Tag - storage wars

Dave Hester Alleges Storage Wars is Fake

dave hester

People in the storage auction industry have long speculated that the reality TV show Storage Wars is more fiction than reality. Now, a lawsuit from the show's own David Hester has blown the scandal wide open. Whether the fall-out will make a long-term effect in the popularity of these shows remains to be seen, but it's certainly giving the public something to talk about.

The lawsuit started when David Hester approached television executives with concerns that the activities going on in the show were illegal. Specifically, he alleges that the A&E staff “salts” units with pricy memorabilia and collectors items to make the show more interesting.

This is potentially in violation of laws that prevent television producers from fixing “competitions of skill,” such as game shows. This law, an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934, was passed after quiz show scandals in the 1950s. It's debatable whether the law applies to reality television as well, but Hester's concern was enough to lead show executives to terminate his involvement with the show.

Now, having been fired mid-season, Hester is retaliating with a lawsuit to recover his lost wages from the terminated contract – earnings of $25,000 per episode, altogether equaling $2 million in damages. Here are some of the complaints he raises about how the show has been faked:

  • The show “salts” storage units with valuable items to make the program more interesting
  • Some of the units are entirely staged, faked or put together by the show's team
  • The show films some footage while no auction is actually taking place
  • An antique store called Off the Wall Antiques routinely provides items for the show in exchange for being featured in episodes
  • A female cast member underwent plastic surgery at the program's expense to increase her sex appeal
  • Show executives sometimes buy units on behalf of weaker bidders to add interest to the show
  • Many interviews with cast members are scripted or staged

Although the producers have stated in the past that Storage Wars is not fake, there is a preponderance of evidence coming out that seems damning. There are emails, invoices and receipts for items procured by the show's production staff to salt storage lockers. Hester himself was asked to provide such items while filming the first season, and he states he was uncomfortable at the time.

According to Hester and other witnesses, the production staff wasn't shy about salting storage units. In many cases, they would pause filming to place items to be “discovered” in the unit in-between takes. They would do this in front of cast members and bidders, creating plenty of eye-witnesses. Indeed, many people on our own forum have mentioned similar phenomena at taped auctions.

Auctioneer Dan Dotson, who also appears on the Storage Wars show, has insisted that the show is not faked. He states that the units are kept locked prior to bidding and not tampered with. This does not, however, prevent the production staff from salting the unit after purchase, which is when the majority of these activities seem to occur.

Of course, most of this should come as no surprise to people in the industry. Whether it will have any long-term effects for viewers is something that remains to be seen. Most people seem to expect reality television to be at least somewhat scripted, but the knowledge that the show is largely staged may turn viewers off. Of course, if Storage Wars is faked, it's likely that its spin-off series Storage Wars Texas and Storage Wars New York are faked as well. If the lawsuit drives Storage Wars off the air, it's possible that its companion shows – and even competitor shows like Auction Hunters – may suffer a similar fate.

Even if the show isn't canceled, it will be interesting to see whether this revelation turns newcomers away from the auction industry. It will also be interesting to see what other cast members do now that Hester has departed. The bad publicity may damage their business – or it may help drive more customers to their stores. Until the lawsuit is resolved, we can only watch and wait for answers.

So, what do you think about this mess? Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.

Dan Dotson Bio

Dan Dotson

One half of a husband-and-wife team, Dan Dotson is the featured auctioneer on A&E's Storage Wars. A native of Riverside, California, Dan and his wife are co-owners of American Auctioneers and run a number of storage auctions and provide other auction services.

Dan grew up in the auction business. His grandfather worked as an auctioneer for cattle and farms in Arkansas, and he passed the trade along to his grandson during the summers when Dan wasn't in school. From the age of 11, Dan was educated in the field, and he began working his first auctions at the age of 16.

Since then, Dan has developed a successful career in the auction business. He founded American Auctioneers in 1983 as an auction house specializing in pottery, porcelain, dolls, furniture and collectibles; in 1996, he met Laura and she became his wife and business partner. They soon shifted their company's focus toward storage units, and they also started doing auctions for estates, business inventories and foreclosure auctions. Their company also handles fundraisers and appraisals.

