The Most Expensive Things Ever Thrown Away

It’s easy to accidentally throw away something you didn’t mean to—keys, cell phone, maybe even a piece of jewelry. I know I’ve dumpster-dived for a few things I didn’t mean to toss. Fortunately, I’ve never accidentally chucked a tire stuffed with money, a 300,000-pound ring, or a million-dollar painting. Prepare to be amazed—and horrified—by these top ten most expensive things ever thrown away.

10. A $50,000 Violin

Giuseppe Pedrazzini is a name that doesn’t sound familiar to many people nowadays, except aficionados of classical music. However, he was a famous violin maker in Italy in the early twentieth century. Fast forward to a few years ago, when a man hoping to find his wife a violin located one at the garbage dump.


He thought it looked old and took it to the Antiques Roadshow to find out if it was worth anything, in the hopes he could use the money to buy a better instrument. However, he changed his mind after learning the trash-heap violin was made by Pedrazzini, and was so prized it was worth $50,000. I bet that was music to his ears!

9. Wedding Rings and More Wedding Rings

A Missouri woman named Carla Squiteri took off her 400,000 dollar ring while washing her hands and wrapped it in a towel for safekeeping while it dried.


Later, her husband was cleaning the kitchen and tossed the towel, unaware it contained the ring. Sadly, neither of them realized it until after the trash had been collected. Initially told there was nothing the trash collection service could do, the couple appealed to their small town’s mayor, and after that, a trash collection employee was able to get the truck diverted. At that point, Squiteri and her husband dug through a mountain of trash—and eventually found the ring.


Elsewhere, a woman named Anna McGuinn was super careful with her $10,000 ring. When she realized she had it on in the shower, she asked her husband Brian to put it somewhere safe so it wouldn’t accidentally fall down the drain. That was good thinking—almost. On his way to toss out a razor, he took the ring with him…and eventually tossed it, too. They didn’t realize it until the next day…after the trash was collected. Brian had to “suit up” in protective clothing to dig through refuse at the county dump, but eventually he found his wife’s ring. After a very thorough cleaning, it’s now back on her finger.

©Joe Raedle

8. A Tire Stuffed with Cash

The idea of accidentally throwing away a tire sounds a little far-fetched. After all, it’s not something small you could pitch without even thinking about it. Those things are heavy, and you’re probably not going to move one without meaning to. Workers doing maintenance along highway 70 outside of Indianapolis found a large tire on the side of the road. Upon closer inspection, they realized it was actually stuffed with 5 and 100 dollar bills!


In fact, the stash in the tire added up to $100,000. How someone managed to throw that away without noticing, I have no idea. But the next time I see a spare tire along the road, I might just take a quick look at it…

7. $57,000 in Payroll Checks

As a senior compliance inspector at the Pinellas County Department of Solid Waste Operations, Alex Crawford finds some unusual things at the dump.

©Reto Gerber

Once he saw a leg sticking out. Having watched a lot of crime shows, I probably would have thought it was a dead body and called the cops. But Crawford soon realized it was a prosthetic leg someone accidentally threw away…somehow. He charges people $100 for the privilege of digging through the trash for lost items. One man came out ahead when he found his $400 false teeth, but the real winner was a woman who had somehow managed to throw away $57,000 in payroll checks.

Well, actually, her employees were the real winners there..

6. 35-year-old Baseball Card Collection

Jason Souter was living in Manhattan at the time his mom, Susan, decided to clean out the closet in his old room.

©Robert Kirkham

He planned to visit for Mother’s Day, so Susan cleaned out the closet in his old room, thinking she was getting rid of old clothes and bedding. She left the trash bags for a local charity called AMVETS and thought nothing more about it. But on Mother’s Day, Jason realized she’d tossed a bag containing his childhood baseball card collection. It included some Roger Maris rookie cards from 1958, that can go for more than $3,000 on eBay on a good day.

©Old Sports Cards

Other cards were also valuable, and the family believes the collection was worth between five and ten thousand.  Sadly mom really struck out when she cleaned that closet—when contacted, the charity said the cards must have been resold.

