Ton Jones is a veteran of the storage auction circuit. He is also the co-host of Spike TV's new unscripted series, Auction Hunters, premiering tonight at 10PM/9C with back-to-back episodes following 1000 Ways to Die at its new time, 9:30PM/8:30C.
With each auction you take on a gamble, and that gamble is whether or not you'll find what Ton calls the "golden room." You can win an auction for $1 and find five grand in antiques and rarities inside a storage unit, or you can spend five grand and find a room filled with old newspapers and cheap toys. Like we said, it's a gamble, but it's that "dream" item that keeps you going. Here are some of the dream items that keep us going.
DeLorean (sans Time Machine)
Source: Micelotta/Getty Images Entertainment
Recently, we as a moviegoing nation celebrated the 25th anniversary celebration of the release of Back to the Future. Universal released the film on Blu-Ray and we all finally got to see those Eric Stoltz scenes that Steven Spielberg once famously told Robert Zemeckis to burn. This doesn't take away from the fact that this one film managed to resurrect what was a mostly reviled automobile made out of tin and turn it into an icon of epic proportions on par with K.I.T.T., the General Lee, and of course, the A-Team van (basically anything with four wheels that came out of the '80s). Only nine thousand were made, and the life of the legendary DMC-12 model was sadly short-lived. Production got underway in 1981 just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland (an ideal location for a business in the early '80s), only to have the motor company go bankrupt in 1982 when owner John DeLorean was brought up on drug trafficking charges. DeLorean (the guy, not the car) was later found not guilty. The DeLorean's unique history makes it a rare breed for certain, and believe us, if you opened up a storage garage and found one of these bad boys, you'd be wondering what happens when you hit 88mph.
Proof Who Shot JFK
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We've all seen the Zapruder film. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was riding with First Lady, Jackie, through Dealey Plaza and was the victim of multiple gunshot wounds shot from a high-powered rifle armed by Lee Harvey Oswald. That's what we were told, and that's what the Warren Commission rammed down our throats, but for nearly 50 years there have been more than a fair share of conspiracy theories. In recent years, thanks in part to the splendidly controversial Oliver Stone, the burden of proof has remained firmly on the state to show us what was going on behind that grassy knoll. Was it the CIA? Was it the mafia? Was it the New York Yankees? We'll never know until we see that other angle, the one Zapruder didn't show us. So keep hitting up those Texas storage auctions, because maybe someone just so happened to film that "something" we weren't meant to see.
Steamboat Willie Animation Cel
Source: Kirkland/Film Major/Getty Images
Walt Disney released his famed animation short on November 18, 1928. Now don't get confused, this wasn't Mickey Mouse's first on-screen appearance. He appeared six months earlier in Plane Crazy and also showed up in the short The Gallopin' Gaucho, which though released later was also made before Steamboat. So why all the hubbub over a movie about a mouse on a riverboat? One word: SOUND. Full-sync sound (music, dialogue, sound effects) made this short the first of it's kind and well, after Walt Disney died in 1966, anything created by the legend became quite the collector's item going for tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands. The film itself is now available on DVD, but does anyone really care about DVDs anymore?
Iron Man MK VIII Armor
Robert Downey, Jr. helped introduce what was essentially a B-level Marvel superhero to the world a few years ago. Now Iron Man (both the man and the movie) kick ass. After all, Downey fit the role of a washed out, philandering, drunk like a suit...an iron suit, that is. During the nearly 50 years of the character's existence, Iron Man has had many different metallic outfits. The most recent and most identifiable is the Iron Man MK VIII. This version has been around since 1988, when in the comic books he took on the government assassin Firepower. It added into the mix a gauntlet-generated energy shield, more powerful boosters to increase speed, and it also radically reduced Iron Man's need for external power by boosting his own offensive output. Of course, Tony Stark always feared that the suit would fall into the wrong hands and threatened to destroy it. It hasn't landed in a storage unit yet, but there's always that chance. Tony Stark could build a new suit or he just might fall off the wagon. Either way, his loss equals your gain.
Michael Jackson's Other White Glove
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In 1984, the King of Pop went on his famed "Victory" tour and he rocked his soon-to-be signature sequined white glove. From his ill-fated Pepsi commercial to his appearances on MTV's Video Music Awards, Jackson was never left without his hand garment. Since his passing in 2009 however, many of his personal items have gone up for auction including the aforementioned white glove. It ended up selling this past June for a stately sum of $190,000 in Las Vegas. The bigger question is and always has been, where is the other glove? Since several of Jackson's items have previously been left behind in storage, it's not outside the realm of possibility that the left-handed glove is out there, somewhere. Now just imagine opening up a storage unit and finding that missing glove. Not only will you be solving a nearly three-decade-old mystery, but you'll be making six figures. Suddenly, a storage auction seems like a pretty good way to spend an afternoon.
Proof of Alien Intelligence
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Imagine hitting up a storage auction just outside of Roswell, New Mexico and what you right find. Sure, it's not actually Area 51, but it might be a fair bet that some old codger just outside Groom Lake managed to scoop up some of that "weather balloon" during the '50s and slipped it into his garage only to be shepherded from storage bin to storage bin over the years. Ultimately, this one of a kind discovery could find it's way into a local storage auction and into your pocket. Crazy? Not as crazy as you think. That is, of course, unless you're not a believer, and you should be 'cause aliens are cool. If you are though, the real question is: what are you going to do with this priceless artifact? If this were the 90's you could sell it off to FOX as a reality special, but now you're probably just better off optioning it as a movie to Hollywood. Aliens are the new vampires after all.
The Money Room
Source: Wikimedia Commons
We went back and forth on this one. Sure, a room full of gold bars sounds great. In fact, it's sorta why Ton calls it the "golden room," but do you really want to deal with all that weight? Your average gold bar weighs 400 Troy ounces or 27.5 lbs. Think about all that heavy lifting, and it's not like you're going to let anyone else touch or move your gold for you or even swim in it. Just look at Scrooge McDuck. That guy swam in his gold and nearly went insane with greed, that is until he was visited by three ghosts. Oh, wait, that was a different Scrooge. In either case, money's the way to go and if you're at all concerned about inflation, then just invest those Brewster's millions in Netflix stock. You'll be better for it.
To hear true stories of storage auction success, follow Ton Jones and Allen Haff tonight on the back-to-back episode premiere of Auction Hunters at 10PM/9C after an all-new 1000 Ways to Die at 9:30PM/8:30C.