The success of television programmes that show you how you can get rid of anything you do not need and reorganize what you keep has seen many Americans rushing to rid their homes of unwanted items.
However in Britain one homeowner decided to go against all this advice and stored over 60,000 items in his home, earning him the title of “Britain’s biggest ever hoarder.’ And while many would see this as a negative the hoard has been valued at around £4 million ($5.1m) at auction.
The items in question have covered every area of the 3 bedroom terraced house – inherited from his late mother – and left so little space to live that the owner eventually moved into a bed and breakfast for the year before he died. He also rented a one bedroom apartment, part of his neighbor’s garden, two garages and 24 wheelie bins in order to keep all his goods.
Since his death eight men took more than six weeks to empty the house and could not even enter the property in the first instance until they had cleared away some of the bags.
Yet when they finally got in they were welcomed to an Aladdin’s cave of treasure.
The bachelor hoarder was believed to have started collecting items to pay for his retirement around 18 years ago however he died before he had a chance to cash in.
Neighbors recalled seeing postal vans full of parcels arriving at the house on a weekly basis and the local auction house has had to set aside three rooms for the items to be stored before a four day sale will see over 3,000 lots up for sale.
But what was in the hoard that could be deemed so valuable?
As well as 1980s ghetto blasters, jewelery – including a 14ct yellow gold diamond ring that is expected to be sold for around £850 (around $1,100) and Airfix and Revell model kits – including H.M.S. Prince and H.M.S. Victory respectively – the hoard included cinema reels, radio equipment and American and Russian space exploration memorabilia. The space collection has been described as in ‘excellent’ condition and includes photos and slides.
Staggeringly there were also over 6,000 vintage comics – including The Beano, Topper and Beezer – as well as more than 3,000 vintage chemistry sets. There were also more than 4,000 rare books and a collection of Matchbox sets including popular 1960s TV show Stingray.
The gentleman also liked to collect equipment with 12 Rickenbacker guitars, dated from the 1960s and 1970s and worth up to £10,000 ($13,000) each, stored alongside some cameras, mostly brand new, and lenses.
One of the biggest finds though were thousands of pieces of memorabilia from British band The Beatles – including a rare, signed copy of Hard Day’s Night LP which could be worth up to £4,000 ($5,170) as well as historical letters regarding President John F Kennedy, British war time Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Elvis Presley and Gandhi.
The majority of the collection has never been opened and many are either brand new or in a virtually new condition.
Speaking of his disbelief at the collection Lincoln auctioneer Terry Woodcock said it was the biggest collection he had ever been asked to sell and that he had never seen or heard of a collection this big before.
Mr Woodcock said, “This collection is beyond belief. I met the man’s brother at the house and he was just as shocked as I was. He had no idea his brother lived like he did. His house and garage were literally crammed full of items.”
While it is believed that the owner had attended conventions and conferences a large proportion of the collection was bought from eBay. However Mr Woodcock said of the buyer, “He didn’t buy rubbish, a lot of it was top quality stuff.”
Mr Woodcock continued, ‘after he passed away his brother’s first inclination was to send it all to the landfill. Luckily he didn’t.
‘We couldn’t get in through the front door so we had to go around the back.
‘We were totally amazed at what we saw. Everywhere in the property was full to the ceiling, it was very difficult to move around.
‘It was impossible to get up the stairs and you couldn’t see the top of the staircase.
‘We found out that when he filled up the house the owner rented two garages and when they were full he rented part of the garden next door.
‘We used eight men in three vans every day to empty the house.
‘We started unpacking the parcels four weeks ago and we are still doing it. We employ 18 people and everyone is working on this collection.”