5. A $200,000 Apple Computer

Silicon Valley is home to many large tech companies, including Apple, and also a recycling firm called Clean Bay Area. One day, a woman brought in several boxes of old electronics. She said she’d found them when cleaning out the garage after her late husband died, and declined to leave her name. Several days later, employees sorting through the boxes found an Apple I—a rare early Apple computer. It turned out to be a highly expensive thing thrown away.

©Cynde Moya

It’s so rare, only about 200 were produced, as they were hand-assembled by founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne.  After confirming it was the real deal, Clean Bay Area sold the prized possession for $200,000. They said if the donor ever came back, they’d give her half, as they split proceeds with people who donate valuable items.

4. Million Dollar Lotto Ticket

A Massachusetts man named Kevin Donovan was in the habit of buying scratch-off lottery tickets—and losing. One day he tossed a handful in the trash, not realizing one was actually a winner. Along came Edward St. John, an 83-year-old who stayed active by collecting old scratch-off tickets from the trash. Hey, everyone needs a hobby. It turned out one of the tickets was actually a million-dollar winner.

©Emma Gibbs 

Donovan claimed the ticket was rightfully his. But the lotto commission ruled in St. John’s favor, saying only possession was required to cash in a ticket, not proof of purchase. Donovan died shortly after and his children tried to sue St. John, who ended up settling to avoid a long court battle. In a similar situation in Little Rock, Arkansas, a trash-picker who found a million-dollar lotto ticket was sued not only by the person who threw it away but also the store owner, who claimed there were “no trash picking” signs on store property.

©Okan Caliskan

In the end, only the lawyers struck it rich on that one.

3. 5 Million in Diamonds

©Lars Plöger

Diamonds are so bright and sparkly, it’s easy to be blinded. Maybe that’s what happened to the jewelry store employees who accidentally tossed 5 million worth of them in the trash. A security guard later found them, and he wasn’t too bright either.  Instead of socking them away and waiting until everyone forgot about the lost diamonds, he tried to sell them on the black market and promptly got caught.

2. The Million Dollar Painting

On the other hand, honest people sometimes benefit from dumpster diving. A New Yorker named Elizabeth Gibson saw a 38 by 51 inch painting sitting by the curb with some other trash and decided to take it home. One day she was watching Antiques Roadshow and learned it matched the description of Tres Personages, a painting valued at one million that had been stolen twenty years earlier.

©Rufino Tamayo

There was a fifteen thousand dollar reward offered, so she returned the painting. Police never figured out who left the picture on the sidewalk. The building manager said the trash was collected twenty minutes after she snatched it up. Speaking of valuable art, a cleaner at an Italian Gallery tossed a sculpture by Paul Branca, valued at $15,000.

© Paul Branca

To be fair, the sculpture was shaped like two dustbins, as the artist wanted people to think about the environment. I hope it at least got recycled…

1. Bitcoins

This could be the most expensive thing thrown away. In 2009, an IT worker named James Howells had mined 7,500 bitcoins on his laptop during the early days of the cryptocurrency. ‘Mining’ basically means that James set his computer to solve complex mathematical problems. In return, he received bitcoin tokens which back then were only worth around £20 in total.


The bitcoins were stored on his hard drive and  He forgot about them, eventually throwing away the hard drive after his girlfriend complained that the laptop was getting too noisy while working out the problems. Only later did he find out the bitcoins had risen in value to more than 4 million pounds. As of now, one bitcoin is equal to $7,374.01 in US dollars.

via Google

Multiplied by 7,500, that comes out to more than $55 million dollars, lost in a landfill. Now that’s an expensive bit of coin! His hoard can only be accessed using a ‘private key’, or digital code… but the problem is that this information is only stored on his laptop hard drive.

©Chris Ciapala

He raised money to go look for it in the landfill site but the hard drive has not yet been found. If you happen to come across it though, James said he’ll be happy to split the treasure, because you’ll still need his help because the code is encrypted.

Have you seen a shining example of an expensive thing thrown away the trash? Let me know in the comment section down below! Also, if you enjoyed this article please sign up. Thanks for reading!

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