Author - Travis Lane

Where Do Celebrities Store Their Belongings?

Celebrity Storage Auctions

It's every auction-hunter's dream: Opening a storage unit and finding out that it's full of exclusive celebrity paraphernalia. Who wouldn't want to see original photographs, unreleased recordings, hand-written song lyrics or other one-of-a-kind items from famous people? Not only that, but many celebrities are huge collectors in their own right, picking up souvenirs from filming locations or hoarding valuable items. Sometimes, these items end up in storage units, and sometimes, those units go into default.


Celebrity storage auctions aren't the most common occurrence, but they do happen. Recently, Lindsay Lohan's belongings went up for auction. There was also the famous Paris Hilton storage auction, and of course the lost Beach Boys memorabilia auction that occurred recently. So, if you're an enterprising storage auction-goer, you might be eager to predict when and where the next celebrity auction will occur.


Unfortunately, this isn't always easy to predict. First, there's no telling when a celebrity might default on his storage locker. Most celebrities have people who handle their finances for them, so even the most irresponsible celebs usually avoid major financial trouble or at least forestall it for a long time. Many storage lockers are also prepaid, so even if the celebrity goes broke, the locker will be protected.


There's another complicating factor, of course: many celebrities don't store items under their own name. They do this for privacy reasons and to deter curious thieves and vandals. Instead, they'll put their units in the name of an agent or assistant. This can make it hard to tell where they do their business. It can also make it hard to know for sure who owned a unit that goes up for auction; it's always possible that a random unit might actually belong to a celebrity using another name.


Still, there's a few things you can assume. A celebrity will usually use a nicer, higher-security facility in a good neighborhood. There's also going to be a higher chance of items being stored in a city known for its celebrity population, like Hollywood or Nashville. Don't think those are the only places where celebrities are keeping things, though: They might also keep their belongings in their home town, or they might have picked up a storage unit in a different town while filming there. Also, don't forget that the parents and other relatives of celebrities could be storing their items as well – it happened with Kobe Bryant, it could happen again.


Overall, it's probably best not to obsess too much over a celebrity's storage unit. Your odds of finding one are extremely slim. Still, it can be fun to think about, and you never know – an amazing celebrity auction might be just around the corner.


Should You Attend Auctions With Only One or Two Available Units?

Small Storage Auctions

Some storage facilities choose to hold onto their units for several months and hold a few large auctions per year. Others want to have their units emptied as quickly as possible, so they hold auctions on a monthly or as-needed basis. This means that, depending on the size of the facility and how many delinquent tenants it might have had, any given auction could be quite small.


When you find a notice of an upcoming storage auction, you'll be able to see quickly how many units are up for sale. You'll then have a choice: Do you bother with the small auction, or do you only attend the larger storage auctions? There's pros and cons to each method, so putting some thought into it will help you make the right choice for your needs.


Benefits to Small Storage Auctions:


  • Less competition. Since fewer people will be there, you don't have to deal with crowds or over-eager newbies. Most people won't bother with small auctions, which means you might have first pick of anything good you find.

  • Lower prices. Since there are fewer people competing with you at a small auction, the units typically sell for less. You might be able to get the unit for next to nothing if the other bidders aren't interested in it.

  • More time to talk with the facility manager. A smaller auction is likely to have a more relaxed atmosphere, which gives you more time to chat with the facility manager, auctioneer and other people who might be full of useful information about upcoming auctions. This networking opportunity might make a trip worthwhile even if nothing good is found.

  • You won't be tempted to buy more units than you can deal with. Attending small auctions can be a good idea if you're just starting out or have a limited budget. Since only one or two units will be available, you won't be able to load up on a half-dozen units and then get completely overwhelmed.


Drawbacks to Small Storage Auctions:


  • You might not find anything. Since only a small percentage of storage units have valuable contents, the units at a small auction may not fall into that category.

  • You might waste gas and time. If you're attending multiple small auctions in one day, you might strike out on all of them. If you'll be visiting just one auction, that's still gas and time you would otherwise not have spent.

