Even during the peak of its production, Navajo weavings were uncommon and quite hard to find. A single blanket could take an experienced weaver about a year to create and this does not include the amount of time it took to raise the sheep the wool came from. While they are known to be expensive, you would never believe how much an unemployed man from California made out of his Navajo blanket.
Loren Krytzer was living on $200 per month when he sold a seemingly worthless blanket for $1.5 million. He discovered the worth of this Navajo blanket while watching an Antiques Roadshow episode in which a similar blanket was appraised.
The Rags to Riches Story of Loren Krytzer
Loren Krytzer entered the California auction room broke and unemployed, surviving on disability payments. He walked out a millionaire in just 77 seconds, and this is all because of a blanket.
Krytzer discovered a forgotten old family heirloom, a Navajo blanket from the 1800s sitting in his closet for seven years. Surprisingly, it was worth $1.5 million. The simple woven blanket changed his life forever. And it came at the perfect time. Krytzer was scraping by in a shack on the outskirts of California’s Liona Valley, having lost a leg in a near-fatal car accident and depending on disability for his day-to-day needs. (Source: CNBC)
How Did Loren Krytzer Come into Possession of a $1.5 Million Blanket?
He inherited the blanket at first because no one in his family recognized its worth. After the passing of his grandmother, he had gone to her house to collect the books she had promised him.
Everything was already pillaged through by my sister and my mother.Loren Krytzer
The last bag in the house contained two blankets passed down from his great-grandmother: a softer Hudson’s Bay blanket and the Navajo blanket his grandmother used to lie out on the porch when her cat was having kittens. Krytzer’s sister grabbed the former, and the latter fell to the floor.
I said, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ and she said ‘I don’t want that, that dirty old thing?’ I picked it up put it in my closet and there it sat for seven years.Loren Krytzer
What Happened to Loren Krytzer?
Despite having built a successful career as a freelance carpenter, a car accident in 2007 brought that to an end.
After the crash, he spent the better part of a year in the hospital on dialysis after the crash. Infection and a worsening prognosis resulted from nerve damage and microfractures in his left foot.
I kept trying to do the best I could, and finally, it got so bad they said, ‘Now we have to cut your foot off.’Loren Krytzer
Even after the amputation, he was repeatedly denied disability and had to send his children to live with grandparents in Louisiana.
I mean, what do you do? I had kids to take care of, no money, you know? Nothing saved up or nothing like that.Loren Krytzer
Disability eventually provided just enough money for him to move into a friend’s shack in Leona Valley, near Palmdale, California. Krytzer negotiated his rent down to $700, leaving him with about $200 per month to live on, plus whatever shared income he received from his then-girlfriend Lisa.
It was rough. I mean, we would literally go to Costo and get a Costco hot dog and a Coke cause they were $1.50.Loren Krytzer