Accidental Discoveries: The Incredible Lost Treasures That Were Found By Chance

From a $2 thrift store find to a $10 million gold rush, treasure can be found in the strangest of places. From ancient scrolls to lost paintings, it’s amazing what can be found with a bit of luck and a lot of persistence. Whether you’re out in the wild or renovating your home, you never know what you might find. Keep reading to learn more about these unbelievable discoveries.

Marie’s Hidden Jewels

Marie Antoinette was a step ahead of the revolutionaries, as she had the foresight to hide her jewels from them.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

She sent her most expensive pieces to her nephew, and they were kept hidden for years. Now, centuries later, a descendent has found them and is auctioning them off in remarkably good condition.

Lost Bible Scrolls Found

In 1947, a group of young herders tending their flock lost one of their goats, which ran into a nearby cave. One of the boys followed the goat and found an ancient clay pot containing scrolls, which were later revealed to be some of the earliest known pieces of the Bible.

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images
Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

He sold the scrolls for a small sum, not knowing their true value, only to discover they were worth millions later.

Pollock Painting Found in Thrift Shop

Teri Horton found a painting in a thrift shop in San Bernardino, California and paid only $5 for it. When an art teacher came by to see it, they realized it was an authentic Jackson Pollock painting.

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Carl Court/Getty Images
Carl Court/Getty Images

Despite her initial plans to sell it, Teri decided to keep the valuable piece of art.

Norman Rockwell Found

A painting worth $15 million by Norman Rockwell had been missing for years, until it was discovered by the sons of cartoonist Don Trachte Jr. hidden behind a fake wall in their father’s house. It seems that their father had hidden the painting in order to prevent his wife from taking it during their divorce in 1970.

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Getty Images
Getty Images

The painting, titled “Saying Grace,” was created in 1951 and was sold to a private collector in 2013.

Valuable Painting Found

For years, an Indiana family had a small painting of Martin Johnson Heade that they used to cover a hole in their wall.

Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Image
Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Image

One day, they realized its value after playing an art-inspired board game and sold it to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for an impressive $1.25 million.

$3 Million Attic Find

Karl Kissner discovered a treasure trove of vintage baseball cards in his grandfather’s attic in 2011. The cards were unlike any he had ever seen before, and when they were auctioned off at a collector’s convention, they sold for a whopping $3 million.

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Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

It was a dream come true for the Kissner family, and a reminder that baseball cards can be a valuable investment.

Lost Caravaggio Found

Marc Labarbe, a French auctioneer, received an unexpected call from a friend who had discovered a painting in their attic. Labarbe contacted an art appraiser who identified it as a lost work from the Italian master Caravaggio, titled Judith and Holofernes.

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Getty Images
Getty Images

The painting, believed to have been painted in 1607, is estimated to be worth up to $171 million.

$2.7 Million Find

A British farmer lost his hammer one day and enlisted his friend Eric Lawes to help him find it with a metal detector.

CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images
CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images

To their surprise, they discovered a hoard of 565 gold and 14,191 silver coins. The British Museum purchased the coins, rewarding the two with a staggering $2.7 million.

Derinkuyu: Uncovering History

Turkey is a land of history and mystery. It is home to some of the oldest civilizations, including the Derinkuyu City. This underground city is 18 stories deep and was capable of housing up to 20,000 people.

Claudio Beduschi/AGF/UIG via Getty Images
Claudio Beduschi/AGF/UIG via Getty Images

It was discovered by accident when a man was renovating his home and knocked down a wall, revealing a secret passageway that led to the ancient city.

Terracotta Army Found

In 1927, a group of Chinese farmers made a remarkable discovery while digging a well – the head of a life-size terracotta soldier. Further excavation revealed that the head was attached to a full-size body, and this was in fact the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Tao Zhang/Getty Images
Tao Zhang/Getty Images

The Emperor had thousands of terracotta statues made to protect his grave in the afterlife, making this one of the greatest archaeological finds of all time.