In 2010, Dan and Laura started work on the TV show Storage Wars. Although Dan is the primary auctioneer on the show, he does sometimes stand aside to let his wife take center stage. They act as neutral parties with a friendly attitude toward all of their buyers, and they sometimes need to step in to cool down the tempers of fiercely competitive bidders on the show. When not officiating auctions, Dan is also the chief adviser of Storage Treasures, a web portal focusing on storage auctions across the country.

Roy Williams Makes a Guest Appearance on Storage Wars TX

Roy WIlliams Storage Wars Texas

A former NFL player, Roy Williams was a defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys for seven years, then finished his career with two years for the Cincinnati Bengals. He made his first appearance on Storage Wars: Texas when Ricky and Bubba found some memorabilia bearing Roy's autograph. After talking with him, they convinced him to come out and participate in his first storage auction in Season 2 of the show.

In 2011, Roy had some down-time while his agent was looking for the right team to pick him up. This left him with plenty of free time to explore the auction world and connect with fans through the show. His presence on Storage Wars: Texas undoubtedly helped lure in more eager fans for the program.

Roy hasn't returned for Season 3. Now officially retired from football, Roy works as a sidelines reporter for the Oklahoma Sooners, bringing him closer to his college roots as a player at University of Oklahoma. Whether he still attends storage auctions in his free time is unknown, but it's always a possibility.

Barry Weiss Bio

barry weiss

A life-long collector, Barry Weiss has been attending auctions since he was 15 to satiate his need for collectibles. Now in his 60s, Barry has a lot of experience to draw from and a keen eye for the unusual. Though he has more money to spend than most of his competitors, he still loses his temper frequently when he loses money on an auction. This sort of intensity is one of the things that's propelled him through his career and certainly endears him to fans.

Unlike others on the show, Barry doesn't have a long history with storage unit auctions. Indeed, he only began frequenting these auctions after being invited by the producers of Storage Wars. He is, however, a lifelong antiques collector, and many of the items he buys go toward his own private collections. Everything he doesn't want to keep gets sold or donated. As a wealthy retiree, Barry is more interested in the thrill of the hunt than making a profit on his findings.

Prior to his retirement, Barry and his brother actually made a fortune in agriculture as an importer and exporter of exotic produce. His business, Northern Produce, is located in Commerce, California and is still operating, though Barry has since retired. His brother is still the CEO of the company. Barry's 25 years of owning a business has given him plenty of money to spend on his passions, which include collecting antiques and traveling the world. He's estimated to be worth about $7 million, but much of that money is tied up in antiques and collector's cars.

Barry's known among other auction-hunters as a bit of an odd-ball. Some of his tactics are certainly unorthodox, from consulting psychics to wearing night vision goggles to peer into a dark storage unit. He also tends to wear outlandish and flamboyant clothing, especially his signature skeleton-patterned gloves, and certainly stands out in a crowd.

Of course, some of these tactics may simply be a way to put his competitors off, and he certainly succeeds with that quite often. Either way, he as a lot of fun doing what he does, and his energy is a breath of fresh air in an often tense industry.

Brandi Passante Bio

Brandi Passante

The long-time girlfriend of Jarrod Schulz, Brandi Passante was a stay-at-home mom for several years before getting involved in Jarrod's thrift store business. Now she's the other half of the duo appearing on Storage Wars. She's the more level-headed of the two, frequently talking sense into her partner before he spends more than they can afford on a unit.

While Jarrod's often enthusiastic and aggressive in his bidding, Brandi is more reserved and looks at things shrewdly and carefully, bidding only for items that she knows will fit in with the needs of their store. This does sometimes lead her to be too conservative and miss out on potentially great finds, but they've still managed to put together an impressive business from what they get. Fans love the dynamic between the couple, although some have criticized Brandi as being shrewish or overbearing. Some interviews suggest that these elements of their relationship may be played up for he show.