  • You could miss out on a better auction. If you're at a small auction, you might miss a larger auction happening elsewhere, and that one could have some better opportunities.


Overall, the question of whether to attend a small storage auction depends on how much time and resources you have available and how willing you are to gamble. While there's no guarantees that visiting the smaller auction will pay off, there's also never any guarantee that a larger auction will yield any better results. Considering the pros and cons and taking a calculated risk might just pay off.


So which do you prefer: large auctions with lots of units and lots of people or smaller auctions with only a few units and a few people? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.


What to Do if You Find Pornography in a Storage Unit

Pornography Bust

With the recent arrest of Tyreek Wilkerson over his discovery of child pornography in a storage unit, many auction hunters may be wondering just what they should do if they find inappropriate materials at their next auction. Pornography of all kinds – including child pornography – tends to show up in storage units pretty often. Learning what to do before you're faced with the actual issue is an important step to keeping yourself safe.


First, if you haven't been following the case, here's what happened to Wilkerson: He purchased a storage unit at an auction and discovered pornographic materials inside. Instead of turning them into the police right away, he chose to throw the materials in the trash and take other items from the unit, including cameras and lighting equipment, back to his home. This was the wrong choice, and it swiftly led to his arrest for obstructing a police investigation.


If you're ever in Wilkerson's shoes and find illegal material of any kind in a storage unit – whether it be pornography, drugs, stolen items or anything else that looks fishy – you need to report it right away. Don't even bring the items out of the unit. Instead, alert the facility manager and the police, and let the cops come check out the unit's contents before you mess with them. You never know when the items in a storage unit might be the crucial evidence in a criminal investigation, and withholding that evidence from the police is a serious offense.


In case you're wondering, this also applies to firearms. Guns are carefully regulated, and the local authorities will want to check that gun against a database to ensure it hasn't been used in any crimes and wasn't procured illegally. Treat any guns you find with caution and assume it will be confiscated; if it's not, you'll be happily surprised, but if it is, you won't be disappointed.


So that explains what to do with illegal materials, but what about regular pornography?


The first option, of course, is to throw this material away. If you're easily offended by such things, it makes sense that you wouldn't want to resell them. If you do choose to go this route, just be careful to dispose of them in a place that curious young eyes can't get hold of them, and get on with your life.


But that's not the most profitable choice. The thing about adult materials like “toys” and pornography is that it can be both difficult to sell and, at times, surprisingly lucrative. If you don't mind doing a bit of research, you might discover that you have an issue or image that holds collector's value. Even if not, many places will buy adult videos and even magazines. Call around some of the “adult” shops in your area to see if anyone is interested in buying.


If all else fails, you can also resell these items over the Internet. You can sell adult-themed items on eBay as long as they're legally obtained. There are also adult-themed websites that can be used for this purpose. If you frequent a lot of storage auctions, it might be in your best interests to get familiarized with a few adult sites or stores so you can make a bit of money from these units.


Man Arrested for Child Pornography Found in a Storage Unit

Pornography Storage Unit

A couple in Southfield, Michigan decided to start attending storage auctions in hopes of finding treasure and making some extra money. Along the way, they found plenty of jewelry and other nice items; unfortunately, they also stumbled onto the storage unit of a pedophile and are paying the price.


Last week, the couple attended an auction in Ypsilanti's National Storage Center, and purchased a unit that was filled with many items related to a child pornography operation. The couple identified some items at the facility, including several obscene photographs and used undergarments.


At the time, the couple threw away what they had found and alerted the storage facility owner. They then took home the rest of the unit's contents, which were kept in multiple storage bins, and continued sorting through them at home. Once there, they found more equipment including cameras, lights and more obscene photographs.


The couple planned to deliver the rest of these items to the police, but they didn't get the chance. Local authorities, possibly tipped off by the storage facility itself, arrived at the home and seized the items and arrested the homeowner despite his pleas that the items had simply been found. He's being charged with possession of child pornography and obstruction of an ongoing investigation.


