10 Expensive Things People Threw Away as Trash

by Rishika Jain11 months ago

6 Confidential blueprints of the soon-to-be-built Freedom Tower found in a garbage dump in New York City.

Freedom tower
Freedom Tower

Let’s take you back to the one fine day in 2008 when the secure and confidential documents of the Freedom Tower were found by a homeless man in New York City stashed in a bin. They were the two sets of confidential 150-page blueprints of the soon-to-be-built Freedom Tower. The Freedom Tower was set to be constructed in lower Manhattan at “Ground Zero,” and the papers were dumped in the city garbage of West Houston and Sullivan streets.

The papers had floor-to-floor schematics, the thickness of the concrete wall, location of electrical systems and elevators, all of which were a treasure trove for a potential terrorist to plan a full-fledged attack. The papers didn’t have a specific monetary value, but the people who would be willing to bid on them are terrifying and intriguing. Fortunately, the papers didn’t fall into the wrong hands, and the homeless man who found them returned them to the concerned authorities. (source)


7 The nuclear-weapon material from World War II found in a garbage dump.

Earliest weapons-grade plutonium found in US dump
Image credits: Washington Closure Hanford/Newscientist

A special kind of plutonium is used in the making of atomic bombs. While cleaning up the Hanford Site, a huge Department of Energy cleanup site in southeastern Washington state, workers came across an old safe buried in a pit.

When they opened it, there was a bottle that turned out to be an abandoned piece of plutonium-239. Plutonium-239 is a specific type of substance used in the Manhattan Project during World War II. Plutonium is radioactive and can cause lung cancer in a human who breathes it in. However, the amount of plutonium found was not enough to develop a nuclear weapon but was also not small enough to be trusted in the hands of any bomb makers. (source)


8 A painting worth $1 million by artist Rufino Tamayo found in the trash after being lost for 20 years.

Garbage is the least expected place to find a $1 million painting! In 2003, Elizabeth Gibson was casually on her way to get coffee when she spotted a large 38-by-51-inch colorful canvas snuggled between two garbage bags. The painting was thrown in the garbage like it was worth nothing on 72nd Street in Manhattan, New York. Gibson felt attracted to the painting even though her apartment was not big enough to place such a large painting. She picked up the canvas and took it to her apartment.

While watching an episode of the Antiques Roadshow, she heard a description of the painting. The painting turned out to be the most famous artwork by the celebrated 20th-century Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo. It was Three People, a 1970 masterpiece that was stolen 20 years ago. The painting was a depiction of a man, a woman, and an androgynous figure with a mix of yellow, purple, and orange shade. The canvas had a whopping value of $1 million. (source)


9 Employees accidentally trashed $5 million worth of diamonds.

J. Birnbach jewelry store in Manhattan, New York (Image to the left), diamonds. Image credits: William C. Lopez via nypost.com, Shutterstock

What do you do when you find a trove full of diamonds? Most of us would try to sell them. So did the security guard who was caught attempting to sell $5 million worth of diamonds on the black market. In 2015, employees of the J. Birnbach jewelry store in Manhattan, New York accidentally threw out a trove of precious diamonds that were worth over $5 million. When the company was on a move to a new floor, the employees accidentally threw out the diamonds, which were in battered boxes.

While on a trash drive, a security guard, Wilfred Martinez, unearthed the gems. The three wooden boxes were dumped on a pile of rubbish when Martinez found them. He sold them for $74,000 in the same building where he found them. Upon checking the surveillance footage, the police arrested the 48-year-old security guard and charged him with criminal possession of the stolen property. (source)


10 Platinum, one of the most precious metals, dumped into the bottom of the ocean hundreds of years ago.

Image is used for representational purposes only. Image credit: Shutterstock

Platinum is one of the most expensive and rarest metals on earth. Today, platinum jewelry may cost you a fortune as a single ounce of platinum sells for about $1,400. It is worth around three times as much gold jewelry and 42 times as much silver jewelry. Back in the 16th century, when the Spanish were first introduced to platinum in South America, they thought it to be undiscovered gold. The platinum was similar in density and was tough to melt. Platinum soon became a bonanza for counterfeiters. They used platinum primarily to create counterfeit gold coins that are immensely hard to tell apart from real gold coins.

Shortly after its discovery and use in forgeries, Spain began to face economic crises, and the Spanish currency needed urgent restoration. To combat this increasing problem, the Spanish came up with the solution to dump the platinum of the entire country into the sea. Following the royal decree of 1735, all the platinum confiscated from counterfeiters was thrown into the sea. Little did the Spanish know just 100 years or so later that platinum will itself become the rarest and one of the most expensive metals on earth. However, it was too late for the vast wealth that was lost at the bottom of the ocean. (source)

Also Read:
10 Amazing Metal Detecting Finds of All Time

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