A woman who bought a trunk at a small shop for $90 was later told by an expert it's a designer piece worth as much as $20,000

  • Virginia Chamlee is a writer and thrifter who once found an authentic Goyard trunk at a small shop.

  • She paid $90 for the piece, and later estimated it to be worth at least $20,000.

  • She's also found luxury clothes, authentic art, and other high-value pieces over the years.

Virginia Chamlee might be a lifelong thrifter, but nothing could have prepared her for finding one of her dream items tucked away in an unassuming shed behind a mom-and-pop antique shop.

Speaking with Insider, the 38-year-old writer recalled a day seven years ago when she had been shopping at estate sales in Orange Park, Florida. While stuck in traffic on the way home, she noticed a sign on the side of the road advertising "old wicker" products like furniture.

After some internal debate, curiosity got the best of her.

"I'm not really superstitious, but sometimes I don't want to press my luck. I had found some really cool stuff at the estate sales, so I wasn't planning to go anywhere else," she said. "But I had nowhere to go, so it was sort of kismet."

Though she didn't find anything inside the tiny store, its owner urged her to check out a shed in the back. It was there that she noticed a piece of luggage that looked a lot like a designer trunk.

"I gasped audibly," Chamlee said. "My grandmother was with me and she was like, 'Be quiet, why are you screaming?' I thought it must not be real; it was too good of a find. But I figured I would just buy it anyway because if it was fake, it was a really good fake."

So she paid $90 to take the trunk home and later reached out to a luggage expert who specializes in Louis Vuitton and Goyard pieces. After viewing photos, she said, he confirmed to Chamlee that she had found an authentic Goyard trunk, likely worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The Goyard trunk thrifted by Virginia Chamlee.
The Goyard trunk thrifted by Virginia Chamlee.Virginia Chamlee

Chamlee said she believes the store was selling the trunk on consignment, as the shop owner told her a local woman dropped it off after finding the piece in her mom's attic.

"It has drawers inside and there are little compartments for jewelry," Chamlee said of the trunk, which she describes as a "bucket-list" find. "It's actually useful in addition to being beautiful."

As for what it's worth, Chamlee noted that it's tough to put an exact price on the trunk. Some experts who have appraised it also requested to buy it from her, so they could have been "low-balling" its value, she said. But as an expert on designer pieces herself, Chamlee has an idea.

"My hunch is that someone would pay at least $20,000 for it," she said, noting that she's seen comparable Goyard trunks sell for around that price. "But I don't ever intend to sell it. I joke that I'll be the old woman who lived in her trunk."

Inside the Goyard trunk thrifted by Virginia Chamlee.
Inside the Goyard trunk thrifted by Virginia Chamlee.Virginia Chamlee

Chamlee says she keeps the trunk in the corner of her bedroom on display with a few select items on top of it, like photos of her late grandmother.

"She's the one who got me into thrifting, and she raised me from the time I was two months old as a single mom," Chamlee said. "It's almost like a little shrine to her. She was with me when I found it, and it has an M on it — I refer to her as Meemaw."

The Goyard trunk in Virginia Chamlee's home.
The Goyard trunk in Virginia Chamlee's home.Virginia Chamlee

Chamlee says that while she loves thrifting in general, finding designer pieces is her niche — a skill she's honed over decades. In addition to her trunk, Chamlee has found other designer luggage, art from the Smithsonian's permanent collection, luxury clothes, and more.

She's also mixed her passion with her career, writing a book about thrifting called "Big Thrift Energy."

 

"I've thrifted all over the country, especially since my book came out, and there are treasures to be found everywhere," Chamlee said.

Read the original article on Insider