This serves as a very important warning for anyone who frequents lien sales. Once you purchase a storage unit, the items inside become your legal property, and you are responsible for them. In this case, the auction hunters should have contacted the police immediately rather than taking any items home or attempting to dispose of them themselves. Illegal items such as child pornography, drugs and stolen goods, are all evidence of a crime, and disposing of them is considered tampering with evidence – even if you were completely uninvolved in the crime itself.


Of course, reporting such a find does mean that you will likely lose the contents of the unit, even the items that are not illegal. Still, this is better than running the risk of an arrest due to possession of these illegal objects. Play it safe and report anything you find that seems suspicious.


Iconic James Bond Car Goes Up for Auction

James Bond Wet Nellie Lotus

James Bond fans around the world are preparing for a London auction scheduled for September 8th and 9th at RM Auctions. The vehicle in question, lovingly referred to as “Wet Nellie,” is the 007 Lotus Espirit submarine car featured in The Spy Who Loved Me. This one-of-a-kind car was built by Perry Oceanographic in Riviera Beach, Florida and cost over $100,000 at the time. Today, that would translate into a $500,000 expense.


The vehicle became available after being discovered in a storage unit. It seems that the prop was originally kept in a prepaid storage facility in Long Island. After the 10 years of prepaid time ended, no one came forward to claim the vehicle or pay additional rent, so the abandoned unit was auctioned off in a blind auction. The winners had no idea what had been purchased until afterwards, when they removed the tarp from the car and identified it as the 007 prop.


This one-of-a-kind vehicle is genuinely priceless, and no estimates have been made as to what it might sell for. The last James Bond vehicle to be publicly auctioned, Goldfinger's Aston Martin DB5, sold for around $4.4 million. This vehicle is much older and even more unique, so it may earn a substantially higher final bid.


This is not the first time that expensive movie paraphernalia has been lost and turned up in a storage auction, and it does give hope to auction hunters everywhere.


Are Brick and Mortar Stores Worthwhile for Resellers?

Thrift Store

Eventually, many resellers come to a point where their business has expanded beyond the small-scale business it once was. Although most resellers start by selling their items at flea markets or over the Internet, eventually many begin to gather so many goods that this becomes less feasible. For the full-time reseller, a brick-and-mortar shop can be very appealing – and lucrative.


Before you start your own thrift store, however, there are many things to take into consideration. Moving your small business into a larger scale operation can be exciting and profitable, but it's not the right choice for everyone. Take some time to consider the pros and cons of a store before going to the trouble of opening one.



  • You have access to new customers who might not be shopping online or frequenting the same swap meets or yard sales that you usually sell through.

  • You'll have plenty of space to store merchandise so your home won't get cluttered and you can save money on storage units of your own.

  • You don't have to worry about repeated trips to the post office or calculating shipping for orders the way you would with an eBay store.

  • You can hire staff to help manage the store while you search for more items for sale.

  • People may start coming to you with items they wish to sell, which can help increase your inventory without needing to actively search for things.

  • You can continue running sales through virtual channels or swap meets and use those sales as free advertising for your main store.



  • You need to lease the building, which greatly adds to your overhead.

  • You'll need liability insurance for the business to protect you in case anyone falls or is otherwise injured at your store.

  • If you hire employees, your taxes will become more complicated than if you were running a sole proprietorship.

  • You will also be expected to provide certain wages and benefits to your employees depending on the business's size and your state's laws.

  • Brick-and-mortar resale businesses aren't as flexible as virtual shops, and you'll be tied down to that location for quite some time.


Before you make any decisions about the future of your resale business, you should take a hard look at your profits and talk the choice over with your accountant. He or she can help you decide whether you're ready to expand or if expanding is even a viable option for your business.


Selling Sensitive Items

Nazi Memorabilia

One of the most thrilling parts of storage auctions is digging through the items left behind by their owner. This sort of treasure hunting can connect you with history and culture, and it gives you an interesting insight into the life of a stranger. Sometimes, though, that stranger's life is perhaps more interesting than you'd hoped it would be – and they've left you with sensitive items that you now need to find a way to resell.


