tv Trish Regan Primetime FOX Business April 13, 2019 2:00am-3:00am EDT
happy. they say we have open arms. let's see if they have open arms. lou: well, that's what you call giving people what they want. thanks for being with us. we appreciate you joining us. >> 100,000 creepy crawlers... >> spiders that'll cover your whole face. >> all collected from the far reaches of the world. >> wait. is it alive? >> talk about a bug's life. >> walt disney went into the museum and wanted to buy the collection. >> but there's a bigger story behind this bizae bequest. >> that was an interesting and eye-opening experience all of its own. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby, and right now i'm driving on the outskirts of colorado springs, colorado.
i'm looking for the turnoff to a strange inheritance which includes, believe me, one of the most unique collections. and my marker? it's a giant beetle. >> hi, jamie. >> how are you? i'm fine. how are you? my name's rj steer. in 2007, my grandfather john may passed away and left the largest privately owned collection of insects in the world. ♪ at the time i didn't know what the rest of the family might want to do with it. >> it's housed in this little museum. nestled in a small canyon, it's one of those classic american roadside attractions. of all the strange things you might like to inherit one day... wow! >> ...a few thousand drawers, canisters, and cases full of bugs is probably not on your list. would it change your mind if i told you it's been appraised for millions? [ record scratches ] somebody tells you you're
sitting on how much in terms of value of this collection of insects? >> there are some insects that have never been seen since, there are some insects that are thought to be extinct but not confirmed, but the collection was assessed between $5 million or $6 million. >> for bugs? >> for this collection. >> this whole place feels like a time capsule. >> pull one out. >> to the may family, the collection is a priceless legacy. but i learn it's also a scientific marvel of sorts. >> you must be jamie. >> hey! are you sam? >> sam. >> sam johnson has been coming to the may natural history museum for more than six decades. the museum inspired a childhood passion that paved the way for a career as an entomologist and high school biology teacher. >> i bring my biology classes here every year, and we look at literally the best examples in the world. >> this place is old school. wooden display cases with
gooseneck lamps... the handwritten descriptions... and a collection that includes many insect species that have never been seen again. i've never seen so many insects. >> each carries with it this incredible story about its niche and its environment. >> have we spanned the globe here? >> oh, absolutely. it's from everywhere. >> the story behind this collection is almost as spine-tingling as this spider, which happens to be where the tale begins. it was captured by the original benefactor of this strange inheritance in 1903. james may was a british national who fought in the second boer war in africa. he was shot, wounded, and left for dead. thankfully, may's life was saved by a tribe of zulus, and during his convalescence, he passes away the hours enjoying a boyhood pastime -- bug collecting and pinning. when he regains his health, he
continues a life of adventure, which includes his obsession with bugs. rj steer is james' great-grandson. >> he immigrated to canada, which was still part of the british crown at the time, and worked as a park ranger in manitoba and hunted big game, and also continued to avidly collect. >> james gets married and has three sons, only one of whom -- john, born in 1915 -- shares james' love for bugs. carla harris is john may's daughter. he went on trips with his father collecting around canada. he certainly supported his father that way and loved the collection. >> when the great depression hits, james loses his job as a park ranger, and money is tight, but his teenage son john, who, unlike his father, has a head for business, figures out how to turn dad's unusual hobby into a money-making venture...as a traveling bug exhibit.
>> john may learned how to create airtight wooden display cases from an old german cabinet-maker and the practical realities of traveling with a collection. >> by 1930, the entire family hits the road, in both canada and the u.s., with their traveling displays of bugs -- all fronted by 15-year old john may. he was a teenager, and he had grown men working for him? >> there's a whole group of men who were working as roustabouts. they were destitute. >> so he helped a lot of people along the way, and he also intrigued a lot of people with this collection. >> he wanted it to be interesting to the general public, and i really think he did a good job of it. >> by 1936, john starts his own family with wife, vicky, and before you know it, their three daughters join the entourage as they bounce from fairground to exhibition hall -- with many of their shows drawing standing-room only crowds. >> i remember topeka, kansas,
a lot and des moines, iowa. those were big fairs. we went to expositions in madison square garden. we were in rockefeller center. >> while john focuses on expanding their traveling show, his father, james, collects more specimens, often by trading them through the mail. >> the insect collectors of the time relied heavily on missionaries in borneo or maybe the local postmaster in the middle of africa somewhere, and they'd just swap specimens. >> and so it goes through the depression. but by the early 1940s, after more than a decade of living like nomads, the may clan is ready to settle down -- john and vicky in particular. >> whenever we were at a fair, my mom, she'd have to find water spigots and haul buckets of water to wash our clothes. he wanted a permanent museum so he wouldn't have to continue the very strenuous fair circuit. >> during their travels, the entire may family fell in love with colorado's scenery.
