in flames.
The Original Spiderman Comic
One of the few wins from a cast member of Storage Wars came back in 2010. Darrel Sheets paid $2,700 for a unit and ended up finding thousands of comics inside. Among the comics were the original Spiderman #1 and the original X-Men #1.
Darrell managed to sell the entire stash for $130,000.
Lost Photos Of Amelia Earhart
One lucky California woman stumbled onto a piece of history when she found never-before-seen photos of the famous missing aviator. Many experts said they could help them analyze the plane and clothing she was wearing ahead of her takeoff.
The photos ended up selling for more than $1,000 each at auction.
A Fake ID Operation
It’s one thing to buy an abandoned storage unit and find a fake ID. It’s another thing to find a floor covered in fake IDs and sensitive personal information. That’s exactly what happened for a Colorado man.
He took the evidence to the police and it soon came to light that a woman named Dawn Philbin and an accomplice had used the unit for an illegal ID operation.
President Truman’s Cane
Most storage unit auctions are blind, but the people selling this unit knew exactly what was inside. The storage unit belonged to a WW2 general and included authentic war documents and even a cane believed to be Harry Truman’s.
The unit sold for $27,000 and the contents inside totaled more than $100,000.
$1,100 is a pretty steep price for an abandoned storage unit, but it turned out to be a pretty penny for a San Jose man. Inside the unit, he found a large blue Rubbermaid tub.
The container held hundred of old Spanish coins and silver bars that ended up being worth more than half a million dollars.
A $34,000 Stamp
A lady up in Canada purchased an abandoned storage unit. The contents were mostly worthless except for a single stamp hidden away. The stamp was from 1851 and sold for 12 pence. On todays gripping stamp market, it sold for $34,000.
I’m impressed she even found a little stamp in the midst of a huge storage unit.
Why’d It Have To Be Snakes?
Lots of snakes were found in a storage unit in Arroyo Grande, California once. And when we say a lot, we mean a lot. In total, there were 42 ball pythons waiting to be discovered!
San Luis Obispo animal services showed up to the location after the facility called them about something unusual. To be clear, animals are not allowed to be held in storage units, so not only is this discovery creepy, it’s also illegal!
A Not So Criminal Mastermind
Here’s one for the Darwin Awards. Ronald Dennis was trying to burglarize a storage unit in Missouri in 2011 when he locked himself inside. You can imagine how embarrassed he was when police showed up!
His attempted crime was ultimately thwarted when when a security guard called the cops because noises were coming from a unit he had closed earlier. When asked about apprehending the crook, the remarked that it was kind of like opening a Christmas present.
Guy Fieri’s Car
Guy Fieri made national headlines in 2012 when he reported his prized yellow Lamborghini was missing. Can you guess where the car was found? The answer, obviously, was in a storage unity.
Strangely enough, San Francisco police found the car while searching a unit owned by a 17-year-old accused of murder! After his car was returned safe and sound, Fieri couldn’t help but crack a food joke, “I’m glad we can put this behind us, and feel better knowing that justice is being served.”
A NASA Rocket
While filming an episode of Auction Hunters, the winning bidders on one storage unit in Miami found a NASA rocket and countdown clock. The duo of Clinton Jones and Allen Haff won the fruitful storage unit for $1,500.
While this discovery might seem incredibly odd, it is important to point out that the storage facility was located near Cap Canaveral. As one of the unit’s new owners said, “Only in South Florida can you find so much space loot in one room.”
We seriously can’t make this up. Preserved brains were discovered in the storage unit of someone named Dr. Berkland when it was auctioned off. The good doctor, for whatever reasons, had ten brains in jars, as well as other body parts.
Dr. Berkland was a medical examiner and reportedly harvested the parts during private autopsies. We don’t want to know why exactly Dr. Berkland was keeping prizes of his work, so we’re just going to leave well enough alone.
Not just any Bugatti, a rare 1937 Bugatti 57S valued at $9 million was found in 2009. The car, one of the original supercars, had been hiding in storage for nearly half a century.
The rare beast was uncovered after the owner, Harold Carr, passed away. Going through his leftover belongings, his nephew uncovered the car in the unit. Now, unless he’s holding onto the car for nostalgic reasons, he never has to work again.
If you grew up in the ’80s, there’s a good chance you remember the show Knight Rider. The program followed Michael Knight as he solved crimes with the help of his supercar named K.I.T.T.
Workers at a storage facility in the United Kingdom were left shocked one day when a person drove up in K.IT.T. and put the famous car in storage. We guess it’s kind of like keeping cards in mint condition by putting sleeves over them.
Okay, Madonna’s super creepy stalker wasn’t actually found in a storage unit in 2012. His very creepy belongings were! Robert Dewey was arrested for threatening the pop stars life after escaping a mental institution in Long Beach, California.
