CLEVELAND, Ohio — How would you react if you inherited a painting from your grandfather only to find out it’s actually worth millions? What would you do if someone left you a collection of 250,000 ancient Indian arrowheads once coveted by John Wayne?
Those are the types of stories Fox Business Network’s Jamie Colby tells each week on “Strange Inheritance,” the network’s only entertainment program in a sea of financial news and market analysis.
The show, now in its fourth season, spans the globe in search of unique stories about how families deal with what their loved ones leave behind, whether it’s a long-lost treasure, priceless family heirloom or bizarre collection.
“I think it’s a reality show that people can believe is real and not scripted,” Colby said. “People always want to imagine themselves a situation where they come upon some inheritance that can be life changing.”
That’s what happened to a group of brothers in New Jersey on a recent episode. In the basement of one of their homes, there was an unremarkable painting of a woman passed out on a chair from their long deceased grandfather’s old house that just sat there for years. It wasn’t until the family wanted to set up a ping pong table in the basement when they decided to sell it.
A funny thing happened at the estate auction. Bidding quickly blew past the original estimate of $800, the price eventually reaching six figures before it sold at $1.1. million. Turns out, the painting was an early work from a certain Dutch master artist.
“It wasn’t signed Rembrandt, it doesn’t look like a Rembrandt. No one really knew for sure, but (the winning bidder) must have known there was a missing painting in Europe, one of five that Rembrandt painted as a teenager about the five senses,” Colby said.
Not everybody on the show sells their inheritance for profit.
Also this season, Colby tells the story of a white family in Virginia who inherited the bible of Nat Turner, famous leader of a slave rebellion in 1831.
“They could’ve gotten millions of dollars for that,” Colby said. Instead, the family donated the bible to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. “They told me, ‘This is America’s bible.’ We would not profit from slavery. It needs to be in the Smithsonian.”
Added Colby, “I’m so impressed by people who don’t immediately want to cash in, who want to do the right thing and who want to preserve history.”
The show packs an emotional punch too as families are able to connect on a deeper level to deceased loved ones through their possessions.