A California man living on disability checks had his fortune change after a blanket his grandmother used to cover the ground when her cat had kittens sold for more than a million dollars at auction.
Loren Krytzer has been living in a friend’s shack in Leona Valley, California, after struggling for years since he was in a major car accident in that lead to his left foot being amputated and put an end to his career as a carpenter.
Since the accident in 2007, Krytzer has been relying on just $200 left over from his disability checks and became so short on money that he sent his children to live with their grandparents across the country in Louisiana, he told CNBC’s Zack Guzman.
“I mean, what do you do? I had kids to take care of, no money, you know? Nothing saved up or nothing like that,” Krytzer told the news station.
Things began to change in 2011 when Krytzer tuned in to watch Antiques Roadshow. On that particular episode, Krytzer watched as an elderly man sold a First Phase Navajo blanket for $500,000. But as Krytzer studied the blanket on the screen, he immediately remembered the similar-looking blanket he had received from his great-grandmother.
“I paused it and I went and got the blanket and I’m sitting there holding it,” he remembered. “I’m lining up the lines on the TV with the blanket, seeing if they match.”
While Krytzer hoped he might be able to pull in a few grand if the blanket was indeed the real deal, his family didn’t share his excitement. His mother said he might be lucky to get $10 since the blanket was at one point used by his grandmother Krytzer to catch kittens from her pregnant cat.
But Krytzer still held on to the possibility it could be something more, and he took the blanket to John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, California. After Krytzer chronicled the history of the piece — putting together how the blanket was passed down in his family starting with his great-great-grandfather John Chantland in 1800s — the blanket went up for auction in June 2012.
“They had to bring over water and stuff to me and wipe sweat off my head,” he said. “I started hyperventilating because I couldn’t believe it… Everything just went limp and I couldn’t catch my breath.”
The blanket sold for $1.5 million, to none other than Antiques Roadshow appraiser Don Ellis, who appraised the blanket Krytzer saw a year before.
Since then, Krytzer bought two homes, a Dodge Challenger SRT8 customized by West Coast Customs (the team made famous in MTV’s Pimp My Ride), and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle — things he never dreamt of owning before. Krytzer says his new fortune had a profound effect on his health since he was able to go on more trips —like a cruise with his family to Mexico — and escape the confines of his shack.
“For the first time in years I’m actually able to walk with my wife and hold her hand down the street,” he said.
But Krytzer still hasn’t been able to work, and is now considering moving to Idaho to escape California’s taxes, which have taken a bite out of the money he has left. While he contemplates his next moves, Krytzer says the auction will forever be remembered as the day that saved him.
“I firmly believe I’m here because years ago I turned my life around,” 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.”