When his storage unit was auctioned off, the buyer found a Barbie backpack, knives, Madonna memorabilia, a scary clown mask, and a headless doll. Let’s all be very thankful Mr. Dewey was arrested and is no longer a threat to the Queen of pop.
A Man In A Cage
We really hope this one was staged for television. On one episode of the show Storage Wars, a unit was opened revealing a man in a cage. Before you assume anything, we can confirm he was alive!
With this strange man were letters that had been written to him. Thankfully, after he was discovered, he was free from his double storage prison. Did he thank anyone? Nope, he ran away down the street. Did we mention he wasn’t wearing any clothes?
Urns With Ashes
This one makes us sad. Bill Smith couldn’t believe what he found in Nevada after placing the winning bid on a storage unit; urns full of human ashes. It would be one thing if there was one urn, but it wasn’t.
Smith found 27 urns. The previous owner was April Parks. She helped elderly people make legal and financial decisions. She also stored their ashes after they passed instead of looking for their next of kin.
A Flamingo Lamp
Let’s lighten the mood. This one is just flat out ridiculous, but true. In one storage unit the winning bidders found a lamp made in the shape of a flamingo. Just picture it in your head for a moment.
The lamp was pink floor lamp with a match pink lamp shade. And the best part? The shade rested on the head of a flamingo! Not a living flamingo, although at this point that would not have surprised us.
One storage unit revealed stuffed cats. And not cute stuffed animals that used to be cuddle partners for kids. We mean taxidermied cats. Thats… not right. Whoever owned this unit was smart to let it go.
To be fair, lots of people turn to taxidermists when their beloved pets pass onto the next life. It can be incredibly hard to let go, and a picture hanging on the wall just isn’t enough for everyone. We’re not passing judgement.
Rotting Hamburger Meat
And now we’re never eating hamburgers again! After one storage unit was auctioned off, the winning bidder found an old refrigerator. Okay, that’s not too bad on its own account. When they opened the fridge, though, they got quite the surprise.
Inside the fridge was rotting hamburger meat. Whoever was storing this meat for another time must not have realized fridges don’t work without a power source. They need to be plugged in, then left empty for 24 hours to get to temperature.
A Skunky Fur Coat
You probably don’t think it’s very surprising to find a fur coat in a storage unit, but this was not your normal fur coat. Whoever had it made must not have liked the final result very much.
The coat was made to resemble a skunk. It was dyed black with a white line going down the middle of the back of it. Was it part of a couples costume for the cartoon skunk and the female cat he’s always chasing around?
A Locked Box
This one was one of the great storage unit mysteries of all-time. Whoever won it at auction wasn’t expecting to find a locked box. Searching around, they must have been desperate to find the key.
Luckily, said key was sitting on the floor near the box. When they opened they got a real surprise. Locked inside the box, for some reason, was a single rubber mouse. This may just be the world’s worst prank ever.
A Hidden Diamond Ring
One auction got extremely lucky when they began searching through an antique roll desk in their unit. After enough poking and prodding they found a hidden compartment. Inside that compartment was a diamond ring.
How’s that for a great return on investment. Normally you don’t find much value when you place the winning bid on a unit. In this case, the buyer literally found a diamond in the rough! We wonder how much they sold the ring for!
A Dinner Set Up
Luckily no rotting food was found on the table of this makeshift storage unit dining room. When the unit was open, they found four wooden chairs placed perfectly around a kitchen table.
Oddly enough, the legs of the kitchen table has been cut off, so it was resting on the chairs. Truly an odd scene, and one we hope was void of dinner parties. How many guests could one storage unit possibly hold?
A Box Of Left Shoes
Again, this discovery would seem fairly innocuous until you take a closer look. Inside one unit was a box full of men’s shoes. There were shoes of every kind, from athletic shoes to cocktail shoes.
What made this find particularly strange was that the shoes weren’t in pairs. There was one of each shoes, and they were all left shoes. Just think, there might be someone roaming around the country with a very cold left foot!
A Beautiful Painting
Another find in one storage unit only led to a bigger mystery. The winning bidder opened the unit to find a beautiful painting of a hillside. Upon closer inspection, however, they found much, much more.
Hidden in the corner of the painting was a key. But what does the key open? Was there a box in the unit? A map to find treasure that can only be unlocked with the hillside painting key? We need to know!
A Saxophone Full Of Money
We don’t know why anyone would hide money in their saxophone, then hide the saxophone in a storage unit, but someone did. Then they stopped paying for their unit and it became available for the public to bid on.
The only thing we need to know is how much money was in the instrument? Was it enough to pay for the winning bid? Probably, considering it was reported to be several hundred dollar bills buried inside!