They say another man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For antique dealers, that sentiment is particularly true as they literally make a profit by selling things that people no longer want.
In 2018, a Canadian antique dealer bought a piece of art found by a homeless man as a kind gesture since he really didn’t think the artwork that had been found in the garbage would be worth much. When he realized his mistake, however, he did something surprisingly honorable.
In September of 2018, Adam Gillian walked into Curiosity Inc., an antique store in Edmonton, Canada. The 38-year-old homeless man had found an old photo of the Disney character Bambi in someone’s trash can and hoped to sell it at the antique shop.
A Way To Earn Money
According to Alexander Archbold, who owns the shop, he had met Gillian before. On a number of occasions, Gillian had brought in a variety of items he had found in the garbage while out on the street and sold them to earn a little bit of money for food.
From Trash To Treasure
“I own an antique store, over the past two years Adam has come into the shop with things he has found in the trash and on occasion he has turned up treasure,” Archbold wrote about the 38-year-old on a GoFundMe account he set up for Gillian.
Small Acts Of Kindness
The items Gillian brings aren’t always worth a lot of money, but Archbold still buys them anyway. According to Archbold, he usually buys them because Gillian is always friendly and kind. He also wants to make sure the 38-year-old has some money to buy food and other necessities.
The Most Recent Find
So when Gillian turned up at the shop with the old framed photo of Bambi in late September of 2018, Archbold wanted to help him out. Gillian explained that he had tried to sell the drawing at a few other shops. Sadly, no one else would even look at what he had to offer them.
The Only One Who Would Listen
Gillian remembered Archbold had always been kind and fair with him, so he decided to bring him the old drawing. “They just told him to leave because, he said, as a street person they don’t take you seriously,” Archbold said Gillian told him that day.
Making A Deal
So Archbold agreed to buy the photo for $20. “I thought, well, it’s Bambi. I can probably clean it up,” Archbold told the Star Edmonton about the transaction. “I got the impression that he just really didn’t feel like a person. And that just really made me sad.”
Hoping For A Small Profit
Archbold figured the artwork of Bambi was a replica of an animation cell and assumed it was probably from either the 1980s or 1990s. If he replaced the broken frame and cleaned the old picture up, he thought he could probably sell it for $80 to $100.
Inspecting The Piece Of ‘Trash’
Later that day, Archbold took the photo out of the frame to inspect it further. According to the antique dealer, he realized that the piece of ‘trash’ that he had just bought wasn’t actually garbage at all after he flipped the photo over and saw the back of it.
An Authentic Piece Of History
On the back of the drawing, Archbold found an old certificate of authenticity. What he thought was just a replica drawing was actually an authentic animation cell from the Disney classic. What was even more impressive was the copyright date printed on the back of the celluloid sheet.
A Rare Treasure
‘Bambi’ had been released in 1942, and the animation cell had a copyright date of 1937. At that moment, Archbold realized the artwork was worth a lot more than just $100. “I just thought oh my goodness. It’s the real thing and it’s worth a lot more than I thought it was,” Archbold said.
An Honorable Antique Dealer
Most people would have been thrilled about the massive profit, but Archbold’s next thought was that he had to share that profit with Gillian. “I have to do something to help this guy out,” Archbold said was his reaction after realizing the photo’s true value.
The Right Thing To Do
“When I knew it was gonna sell for a lot of money, I knew it wasn’t right to take it all,” Archbold told CNN. At that point, Archbold decided to give Gillian half of whatever he made from selling the piece. Soon after, he listed the genuine animation cell online.
A man from New York, who explained he had once been homeless, ended up buying the drawing for $3,700. Archbold wanted to follow through on his promise and give Gillian half of the proceeds, but first he had to find him to do that.
Tracking Gillian Down
At that point, Archbold only knew Gillian’s first name, so he went out driving around Edmonton looking for him. “I drove up and down every single alley. I went by shelters. I went everywhere I could go to try and find him,” Archbold said about the mission.
A Heartwarming Surprise
Eventually, he found someone who knew Gillian after speaking to several homeless people in the area. That person relayed a message to Gillian, who then went to see Archbold at his shop. It was then that he learned that Archbold wanted to give him $1,700.35 and bought him lunch.
Above And Beyond
“Wow, that’s awesome,” Gillian said when Archbold surprised him. “I don’t know what to say.” Yet Archbold didn’t stop there. He helped Gillian get an ID and reactivate an old bank account to deposit the money. Archbold also set up a GoFundMe account to help Gillian get off the streets for the winter.
Reconnecting With Family
So far, the fundraiser has raised almost $18,000. Gillian’s family soon saw news reports about the incredible story and reached out to get in touch with him. “I didn’t know if he was dead or alive,” Gillian’s mother, Patti, told CTV Edmonton. “And I didn’t know how to get in touch with anybody to find him.” Gillian, who is a father and used to install drywall, fell into a depression and lost his job. After his wife and kids left him, he ended up on the streets. Now, he has plans to move back to his family in Ontario.
Showing Gillian The Ropes
Before leaving, Archbold gave him contact details for social services in Ontario and several job listings. He also taught him what antique dealers look for in case he wants to make a career out of selling antiques. “He does have a talent for it. He always brought me neat stuff he found in the trash. I hope he sticks with it,” Archbold said. “I go to people’s houses and dig through stuff they think is garbage and buy it off them. You’re just picking it up after they’ve already thrown it out,” he told Gillian before dropping him off at the train station.
Empathy For The Homeless
According to Archbold, he’s done so much to help because he knows what it’s like to be homeless. “I was homeless when I was in grade seven. I had to help pay my parents’ bills so I had to sell antiques on the side,” Archbold said. “He’s a very kind, humble person so I’m sure he’ll have no trouble finding work. I’m rooting for him.”