Man Finds $175K Comic

A copy of Action Comics #1, the comic book featuring Superman’s first appearance in print, was discovered in the walls of a Minnesota home. It was in remarkable condition despite the accidental ripping of the back cover, and was sold for an impressive $175,000.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

With only about 50 known copies of this comic book in the world, the find was an extraordinary stroke of luck.

Exploring Lascaux Cave

In 1940, 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat and three friends stumbled upon the Lascaux Cave in southwestern France. Inside, they discovered the oldest known cave paintings depicting people, animals, and war, estimated to be over 17,000 years old.

Pierre BRIOLLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Pierre BRIOLLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The discovery of the cave was an incredible find and has since been studied by archeologists and historians to learn more about the history of mankind.

Uncovering the Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is a slab of black basalt discovered in 1799 by French soldiers expanding a fort in Egypt. It is a significant archaeological find as it contains the same text written in three ancient languages: Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script, and Greek.

Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images
Juan Naharro Gimenez/Getty Images

This enabled scholars to finally decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs and unlock the secrets of ancient Egypt. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone changed history and provided a key to understanding the ancient world.

Bronze Age Gold Cup

Cliff Bradshaw was metal detecting in the British countryside when he found a dented gold cup. It was determined to be from the Bronze Age, around 2300 BCE.

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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This discovery led to the uncovering of a funeral complex, which was a major archaeological find.

The Discovery Of The Venus De Milo

A farmer in the late 1700s stumbled upon a no-armed statue while digging for stones to build a wall. Well, that statue turned out to be the Venus De Milo!

Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Francois LOCHON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

With the help of a French naval officer, the statue was excavated and brought back to France, where it is now displayed in the Louvre Museum.

$477,650 Thrift Find

A man from Nashville bought a seemingly modern replication of the Declaration of Independence at a thrift show for only $2.48.

Chris Hondros/Newsmakers/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Newsmakers/Getty Images

After further inspection, it was revealed to be one of the 200 original copies of the Declaration of Independence, and it was sold at auction for an astonishing $477,650.

Hidden Fortune Found

Amanda Reece was surprised when she and her contractor uncovered two green metal boxes hidden in the wall while renovating her bathroom. Inside were stacks of rare American currency bills from the 1920s, valued at an impressive $180,000.

Bettman//Contributor/Getty Images
Bettman//Contributor/Getty Images

This unexpected find more than covered the cost of the rest of the house renovation.

$10M Gold Rush

A married couple in Northern California had a stroke of luck when they stumbled upon a pot containing 1,427 coins from the original California Gold Rush.

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Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The coins were in mint condition and sold for an incredible $10 million, reminding us of the potential rewards of the original gold rush.

Lost Gold Found

In 1949, two brothers, the Deikovs, were working in a clay pit near the town of Panagyurishte, Bulgaria, when they discovered a dish, amphora, and other pieces made of gold. After further investigation, the brothers had discovered an incredible find – over 13,000 lbs of solid gold treasure from the 3rd century BCE.

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images
DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

This incredible discovery has since been referred to as the Panagyurishte Treasure.

$4M Pendant Found

Paul Kingston and Ted Seaton were out for a walk in Middleham, England when they stumbled upon a small gold pendant with a nativity scene carved into it and a large sapphire set on top.

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Heritage Images/Getty Images
Heritage Images/Getty Images

After taking it to the Yorkshire Museum for evaluation, it was purchased for $4 million. The two friends were shocked and delighted by their discovery.

Plato’s Lyceum Found

The Lyceum was an important part of Western history, founded by Plato in the 4th century BC. It was the first Western-style university and a major center for philosophical studies. After being lost for centuries, the remains of the building were discovered in 1997 beneath an unpaved parking lot. Archaeologists confirmed it was the same school where Plato and Aristotle had studied.

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Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images
Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images

Today, the site has been turned into an outdoor museum, allowing visitors to explore the remains of the Lyceum and learn about its history.