True Story: How to Turn Four Bucks into $2.42 Million

By Matthew Milner, on Wednesday, July 26, 2023

What you’re about to read is a crazy story. And it’s 100% true. Here we go.

In 1989, a man was browsing through a flea market in Pennsylvania.

After coming across an old, torn painting, he decided to buy it for $4 so he could use the frame it came in.

But when he ripped out the old painting, he got a surprise — and what happened next is the stuff of legends. Furthermore, it explains why the wealthiest 1% keep getting richer.

To learn more, read on.

Wait… What’s This Behind the Painting?

You see, hidden behind the back of the painting, he found a folded-up piece of paper.

Although he couldn’t figure out what it was, he decided to hold onto it.

But two years later, he showed it to a friend, who insisted on bringing it to a professional. And considering what happened next, he might be the greatest friend anyone’s ever had.

You see, at his friend’s prodding, the owner brought the document to a specialist at Sotheby’s. And here’s what Sotheby’s discovered:

This crumpled-up piece of paper was one of the most significant documents in American history:

The Declaration of Independence!

As The New York Times reported in 1991:

"The discovery of any first-printing copy of the declaration, even a fragmentary one or a poor copy, would be exciting… But on this one, the condition is beyond reproach…”

A careful inspection revealed that the ink was still wet when the document was originally folded. That was further evidence that this is one of the original “Dunlap Broadsides” — printed by John Dunlap, the Official Printer of the Continental Congress, in his Philadelphia shop on July 4th, 1776, working through the night to produce an estimated 200 copies.

In June 1991, this document was purchased at a Sotheby’s auction for $2.42 million.

In other words, the seller turned his $4 flea-market find into more than $2 million.

Not bad…

But Wait, There’s More

But then, because $2.42 million isn’t already a crazy-enough number, here’s what happened next.

In 2000, this artifact was sold to Norman Lear, the producer of the TV show, “All in the Family” — for $8.14 million.

This sky-high figure makes sense. With nearly all the Declarations of Independence residing in public museums and institutions like the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and The National Archives, dealers consider these documents “unobtainable.”

So if one of them becomes available in the private market, it will attract significant interest.

And now you can own a piece of an original Declaration of Independence — for less than $50.

An Alternative to Stocks and Bonds

To explain why this might be a worthwhile avenue to explore, let me explain how the rich invest.

As I've written in recent months (for example, here and here), the rich invest differently.

They don't have typical 60/40 portfolios. And this difference might explain why they keep getting richer.

You see, according to the Motley Fool, the rich mainly invest in "alternative assets."

These alternatives include private startups and private real estate deals – the kind we focus on here at Crowdability.

But they also include “collectibles,” like rare Declarations of Independence…

Investing in Collectibles for $100

Recently, a new type of website has emerged to give ordinary people the ability to invest small amounts of money into collectibles.

Essentially, just like you can buy a $100 stake in a startup, now you can buy $100 worth of a vintage Bordeaux, a classic piece of art from Keith Haring, or a multi-million-dollar historical document.

One such website is called Rally Rd. In November 2021, Rally Rd offered investors the opportunity to buy shares in an original Declaration of Independence for about $25 per share. At that price, the document was valued at $2 million.

But shares today trade at nearly $50 — up about 100%.

That values the document at about $4 million.

If you’re interested in learning more and potentially investing, click here »


Keep in mind, all the typical caveats about investing apply here:

For example, don't invest more than you can afford to lose, and be sure to dip your toe into the water before diving in.

Furthermore, many alternative investments aren't entirely "liquid." That means they can't necessarily be converted into cash at the snap of your fingers.

So don't invest your rent or grocery money into these offerings.

But if you're looking to invest like the rich – and you get excited about the idea of owning an historic American document – this could be a worthwhile avenue to explore!

Happy Investing.

Best Regards,



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Tags: Alternative assets Flea market

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