People have a tendency to collect things. Whether it’s items of sentimental value, little knick-knacks, or simply small things we find fascinating, humans can collect and store things to the point where they don’t even realize their true worth.
That’s what happened to a man named L.T. who collected a valuable treasure years ago and found out what it was worth right when he needed it most.
In a video uploaded to the Bird Plan YouTube channel, L.T. begins his incredible story, explaining that his foot had been crushed when he was involved in a car accident. As a result of the crash, he suffered a metatarsal pressure ulcer which ultimately caused a deep infection and resulted in him losing his foot. L.T. explains that after this accident, he had financial difficulties, only receiving a small, $800 disability check to help make ends meet.
One day, while L.T. was at home, he was watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow where an older man was getting a blanket appraised.
The blanket, described by the television appraiser as a “first-phase Navajo Chief blanket”, was said to be worth an extraordinary $350,000 to $500,000.
L.T., who owned a very similar blanket, was in complete shock.
“[The blanket] looks just like it,” he explained. “I’m holding it up, holding it up to the TV. But I never thought mine would be worth anything close to that. I mean, maybe it might be worth $10,000, $15,000.”
According to PBS, the Navajo native tribe began making its own wool in the mid-17th century. As this wool industry progressed, the Navajo eventually became one of the most skilled weavers of the time, even surpassing the famous Spanish and Pueblo craftsmen. The Navajo’s tight blankets were weaved so tightly they were “practically waterproof”, and they became known as “Chief blankets” as a result of their extravagant price.
An expert in Navajo weavings explains to PBS that in 1860, “Guys are making $5 a week if they’re lucky, about half that if they’re blue collar.” The price of a Navajo blanket in that time? Anywhere between $100 and $150 dollars. “First-phase” blankets are the earliest style of Navajo Chief blankets and are easily identified by their simple, striped design. According to experts, the value of first-phase blankets is a result of their rarity—less than 50 have survived the trials of time.
Despite the value of authentic Navajo Chief blankets, not even auctioneers could have guessed that L.T’s first-phase Navajo blanket would sell for OVER ONE MILLION DOLLARS, making his a rags-to-riches story of a lifetime.