October 04, 2018

10 'Pawn Stars' deals that went terribly awry

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The reality show "Pawn Stars" is a fan-favorite on the History Channel, and viewers have watched as Chumlee and the Harrisons have struck huge deals for sometimes innocuous looking items. 

The biggest payouts on the show were made to customers who had valuable pieces of history to sell, but the trick for the "Pawn Stars" is sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Usually, this involves bringing in an expert, but occasionally, a confidently made hasty sale ends up a horrible error in judgment.

Can you spot the fake when you watch a show? Let's look at some of the times a deal went sour.

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10. CRAPPY COMIC COLLECTION

A woman brought boxes of comic books into the store hoping to sell them off for $2,000. Chumlee brought her down to a quarter of the price without first checking if there were any rare or first edition comics in the pile.

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His error in judgment cost him dearly when an appraiser took a look at the comic books and declared the lot to be less than $200 in value.

9. RIDICULOUS ROCK 'N ROLL RELIC

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A musician brought in his 1961 Fender Stratocaster, invented by Leo Fender, to the store and Rick's childhood fascination with Jimi Hendrix got him to fork out $55,000 for it.

Unfortunately for him, neither the guitar nor the player was particularly famous and nobody took him up on his $90,000 price tag. The guitar eventually went on auction for $20,000.

8. SHADY STOLEN SILVER SHEKEL

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A customer brought in an alleged biblical "Shekel of Tyre" dating back to between 130 B.C. and 70 A.D. The "Pawn Stars" bought the ancient coin for $1,600.

A police detective came to the store and declared the coin stolen property and the sale was put on hold. The customer was cleared of any wrongdoing having acquired the coin legally.

Since the original owner's insurance had already paid him out for his loss, the store was allowed to keep the coin, but the Harrisons had overpaid for it because it was worth less than $1,200.

7. JOE JACKSON'S JOHNNY-HANCOCK

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A customer brought in a book allegedly signed by baseball icon "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. Joe Jackson was known to be illiterate, so his signature is a known rarity.

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Rick Harrison paid out $13,000 for the book "Say It Ain't So, Joe" and had it appraised by two independent appraisers. They both confirmed that the signature was a fake.

6. GIGANTIC GIANTS GARBAGE

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A customer brought in a baseball uniform that looked every bit authentic as a uniform that would have been worn by baseball legend Willie Mays in 1961.

Disregarding the few discrepancies he and Chumlee spotted, Corey Harrison made a deal for $31,000. With no bites on the $80,000 price tag in the store, they eventually auctioned it off for $19,000.

The uniform turned out to be a reproduction.

5. STRONG-BOX SCAM

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An old man came in with a 19th century Wells Fargo strong-box and two ball and chainsets. Rick picked up discrepancies immediately but still paid out $450 for the box and its contents.

The expert authenticator determined the box to be a complete stretch of the imagination.

4. MAKE-BELIEVE MATCHLESS MANDOLIN 

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A musician offered Chumlee a rare vintage Gibson mandolin. After seeing the many immediately identifiable Gibson logos, Chumlee takes a chance and settles on a price above his $1,000 limit. 

He buys the mandolin for $1,500 while Corey and Rick are out, as Orville Gibson is known to make only seven instruments a year, but the appraiser determined the article to be a copy worth no more than $100.

3. SPRITE SWINDLE

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A motorhead brought in a 1964 Austin-Healey Sprite and although the car wouldn't start, Rick assumed it would need minor repairs before being flipped for a lot of money and took a chance on it.

He paid half of the $10,000 the owner wanted for the collector's item car and took it to a friend's auto shop where he discovered it would take more than the price he paid to fix it.

2. ROOKIE ROLEX ROBBERY

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Corey bought six counterfeited Rolex watches in one week after word got out that a teenage novice was working the night shift alone.

The scam cost the shop $4,000 and made Corey into somewhat of an expert Rolex appraiser himself.

1. DECEPTIVE DIAMONDS

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"Old Man" Harrison lost over $30,000 in the seventies when cubic zirconias first hit the market. Not being able to tell these synthetic jewels apart from real diamonds, he and other pawn shops made severe losses in the early days of their arrival.

It seems even veterans and experts make mistakes when it comes to authenticating vintage objects. Which of these episodes do you remember?

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