Penniless Man Sold A 175-Year-Old Navajo Blanket For $1.5 Million

He had been living on $200 a month.

Six years ago, Loren Krytzer was down on his luck, to say the least. The onetime carpenter was forced to live on a paltry disability check each month after losing his foot in a car accident. After paying $700 in rent in Leona Valley, California, “LT,” as he is known by his friends, was left with only $200 a month for basic living expenses. He was in such financial straits, he moved his children to Louisiana to live with their grandmother.

One night in 2011, Krytzer turned on “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS and saw a man’s First Phase Navajo blanket valued at $500,000. He couldn’t believe it was appraised for so much money because it looked similar to an old blanket he inherited from his great-grandmother. “I paused [the TV] and I went and got the blanket and I’m sitting there holding it,” he told CNBC. “I’m lining up the lines on the TV with the blanket, seeing if they match.”

Image via JohnMoranAuctions/YouTube.

Krytzer took the blanket to John Moran auction house in Monrovia, California, where he gave a detailed history of the textile. It was passed down from his great-great-great-grandfather John Chantland in the 1800s. In 2012, the auction house determined it was one of the finest and rarest Navajo chief’s blankets in the world and put it up for auction with a $150,000 opening bid.

Image via JohnMoranAuctions/YouTube.

When the auction began, Krytzer’s blanket climbed from $150,000 to $500,000 to $1 million, and he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “They had to bring over water and stuff to me and wipe sweat off my head,” Krytzer recalled. “I started hyperventilating because I couldn’t believe it. … Everything just went limp and I couldn’t catch my breath.”

The blanket was won by “Antiques Roadshow” host, Don Ellis, the same man who appraised the blanket Krytzer saw on TV the year before. The final price: $1.5 million.

Before Krytzer collected his money, Moran sat him down with a CPA to explain the time-value of money. After collecting his check, LT was sensible, investing his cash in two homes and stocks and municipal bonds. Although he did have some fun by purchasing a 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8. “I firmly believe I’m here because years ago I turned my life around,” he told CNBC. “The things I’ve been through, I tell people it’s a strong faith and a strong mind. Without those things you’re not going to make it.”

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