It's amazing what you can find when you least expect it! Here are some incredible discoveries and coincidences that left us gobsmacked.
1. Cash stash
A derelict bungalow at Strete Mount, a development of properties which once housed elderly people in Christchurch, Dorset, was being used by firefighters in a training exercise. They were just about to set the place ablaze on 17 March 2015 when they found £90,000 hidden under a bed! The property had been empty for 18 months, but owners Sovereign Housing said they’d work with police to try and establish the owner. One firefighter described the discovery as ‘a jaw-dropping moment!’
2. Charlie’s NOT your darling!
Antique enthusiast Morace Park from Essex was looking on eBay and saw an item listed as ‘old film’. Liking the look of the tin it was in, Morace paid a hefty £3.20 for it. The contents of the bashed-up container turned out to be an unknown movie by legendary film star Charlie Chaplin. The film, called Zepped, was a first-world war propaganda piece. It was thought the movie might fetch a six-figure sum, however, at an auction in June 2011, the 35mm nitrate film only attracted one bid at a Bonham’s auction and failed to sell. At least Morace still has the tin he was first drawn to!
3. Take notes!
A photographer, known only as Dave of Freaktography, went into an abandoned house in Ontario, Canada to take some shots. The home had been neglected for years, but there was a wedding photo amongst the rubble and clothes still in the wardrobe. It seems the house had been left in a hurry. Even more so, when Dave came across rolls of US and Canadian dollars marked with the amount and date. The money had been collected during the 60s and the 70s. It was hidden under the mattress with a value of $6,800. He managed to track down a relative of the previous residents and left a message. Nervous, the woman agreed to meet Dave. It turned out the home belonged to the woman’s grandmother. She came to collect the money, and was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing both her mother’s childhood home – and at having a stranger hand over almost $7,000!
4. Reunited with Percy…
David Allinson from Henlow, Beds, was distraught when his 5-year-old cat Percy disappeared in 2003. But, incredibly, 10 years later, he was reunited with Percy, who’d been living just 15 miles away. David had put posters up in 20-mile radius of his home and placed ads in his local paper. But, despite being micro-chipped, Percy was never found, as he was living with an elderly lady in a neighbouring village. In a bizarre twist, when the lady passed away, her neighbour, Ruth Hart, started looking after Percy. Ruth happened to be a colleague of David’s, but didn’t know Percy was his. She mentioned the cat to David, and, after checking a microchip database, the pair realised the cat was Percy! But at 15 years old, Percy was settled with Ruth, so David made do with monthly visits to see his beloved moggy. David said, ‘To know Percy is safe and happy is enough for me after all the years of worry.’
5. Flea in her ear!
A woman in West Virginia bought a £5 box of junk at a flea market because she liked a doll that was in it. There was also a painting in the box and she quite liked the frame. But she had it valued at the Potomack Company auction house. Anne Norton Craner examined it and it matched it to a painting in a catalogue of Renior’s On the Banks of the Seine. Further investigation by the National Gallery of Art in Washington and confirmation by a Renior expert confirmed the hunch, and the painting was valued between £50,000 and £70,000! However, the painting had a history. It’s believed Renior painted it for his mistress. It was later purchased by the Paris art gallery Bernheim-Jeune. Then in 1926, Herbert L May bought it from the Paris gallery. In 1937, May’s ex-wife, Saidie May, loaned the painting to the Baltimore Museum of Art, which reported it stolen in 1951. For 60 years, the painting’s whereabouts are unknown… Fast forward to our lady buying it from a West Virginia flea market! The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, believed the painting to be rightfully hers. However, the Baltimore Museum of Art wanted the Renior returned. So the FBI took possession of the painting, until the rightful owner could be determined. Then, last January, US District Judge Leonie M Brinkema in Alexandria, decided that the painting must be returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art.