This gentleman thought he’d try his luck with an old family heirloom and take it down to the PBS Antiques Roadshow just to see how much he could get for it.
In 2016, Ted Kuntz, an elderly gentleman, brought in what he thought was just a very old and simple-looking blanket that was “just lying on the back of a chair” to the widely televised antiques show, in Tuscan, for evaluation.
When questioned by the astonished Donald Ellis, who is an internationally pre-eminent dealer in antique North American Indian art, Ted said that he did not know much about it.
Ellis starts by asking: “Well Ted, did you notice when you showed this to me, I kind of stopped breathing a little bit?” And a surprised Ted says, “Yeah, you did!”
The striped blanket turned out to be an extremely rare mid-19th-century traditional chief’s blanket. “They were made for Ute chiefs, and they were very, very valuable at the time,” said Ellis.
Specifically, it’s a Navajo-Ute first-phase chief’s blanket, with probably less than 100 in existence today. The blanket, colored with valuable indigo dyes, is over 150 years old, and according to Ellis:
“This is Navajo weaving in its purist form. This is the beginning of Navajo weaving. Not only that, but the condition of this is unbelievable.”
“It’s made from hand-woven wool, but it’s so finely done, it’s like silk. It would repel water.”
“It’s an extraordinary piece of art, extremely rare. It’s the most important thing that’s ever come into the Roadshow that I’ve seen.”
The prized blanket was apparently given to Ted’s family by Kit Carson, who was an American frontier legend. The rare blanket was appraised at $350,000 on a bad day and $500,000 on a good day. And if authenticated that it was Kit Carson’s, it would push the price up by another 20 percent!
“Well sir, you have a national treasure,” Ellis tells an almost speechless Ted.
“I can’t believe it,” said Ted, wiping away some tears. “Wow! I am amazed. I am flabbergasted.”
Watch Ted’s expression when he hears what his blanket is worth!