but there's another reason john bought a piece of ranch land here. >> colorado is the perfect location. it's already a dry climate, so the specimens are preserved much better. >> true to form, john may designs the museum that would exhibit his father, james may's, collection. john even helps build it himself. rj, an architect, is amazed at what he was able to do. >> my grandfather literally taught himself the building techniques in order to construct it. he figured out how to salvage, reuse, adapt any pieces or parts that he could get. >> with an eye to the future, the shrewd businessman insists on paying extra for something he figured he needed to expand his roadside attraction. >> he arranged and made sure of the water rights. he built six reservoirs, a series of ditches accordingly, all learning, of course, how to operate the heavy machinery to do so. >> on may 1, 1952, the may natural history museum
opens its doors. the may family is finally home, only to lose their master bug collector when he dies in 1956 at the age of 72. >> we probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 specimens and, more or less, my great-grandfather's legacy is that he is the one who collected essentially all of it. >> the future of this strange inheritance is in the hands of john may, who has even bigger plans for it. those plans include the biggest name in theme parks. >> walt disney wanted to buy the collection. >> that's next. >> but first our "strange inheritance" quiz question... is it...? the answer in a moment.
[ wind howls ] [ bird caws ] >> now the answer to our "strange inheritance" quiz question... it's, "b," 22 inches. that's the record length of a chan's megastick -- with its front legs extended. ♪ >> when james may, one of the world's leading bug collectors, dies in 1956, his son john takes charge of the collection. john's already built a museum
in colorado to display his dad's bugs, but now has bigger aspirations. so it's with keen interest that john reads in the paper that the great walt disney is in colorado. john gets in touch and invites him to the museum, with the idea that maybe he can lease disney part of the may bug collection, and it could be a hit at disneyland, which had opened the previous year. to everyone's delight, walt himself agrees to a visit. john's daughter, carla, who's 13 at the time, is there when the legend arrives. >> walt disney went into the museum and dad took him all through the collection, and i trailed around behind watching this whole thing, and he was very impressed. he wanted to buy the collection. >> john sees an opening. he and disney discuss terms. john only wants to lease it, with his father's name on it. walt stands firm -- sell or no deal. >> dad said, "if we do sell it, will we at least get credit?
will there be a plaque saying this is james frederick william may's collection," and this sort of thing? and disney said, "no, they don't give credit to anything in disneyland. it's all disney." >> john walks away, but, like disney, expands in florida. the may family opens a second bug museum in the popular theme park weeki wachee springs. he straps his signature beetle onto his pickup and drives it cross-country. >> what did you think as kids when you had this big beetle to transport on top of the car? >> [ laughs ] well, it's a real traffic-stopper. it really is. but there he is. >> he thought if he could lease in a good location, we would make a lot more money, but there, he had to build special cases out of metal. i mean, it was a major project to be able to display without the whole collection being destroyed. >> ultimately, john may's venture in florida runs into the same problem he faced with disney. >> the reason that we left florida was because abc-paramount took over weeki wachee springs, and they
didn't want us there privately. they wanted to either buy it or we had to leave. >> in the mid 1960s, john carts his bug collection back to colorado, but the experience makes him realize he needs more than a bug museum to draw customers. so he decides to put in a campsite. >> the original parcel was 180 acres. my grandfather added onto the land whenever anything became available somewhere in the neighborhood of 950 acres for all of it together. >> eventually he built on the plateau above the museum, and we ended up with a 500-site campground. >> thank goodness he tied up those water rights decades before. now his bug museum is not just a place for science buffs or curious road-trippers. tack on the campground, and it's an overnight adventure. the hercules beetle statue, which made the trip back from florida, is an irresistible draw. inside the museum,
there's a 17-inch walkingstick bug... moths with a 10-inch wingspan... butterflies in every color of the rainbow... and the black widow spider that entomologist sam johnson says deserves its deadly rep. so the black widow is not just a myth? >> no, it's not a myth at all, although the toxicity, it varies from individual to individual, but they've killed a lot of people. i had a friend who was this close to dead before the emts got there and saved her life. >> okay, these bugs are giving me the creeps... even before sam johnson insists i try my hand at bug pinning. so, sam, pinning 101, and you had to pick locusts? you had to pick the locusts? >> [ laughs ] i just couldn't resist. >> luckily, sam is joking, and we move along to something more tolerable. if i see correctly, you picked something much more beautiful. >> yeah, yeah. this is weidemeyer's admiral.
