During an episode of Antiques Roadshow, a man experienced a heartfelt moment when he discovered the significant financial value of an item he had brought in. It is often these seemingly insignificant possessions that can fetch astonishing prices, catching owners off guard with the realization that something they’ve had lying around their house could be worth a small fortune.
Ted Kuntz, a guest on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, found himself astonished when he presented an extraordinary object for appraisal. He had casually kept a blanket draped over the back of a chair for quite some time, completely unaware of its potential value.
The appraiser, Ellis, was taken aback by the blanket and exclaimed, “Did you notice when you showed this to me I kind of stopped breathing a little bit? Do you have any idea what you’re looking at here? Are you a wealthy man?” Kuntz, still feeling a bit nervous, replied, “Well, sir, I’m still a little nervous here. On a really bad day, this textile would be worth $350,000. On a good day, it’s about half a million dollars.”
Overwhelmed, Kuntz responded, “I had no idea! It was just laying on the back of a chair!” Ellis assured him, “Sir, you possess a national treasure. When you walked in with this, I was astounded. Congratulations.”
The blanket turned out to be a Navajo Ute blanket dating back to the 1850s. Kuntz claimed that it had been given to his grandmother’s foster father by the renowned frontiersman, Kit Carson. However, Ellis clarified that the appraisal value did not include the provenance of Kit Carson, as establishing provenance can be challenging. If they could conclusively prove that Kit Carson had indeed owned the blanket, its value would increase even further.
Kit Carson, while a famous frontiersman, also had a dark connection to the Navajo community. In 1864, Carson was involved in forcibly relocating Navajo communities from their ancestral lands in what is now Arizona. This relocation, known as “The Long Walk of the Navajo,” resulted in the deaths of approximately 200 Navajo individuals and is recognized as an act of ethnic cleansing.
In a subsequent episode of Antiques Roadshow, Kuntz shared what happened after the appraisal. He explained, “I knew we couldn’t afford to keep it, and it would be better served to be someplace where it could be preserved properly.” Eventually, after several years, the blanket was sold for approximately $450,000 to an anonymous buyer, who generously donated it to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Kuntz used the proceeds to pay off his mortgage but continued working until he reached the age of 74 before retiring.