Goodwill hunting: cllct ranks Top 10 finds at thrift store

Goodwill has helped produce some of the greatest collectible flips ever

Cover Image for Goodwill hunting: cllct ranks Top 10 finds at thrift store
Treasures from across the country have been found in Goodwill stores (Credit: Getty Images)

If you go onto Goodwill’s website, you’ll see the incredibly timely slogan: You never know what you might find.

After a 1953 Ernie Banks era Cubs jacket was found in an Oregon Goodwill store, cllct is counting down the top 10 finds in Goodwill history.

1. Flemish oil painting: Bought for $3, sold for $190,000

In 2012, an 81-year-old man walked into a South Carolina Goodwill and walked out with a $3 oil painting because he thought it might earn him $50 or $100 on eBay.

Multiply those numbers ... by a lot. The Flemish painting was 362 years old at the time, and the man sold it at an auction in Massachusetts for $190,000. I guess the Flemish know how to paint.

2. Augusta National Green Jacket: Bought for $5, sold for $139,000

Whose jacket was found hanging in a Toronto Goodwill? That, we might never know. What we do know is that the authentic Augusta National Green Jacket is from the 1950s and was purchased for $5 in 1994.

No one is sure who the Green Jacket belonged to, but it's from the 1950s (Credit: Green Jacket Auctions)
No one is sure who the Green Jacket belonged to, but it's from the 1950s (Credit: Green Jacket Auctions)

How did it end up in Toronto? That, we might also never know. What we do know is that it sold for $139,000 in 2017. Quite a return on investment.

3. Carlo Scarpa vase: Bought for $3.99, sold for $107,000

When Jessica Vincent bought a vase from Goodwill she never intended on selling it. She thought it would look “beautiful” in her house somewhere.

The vase wound up being a 1942 creation from Italian glass designer Carlo Scarpa, and perhaps the only decision smarter that Vincent made than purchasing the vase in the first place was not selling it initially, despite a $10,000 offer. She wound up with more than 10 times that amount.

4. Vince Lombardi sweater: Bought for $0.58, sold for $43,020

Sean and Rikki McEvoy purchased a West Point sweater from a Goodwill in Ashville, North Carolina, for just 58 cents.

Later the couple happened to watch a documentary on legendary Packers coach Vince Lombari when they recognized the historic item.

Vince Lombardi was a West Point assistant coach from 1949-53 (Credit: Getty)
Vince Lombardi was a West Point assistant coach from 1949-53 (Credit: Getty)

After realizing the match, the pair discovered Lombardi’s name written inside and later sold it for $43,020. We’re guessing they’re Packers fans now.

5. 1959 LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm Watch: Bought for $5.99, sold for $35,000

When Zach Norris saw the name “LeCoultre” on the watch at a Goodwill in Phoenix, he knew it was worth more than the $5.99 it was listed at.

Did he know he’d sell it for $35,000? Nope. The watch wound up being 56 years old and earned Norris a pretty payday.

6. Vertical Diamond painting: Bought for $9.99, sold for $34,375

Beth Feeback didn't even really like the painting. She reportedly planned on simply using the canvas to paint cat portraits.

Good thing she didn’t.

Feeback sold the famous “Vertical Diamond” from Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-1981) for $34,375. She can buy so many canvases for cat portraits now.

7. Possible Ernie Banks Cubs jacket: Bought for $8.70, expected to sell for over $20,000

This is just your everyday high school story. Student goes into a thrift store and walks out with a 1953 Cubs jacket that might or might not have belonged to one of the greatest baseball players ever.

It pays to frequently thrift, as Jack Ricketts says he does.

Read all about this here.

8. Jawa “Star Wars” figures: Listed price isn’t known, sold for $19,201

“Star Wars” has been all the rage the last few weeks, especially with May 4. Not only does the franchise dominate the box office, it dominates collectibles.

And these Jawa figurines are two of the most expensive items ever sold at Goodwill.

9. Lego Bionicle Kanohi Hau mask: Listed at $14.95, sold for $18,101

The one-inch tall Bionicle mask was found in a bag of jewelry. Oh, and it happens to be 14-karat gold.

Lego created just 30 of these masks in a 2001 giveaway. Bionicles are different from just about any other Lego while much more closely resembling action figures. Of the 30 masks, 25 were reportedly given away and five remained with Lego employees.

The mask is the most expensive Lego piece ever sold.

10. Ancient Roman bust: Bought for $34.99, donated

Can you imagine walking into a Goodwill and leaving with a sculpture that is quite literally 2,000 years old from the Roman Empire?

How often do you think about the Roman Empire? I would every day if I found this bust.

Art collector Laura Young found the sculpture in an Austin Goodwill and purchased it for just $34.99. After extensive research, she eventually donated the piece, but did receive a finder’s fee.

If she had sold it, she would be much higher on this list.

Matt Liberman is a reporter and video producer for cllct.