Meet The California Man Who Was Broke And Destitute, Before Selling A Navajo Blanket Worth $1.5 Million

A California man who was living on $200 per month disability checks went from being destitute to being a millionaire, thanks to a long-forgotten-about Navajo blanket he inherited from his mother, which he believed was worthless, CNBC is reporting.

Loren Krytzer was broke — desperately broke. He’d had a promising career as a carpenter, until a 2007 car accident put an end to that. A series of fractures and infections eventually cost him a leg, leaving him with no family, no job prospects, and no money. Disability checks only helped a little bit: thanks to the high cost of living in California, his rent on a shack left him with only about $200 a month to get by.

“It was rough. I mean, we would literally go to Costco … and get a Costco hot dog and a Coke cause they were $1.50.”

What Krytzer didn’t realize was that he had something that was almost literally worth its weight in gold, stuck in a closet and forgotten about.

The Navajo blanket that Krytzer had inherited from his mother was an afterthought. His mom would lay it out on the porch and allow family cats to give birth to their litters of kittens on it.

When Krytzer’s grandmother died, everyone picked through her possessions, leaving the blanket for last. Krytzer scooped it up almost begrudgingly, then stuck it in a closet and forgot about it for seven years.

Fast forward to 2011. Krytzer was watching Antiques Roadshow — the PBS series where people bring in their priceless antiques to find out they’re worthless (or, in some cases, more valuable than they could possibly have imagined). As it turns out, the night Krytzer was watching, a patron brought it a Navajo blanket, not much unlike the one he’d stuffed away in a closet and forgotten about. It was worth half a million.

“This guy is on TV, the appraiser says $300,000 to $500,000. I’m thinking maybe [mine] is worth $5 to $10 grand.”

He shopped the blanket around to his friends and family. His mom said she wouldn’t give $10 for it. Antique dealers shooed him off, thinking he had a run-of-the-mill Mexican blanket made for tourists. Eventually, he was pointed towards John Moran Auctioneers, which specialized in Native American artifacts. Wouldn’t you know it, they were inviting people to come to an upcoming taping of Antiques Roadshow.

Appraiser Jeff Moran says that Krytzer brought the blanket in and told its story, revealing how it was handed down in his family over the generations.

“A lot of times a blanket or something will come to us and we won’t know the history of it.”

Moran determined that the blanket went back to the 1800’s — specifically to Krytzer’s great-great-grandfather John Chantland, a Dakota tradesman. He (Moran) then sent the blanket for testing, where he determined that it was made with the finest wool and dies available to the Navajo of the day — meaning the blanket likely belonged to a chief.

Moran told Krytzer that his blanket could probably fetch up to $200,000. Krytzer, desperate for cash, was tempted to sell it to buyers who wanted to get it into their hands for a few thousand bucks, while Moran wanted to auction it. In fact, at one point, Moran was so desperate to get Krytzer to wait for the auction that he (Moran) gave Krytzer a $9,000 advance just to keep him from selling it right away.

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012, Loren Krytzer walked into a Pasadena auction house disabled and broke. Seventy-seven seconds later, he walked out a millionaire: the blanket sold for $1.5 million.

One man saved his own life by selling a rare $1.5 million blanket he’d thought was worthless from CNBC.

“I started hyperventilating because I couldn’t believe it. … Everything just went limp and I couldn’t catch my breath.”

These days Krytzer is no longer broke. Thanks to sound financial advice from Moran’s accountant, he invested his money wisely, paying off bills and buying investment property. He did splurge on a few things, however: a Dodge charger, a motorcycle, a cruise to Mexico. He’s also taken charge of his health, spending less time sitting around the house feeling sorry for himself, and more time being active.

Still, taxes are taking their toll on him, and these days he’s considering a move to Idaho, where the tax burden won’t be so hard.

Still, he credits the blanket with saving his life.

“I firmly believe I’m here because years ago I turned my life around. 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.”

[Featured Image by VDV/Shutterstock]