Storage units an interesting investment for purchasers

Storage units an interesting investment for purchasers

A few tidbits to get you caught up on collecting news:

— Some storage units have become the main attractions on television. I am sure the laws are different in every state, but basically it comes down to the fact that if you do not pay your rent, it is the storage space owner's right to achieve reimbursement by selling the contents.

I have been to a couple of these locally. They have a sparse crowd, and the units have gone from a few hundred dollars to $1,000-$2,000. My first question is always what prevents the owners of the storage units from looking for valuables before the public auction or sale?

My Sept. 16 issue of Antique Weekly has a piece by Robert Kyle, who details events where three bodies were found in three different storage units. I wonder how those successful bidders felt when they found those dead people!

On the bright side, however, one buyer found a Lotus Espirit, a submarine car from a James Bond movie that he purchased for only $100 — which he later sold for more than $900,000 at auction.

In San Jose, Calif., a bidder paid $1,100 for a unit that contained rare coins and lots of gold and silver that turned out to be worth $500,000.

My October issue of the same publication had stories on auctions of Bob Hope's and Phyllis Diller's estates. Both events brought far higher final bids than predicted in advance. Both Hope and Diller owned oil paintings of clowns by Red Skelton, and both brought far more than predicted.

Both auctions were held by Julien's, and a 25 percent buyer's premium was added on all items. If you want the results of auctions, you can order a catalog at

It is amazing how much these sales bring from departed celebrities; in some cases, they make more money dead than they did when they were alive.

— I recently moved to a new warehouse, and during the move, I found two watercolors of nudes signed by Mary Lou Markland, the mother of former Urbana Mayor Jeff Markland. What do you suppose those are worth now?

— On Oct. 26, the Keelers, owners of the Cache Resale Shop in Villa Grove, will auction the contents of their store. They are retiring and moving.

Good antiquing!

Bob Swisher has been a collector since he was a child. Questions or comments can be sent to Swisher by writing to The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-677 or emailing

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