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

  • Share
  • Read Later
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.”