It could be that the storage unit was full of sex toys and pornography. Or perhaps the previous owner was a collector of Nazi or KKK memorabilia. Whatever the case may be, you now are the owner of items that you don't want to keep but aren't too excited about selling at a flea market where everyone knows your name. What can you do?


First, make sure that nothing you've purchased is actually illegal. Drug paraphernalia, child pornography, guns and other such items must be handled by the police, and it's up for them to decide whether you can hold onto them. If in doubt, check with the law first so you don't get in trouble for attempting to re-sell something that's illegal to own.


But assuming that your item isn't illegal, just in poor taste, there are a few methods for selling it. If you're not ashamed of damaging your reputation, of course, you can always resell these items through your usual channels, such as the flea market or yard sales. If you'd rather avoid having your local community question your tastes, however, you'll want to opt for something a bit more discreet. It's also likely that your usual buyers will have little interest in these specialized items, so it's often not worth the risk to alienate them.


Other valid options are eBay & Craigslist. You can buy and sell practically anything on these sites, and they're relatively anonymous. Of course, if you do a lot of your business on eBay already, you may run into the same problems mentioned above – alienating your buyers and damaging your reputation. Additionally, these websites  may prohibit you from posting certain types of items.


If you have a bit of time on your hands, one of the best methods for selling these sensitive items may be to search out potential buyers and contact them directly. There are millions of websites on the Internet, and quite a few of them are devoted to very specific interests. Do a bit of searching to find a community or forum interested in the kind of sensitive items you have for sale, and see if you could convert the members into customers. Maybe you could post an ad on their forum or even email a few likely collectors. It takes some effort, but your odds of making a decent sale improve when you do this.


If you'd rather not have the Nazi memorabilia fall into the hands of a collector, an alternative plan may be to contact a museum. Even if you can't sell it, you can donate the item and get a tax write-off. This will take the item off your hands and leave you feeling good about it in the process.

However you choose to dispose of sensitive items, some discretion can help save you from embarrassment and lost customers without taking a loss on things deemed unsaleable.


Have you or someone you know come across sensitive items in a storage unit? If so, how did get rid of the merchandise?


Kobe Bryant Memorabilia Finally Goes to Auction

kobe bryant memorabilia auction

In a highly anticipated and much-delayed auction, six items of Kobe Bryant memorabilia have gone up for auction on July 17th through the site This occurred at the end of a lengthy legal battle between Kobe, his mother and the owner of the auction site – a legal battle that's generated plenty of media attention and controversy.


The situation reportedly began when Kobe refused to give his mother the $450,000 she wanted for a new home in Nevada. She then turned to the numerous items Kobe had stored at the family home and decided to put them up for sale through GoldinAuctions. The site owner, Kenneth Goldin, quickly assessed the value of the 100 proposed items and agreed to give Pamela Bryant an advance of the amount she needed for her home; he expected to make a tidy $1.5 million in profits.


All of this came to a swift end when Kobe and his legal team found out about the auctions. A cease-and-desist letter was quickly sent out to Goldin, who initially resisted. Kobe, who had never given his mother permission to sell the items stored at the family home, pursued the case with a lawsuit that was set to go to trial next week.


Fortunately for Goldin, it didn't go that far. Instead, Goldin and Bryant reached a settlement and came to an agreement: Six of the original 100 items would be placed for auction on Goldin's site, and half of the proceeds will be donated to an anti-bullying charity that Kobe supports. Kobe's parents also released a public apology for the situation.


The items up for auction are some of the most highly coveted and valuable of the original 100:


  • Two of Bryant's high school basketball uniforms

  • A medallion from Magic's Roundball Classic, a high school all-star game

  • Two NBA championship rings

  • Bryant's 2000 NBA all-star ring

The auction is scheduled to run until July 19th.


