Storage unit auctions are a bit like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.
If you’ve been to your share of storage locker auctions, you’ll know you can expect anything from the unthinkably weird to the surprisingly wonderful.
Buyers of abandoned storage units for sale have been known to inherit valuable artwork, celebrity items, and even cold, hard cash – if they’re lucky. The not-so-lucky buyers have stumbled upon more unsavoury items – from murder evidence to meth labs. (As you could probably guess, both are prohibited in National Storage centres, along with these unwelcome items.)
Whether you’re interested in trying your luck at storage unit auctions or you’re just really into reading up about weird stuff (who isn’t?), we’ve compiled 8 interesting finds from abandoned storage units to give you an idea of what you might expect when buying old storage units for sale.
Top 8 Interesting Finds from Abandoned Storage Unit Auctions
Wondering what awaits you on the other side of the roller-door? These are among some of the most interesting finds from abandoned storage units.
1. An Unopened Safe
Michael de Hass of YouTube Channel Storage Auction Pirates spends his time buying abandoned storage units in the hopes of striking gold. His lucky day arrived in 2012 when he paid US$800 for a unit and found an unopened safe inside – filled with US$26,420 cash! Not a bad return on investment.
2. An Even Better Unopened Safe
Not to steal Michael’s thunder, but his find seems like chump-change in comparison to the US$7.5 million cash found in an abandoned storage unit in 2018. The man bought the unit from a Storage Wars star for just US$500. The cash was stacked up in a safe inside the unit, thought to be “mafia or drug cartel-related” money. The lucky buyer chose to remain anonymous (and we don’t blame him).
3. Rare Comic Book
In 2011, the winner of a storage unit auction in California stumbled upon a near-mint condition copy of Action Comics #1 inside, which he then sold for over two million dollars. Interestingly enough, the comic book was previously owned by Nicholas Cage, who bought it in 1997 for $150,000 and reported it stolen in 2000.
4. Original Amelia Earhart Photos
OK, not technically inherited via storage unit auction, but pretty dang cool nonetheless. 18 original, never-published photos of Amelia Earhart were found by a Californian woman when cleaning out her storage unit in 2011. She inherited the box of photos from her mother who had passed.
The woman believed the photos were gifted to her mother from Amelia herself. They were expected to bring in US$1,000 each at auction, but without a sale price released online, we can only guess how much she made from the priceless photos.
5. Meth Lab
Many people head to storage unit auctions expecting to find some old junk they might be able to sell online, or maybe some trading cards they can hold onto in the hopes of making a small fortune in the future. Not many people expect to inherit an old meth lab. But a man and his nephew got exactly that when they bought an abandoned storage unit for $80 in California in 2015. A hazmat team was called in for clean-up duty.
6. Michael Jordan’s Recruitment Letters
A man got lucky at a storage locker auction when he got his hands on some interesting documents inside his buy. The locker was home to two of Michael Jordan’s recruitment letters, which were later auctioned and sold for over US$50,000. Talk about a slam dunk!
7. ID-Theft Business
Brandon Michael bought an abandoned storage unit at auction in 2009 and was keen to see what loot he might find inside. His excitement quickly turned to shock when he found hundreds of US passports, birth certificates, driver’s licences, Social Security cards, and a printer used to make counterfeit documents. He alerted the police immediately.
8. Human Ashes
Bill Smith participated in storage unit auctions as a hobby for over 20 years before he found something really strange in a Nevada storage unit in 2017. The abandoned storage unit had 27 urns filled with human ashes – but we can explain. The unit was previously owned by a court-appointed guardian who became responsible for her wards when they passed away. But instead of finding their families to pass on their ashes, she just kept them in the storage unit.
If you’re into trawling for stuff to sell, check out our guide to kerbside collection. Your lucky find could be just around the corner!
Abandoned Storage Units FAQs
Do these weird and wonderful finds make you want to get your hands on an abandoned storage unit? Discover the ins and outs of storage unit auctions below.
How to buy abandoned storage units?
You can bid on abandoned storage units either onsite or online with participating companies. National Storage holds occasional online storage unit auctions with iBidOnStorage.
How long does a storage unit need to be abandoned?
Don’t worry – we won’t go selling your stuff from your storage unit without plenty of warning. Our auctions are only held in the most extreme non-payment cases. Customers are contacted numerous times in regard to their payments, and if there is no response, their items may eventually be auctioned.
Where are storage unit auctions held?
National Storage holds storage unit auctions online with iBidOnStorage, where you can filter your search by state and city to find nearby abandoned storage units for sale.