Though not officially married, Brandi and Jarrod have been together for 12 years and have two children together. Aside from her time on the show, Brandi leads a fairly private life. Aside from information some eager fans have gleaned from her public Twitter and Facebook pages, little is known about her private life beyond what's seen in the show.

Jarrod Schulz Bio

Jarrod Schulz

Alongside his partner Brandi Passante, Jarrod Schulz is a main star in the show Storage Wars. He and Brandi run Now and Then Thrift Store, which they stock with finds from storage auctions and other sources. Together, they're referred to on the show as the “young guns” and they're relative newcomers to the storage auction business. They have less money available than many of the other bidders, so every purchase needs to be approached carefully, but they're quickly gaining experience and know-how in the field.

Jarrod began his career by buying items at storage auctions and reselling them at swap meets. After his home became overrun with items, he opened his thrift store, which Brandi assists in running. He also co-owns Outlaw Apparel, a clothing line that he can frequently be seen wearing on the show.

According to Reality Weekly, Jarrod has a history with the law. In the 1990s, he spent some time in prison for possession of a controlled substance and DUI. After his time in prison, he realized that he needed to make some major changes in his life. He worked for a time in real estate, attending storage auctions as a hobby, before finally opening his thrift store and entering the resale business full-time.

Darrell Sheets Bio

Darrell Sheets

Known as “The Gambler,” Darrell Sheets is an auction-hunter on the popular show Storage Wars on A&E. He's been in the storage auction business for more than 30 years and his experience has led him to make some truly impressive finds. Unlike many of the auction-hunter on the show, Darrell doesn't own a shop of his own. Instead, he buys items and stores them in his warehouse until he can resell them at swap meets and other events or to private collectors.

Darrell originally hails from San Diego, but he moved with his son Brandon to North Hollywood after his divorce. He and Brandon stand out from the crowd thanks to the tank tops they wear, which shows off their muscles and tattoos. Despite his somewhat forbidding presence, Darrell has an eye for art and other collectibles.

Since he doesn't run a store, Darrell can operate with a lower overhead than many other cast members. This allows him to be pickier with the units he bids on, and gives him room to seek out real treasures, like a letter written by Abraham Lincoln that fetched a handsome $15,000. Of course, not all of his finds have been so valuable, and he once was involved in a police investigation after finding a corpse in a storage unit he once won. Nevertheless, Darrell is keen to expand his wealth and experience and teach the trade to his son, who accompanies him on all of his auctions.

Dave Hester Bio

Dave Hester

Dave Hester, also known as “The Mogul” is an auction-hunter on the popular Storage Wars show on A&E. The 47-year-old thrift store owner has been involved in the industry since 1969, when he accompanied his father to a swap meet. Later, over a five year period, he sold a train set piece-by-piece to interested buyers for an impressive profit. It would be several years before he got truly involved in the resale community, though.

Following a DUI arrest in 2005, Hester needed to complete 30 days of community service at a Good Will store. Inspired, he turned his existing furniture store into a thrift shop, Rags to Riches, which he would stock with items bought at storage auctins and other sources. He shut this down in 2011 to open his own auction house, Dave Hester Auctions. Thanks to his role in Storage Wars, he's earned an impressive celebrity net worth of around $3 million.

Of all the characters on Storage Wars, Dave Hester operates with the highest overhead and greatest risk. He's an aggressive bidder, and some of his tactics – especially his tendency to bid loudly and at the last minute – have earned him a role as an antagonist for many of the show's other buyers. He likes to drive up the prices on auctions to cost his competition more money, and he runs his businesses in a very orderly fashion – which makes sense, considering his military upbringing.

Dave's signature call of “Yuuup!” when placing a bid has made him famous, but also caused some scandals: He fought a legal battle with musician Trey Songz over his right to use the word as his catch-phrase after the rapper sent a cease-and-desist letter. The lawsuit has since been settled, but details of the settlement are still unclear.

Dave Hester was absent from several episodes of the most recent Storage Wars season. Coupled with some heated contract negotiations with AMZ, many fans suspected that Hester would not return to the show. As of right now, though, he's still a regular member of the program, and his son Dave Jr. is a regular participant as well.