Why an Auctioneer Will Shut Down Bidding

Auctioneer Stop

Most storage auctions follow a pretty straightforward and familiar format: You arrive, examine the unit, start bidding, and pay for the units you win. Occasionally, though, something might happen to disrupt this flow of events. In some cases, an auctioneer might shut down the bidding without awarding the unit to anyone. This can be frustrating, but understanding why it occurs can help you make sense of things. In general, there are three primary reasons why an auctioneer will shut down bidding mid-auction.


The first reason is that something illegal or dangerous is found in the unit. In most cases, the auctioneer has never seen the inside of the unit before cutting off the locks and opening it for bidding. If something unexpected is found inside, the bidding might be canceled. This can be a disappointment if you see something valuable inside, but it protects the auctioneer, the facility and all of the bidders from legal trouble down the line. Examples of items that could cause bidding to be shut down include human remains, drug paraphernalia, vehicles, guns or stolen items.


If a unit's contents are extremely valuable, a storage facility manager may have set a reserve price on the unit. If auction attendance was low or bids just just didn't reach an amount that the facility manager felt was fair for the unit, the auctioneer may pull the unit from the sale. In a case like this, you always have the option of making a higher offer to the facility manager after the auction has concluded.


The last reason an auctioneer might shut down bidding on a unit is less obvious. In some cases, the auctioneer might halt an auction if the bidding goes higher than expected. This happens because some storage facilities require district manager approval for units that go over a certain dollar amount. We're not exactly sure why this is; however, the most likely explanation is that the that the facility attempt to contact the tenant once more to make payment arrangements. In the event that something particularly valuable is found in the unit, causing its price to jump, the former tenant is more likely to sue the facility for that money, especially if the facility manager did not follow the lien laws to the letter. This is why some auctioneers are super cautious when it comes to pricy auctions.


Not every auctioneer will respond the same way to every situation. You may be accustomed to a certain way of doing things, then be surprised when a different auctioneer makes another judgment call. Try not to get too disappointed when bidding is shut down, though, regardless of what might be found inside the unit. It's better for an auction to be put on hold early on than to get caught up in a legal battle of your own once you buy the items inside.


Piece-by-Piece Storage Auctions

Piece by Piece Storage Auction

Most storage auctions sell their units whole: The auctioneer opens up the unit and the winning bidder walks away with all of the contents, including any trash or treasure inside. But this sales model is increasingly being replaced by piecemeal auctions, where the facility sorts through the unit and sells each item one by one. This allows bidders to pick and choose the items they wish to take home and skip the unpleasant task of sorting through things after the sale. But it's also an obvious way to price-gouge bidders, and it takes some of the excitement out of the treasure hunt. All in all, piece-by-piece auctions are a mixed bag.

These pieced-out auctions aren't new, but they do seem to be gaining prevalence in some places lately. Auction-hunters have mentioned running into them throughout the past few years, but they remain fairly rare. In many cases, the storage facility may choose to piece-out only a few of the units while selling others whole. This might be because a particular unit contains several valuable items that the facility believes will sell better separately.

Large items are easy to sell individually. Smaller items may be sold in clusters. For example, a unit filled with boxes might have each box up for sale individually, or a group of boxes could be sold as one small “lot.” The bidders would be allowed to examine the contents of each box, which does allow for substantially more research time than they'd otherwise have with a whole unit. On the other hand, all of this sorting, examining and bidding can take a long time; a single unit may take hours to sell.

Right now, these auctions make up only a small percentage of the total number of storage auctions held across the country. But if they start gaining in popularity, they may become more frequent. This is especially true now that many facilities are choosing to hold virtual auctions; since they're already in the unit taking photos, it's easy to separate out the items into individual lots.

The most likely case is that storage facilities may start removing key high-profile items to sell separately while auctioning off the rest of the unit in bulk. This helps increase the overall profits from a particular unit while avoiding the pitfall of unsold small items.

So what do you think of piece by piece storage auctions? Leave you interesting and creative response in the comments section below.