WEST FARGO, N.D. — It's every bargain shopper's dream: spend a few bucks at a rummage sale only to find out later that what you bought is worth thousands of dollars.
For one Detroit Lakes man, that dream just came true.
David Hiney, an insurance agent at the local Farmers Insurance office, learned on Saturday that he's been literally sitting on a small fortune. An old lounge chair he bought for $40 at a rummage sale in town back in 1982 — a chair that's just been sitting in his basement ever since — is valued at $25,000.
Hiney says he "just about fell over" when he was given the news. He heard it from a very reliable source — straight out of the mouth of a professional appraiser with "Antiques Roadshow." The popular PBS television series was filmed Saturday at the Bonanzaville pioneer village in West Fargo, and Hiney and his wife, Teri, were there with the chair.
Hiney received the appraisal on camera, as he was being filmed for an episode of "Antiques Roadshow." The episode will air during the show's 2020 season.
"It was so cool," Hiney says of the whole experience. "When we first got there ... we walked right up. We had VIP tickets. We were the very first to be filmed."
He was grateful for that, as there were thousands of people waiting in a long line to get their antiques appraised that day, and only a relatively small number of appraisals were chosen to be filmed. Nearly 7,000 people had applied for tickets to the Bonanzaville taping and, of those, about 3,000 were selected to receive tickets. People with tickets could get their items appraised, but were not guaranteed to get on camera.
Hiney believes the show's producers chose to film his chair's appraisal because of its rarity and high value. Also, Hiney did not know beforehand how much it was worth, so there was sure to be an element of happy surprise to his segment.
And there sure was. The appraiser determined that the chair was a "very, very, very rare piece," says Hiney — "the type of piece that's usually only found in museums."
Throughout the 45-minute taping of his segment (which will likely only be a few minutes long after it's edited for TV), Hiney learned that the chair was created by Arne Vodder, a distinguished Danish furniture designer. Vodder's work was admired by "the richest of the rich" around the 1950s and '60s, the appraiser told Hiney. A high-end chaise lounge, the chair has not been refurbished or significantly damaged or altered over the years, and is in good condition.
"I asked him (the appraiser) three times if he was sure it was real," Hiney says, "and he said, 'I guarantee it's real.'"
The appraiser was certain even without seeing the "maker's mark" on the chair with his own two eyes. They didn't find the mark during filming, Hiney says, but the appraiser instructed him to look for it under the straps after he had the chair back home and, Monday, he found it.
With that evidence of authenticity, Hiney says the appraiser told him "he'd give it a conservative estimate of $20,000 to $25,000." It could easily go for more than that at auction.
Hiney was floored to learn that the old seat he used to park himself on to watch games on TV was such a prized piece of art. In more recent years, it's just been collecting dust in his basement.
Out of curiosity, Hiney did some internet research on the chair a number of years ago. He came across pictures of Vodder's works, and recognized his chair as having a Vodder-type style, but figured it was probably a knockoff.
"Take care of this chair, it's very valuable," the chair's sellers had told him when he bought it in 1982, but he didn't think much of that comment at the time. He wanted the chair for its mid-century modern style, which he likes, and its low $40 price tag.
Now he knows just how right those sellers were — the chair is very valuable. But even with that new knowledge, and even though he hardly ever uses the chair anymore, Hiney has no plans to sell it.
The chair came from a local family and has been in Detroit Lakes for decades, he says. Plus, it was made by a Danish designer, and, "This area is so heavily Scandinavian... I feel like this area is where it belongs. I don't think it should go anywhere else. It belongs in Detroit Lakes."