1. David Choe’s Facebook Murals
In 2005, a small internet startup called Facebook asked David Choe to paint graphic sexual murals in the interior of their first Silicon Valley office. Although he thought the Facebook business model was “ridiculous and pointless,” Choe, an inveterate gambler, chose to receive company stock in lieu of cash payment for his work. This proved to be one of the smartest decisions he ever made. Choe’s shares were valued at approximately $200 million on the eve of Facebook’s 2012 IPO
2. 1st Edition Princess Diana Beanie Baby
If you picked up a first edition “Princess” Beanie Baby in 1997, you did the right thing. There have since been books written about this pocket sized purple bear which is selling on ebay for multiple thousands of dollars.
3. Ferdinand and Isabella
In 1492, Christopher Columbus wanted to sail to India, but in the wrong direction. The only problem was he didn’t have enough money. After two years of refusing to fund Columbus’s harebrained plane, the King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, finally agreed to front the cash.
Over the next 300 years, as Spain ruled South America, the silver that was returned to the King and Queen was enough to pay for entire armies.
4. Andy Bechtolsheim
In 1998, Andy Bechtolsheim, a Silicon Valley local, invested $100,000 to fund a little company called Google.
Now, it is 2012 and Bechtolsheim’s one hundred grand is worth $1.7 billion. Well done Mr. Bechtolsheim. Well done.
5. The Google Masseuse Multimillionaire
Mr. Bechtosheim wasn’t the only one to collect from Google. After a nasty divorce in 1999, masseuse Bonnie Brown picked up a part-time job kneading the backs of the then 40 employee startup Google. Bonnie worked for five years making $450 a week before cashing in her stock options worth several million dollars.
7. Honus Wagner Card
The year is 1910 and you stumble over to the local tobacco shop for a pack of smokes. Inside your pack you find a small set of commemorative baseball cards, and low-and-behold you got your hands on a Honus Wagner card. You take this card, slip it in some plastic, and place it between the pages of your thickest dictionary. 102 years later that card is worth 2.8 billion dollars.
The reason Wagner’s card was so rare in these packs (and now so valuable) is because he had it pulled his card pulled from production because he didn’t want to promote the sale of Tobacco.
8. The Greatest Picture Frame Ever
In 1989, an art collector spent $4 on a lousy painting at a Pennsylvania flea market because he liked the frame. When he pulled out the painting, the collector discovered a first printing of The Declaration of Independence. Two years later it was auctioned of at Slotheby’s for $2,420,000. Talk about ROI.