Treasure Hunter Has Last Laugh: Roman Helmet Sells for $3 Million

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An auctioneer for Christie's sells The Crosby Garrett Helmet on October 7, 2010 in London, England.

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

That’s the best justification for trolling around with a metal detector we’ve ever heard.

Today, a Christie’s auction in London, the helmet, which carried a pre-sale estimate of £300,000, sold for more than 2 million British pounds (or, about $3.2 million).

An unemployed, metal detector enthusiast in his 20s uncovered the ancient Roman helmet last May while he was trolling around with a detector on some farmland on the outskirts of the Cumbrian hamlet of Crosby Garrett in the U.K. — now, he’s a millionaire.

But while it was a victory for the metal-detecting man, the sale of the helmet was a loss to a small museum who saw the prized artifact slip through their grasps and go to an anonymous phone bidder.

The museum had gathered £1.7 million from gifts and grant promises to put toward the helmet, but alas, it was not enough. Senior curator, Andrew Machay told The Guardian, “Cumbria has had a few bad knocks recently, and this fundraising campaign was a good news story for the area, so this is a real blow.”

He added, “People will be terribly disappointed – we had thousands of pounds coming in every day, and children literally emptying their piggy banks.”


Working in radio I have seen many flips and many different tactics to get attention but nothing like this. With Time covering it and Rolling Stone, news organizations across North America are talking about it (unfortunately). Hopefully they have a good product to keep all this attention when the marathon ends... 


I worked in radio for ten years.  This tactic is used almost exclusively in cases where a radio station is going to change its format.  So when 105.7 stops tormenting listeners with this song, it should be coming back up as something else.  If it's Latino Mix now, it could be country, urban, or talk when that song comes off.