this is a butterfly. >> beautiful butterfly. >> so we can spread its wings like that. >> oh, my. >> and all we have to do then is take a pin. and i can put a pin, not through the wing but right next to the wing. see how you do here. put the pin just like i did through that paper. just right through there. that's good. real hard. good. you're like a lepidopterist. >> all right, at least i got through one. for decades the museum, with its quaint old-fashioned displays, continues to chug along, with an aging john in charge and various may family members working at it full time. but as the 21st century gets underway, interest in the museum and campground steadily drop off. and after vicky, john's faithful wife and fellow adventurer, passes away, it becomes clear to their kids that running a museum and a campground isn't easy for an octogenarian. >> he didn't like to delegate authority. he wanted to do it himself.
and so as he was declining in his last years, he couldn't do those things anymore, and during that time, the ranch began to degrade. >> on november 4, 2007, john may dies in his sleep at the age of 92. >> i was in the kitchen quietly doing dishes. he was in the room next to me. i could hear him breathing, and, all of a sudden, i heard my mother, who had died in 2000, clear as a bell saying, "we're going to leave soon," and walked into the room, and he died. my feeling was they were off to explore the universe. >> now john's earthbound heirs face a quandary. the bug museum is theirs, but can it survive? >> my family was contending with a tremendous amount of stress. >> that's next on "strange inheritance." >> here's another quiz question for you... is it a...?
[ wind howls ] [ bird caws ] >> and now the answer to our quiz question... it's an ant found in arizona. its venom is more powerful per sting than any other insect's. ♪ >> in 2007, when insect impresario john may dies, he leaves behind a strange inheritance -- a museum that contains thousands of bug specimens from around the world. many rare, some extinct. the museum's collection has been appraised at between $5 million and $6 million. but with dwindling attendance, the may family is doubtful
the museum can survive. carrie york worked throughout the years with grandfather john may, maintaining the museum's grounds. >> since the '70s, there had been a lot of changes, so i knew that i needed to increase my electric service and build new picnic tables. i had a thousand things i wanted to do and, you know, couldn't because of time and finances. >> the infrastructure isn't the only thing that's been declining. the books are a handwritten muddle. what needed the most improvement in the way he ran the business? >> everything was tied together. everything was convoluted. and that was quite a transition, especially throughout the inheritance phase. >> even more challenging, in the fall of 2008, americans are told we're on the verge of a second great depression. over the next couple of years, business slows to a crawl. by early 2012, it's painfully clear. something has to be done. >> my mom and my cousin continued doing the roles that
they had before, but contending with a tremendous amount of stress. >> from the time of the first great depression, when their grandfather and great-grandfather took their show on the road, those bugs had supported the may family. was it finally time to fold up the tent? >> i asked each person in turn what they thought they wanted to see happen to the existing operation and what they wanted out of it. that was an eye-opening experience all of its own. >> find out what happens as the family sits down over tea to have a civilized talk and the financial gusher that makes them all think twice. >> there's a joke in colorado that "whiskey's for drinking but water's for fighting." >> that's next on "strange inheritance." ♪ limu emu & doug look limu. a civilian buying a new car. let's go. limu's right. liberty mutual can save you money
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that's too tall, which can start a wildfire. wait... could it be? blimey, it is. it's smokey bear. what a legend. watch as he astutely ensures that there's no wind, and how he removes some of the debris to create a smaller, safer burning pile. take note of our fearless furry friend here, humans. he's watching you. smokey's done it again. smokey, voice-over: only you can prevent wildfires. [ wind howls ] >> now back to "strange inheritance." [ bird caws ] >> four years after the death of family patriarch, john may, the natural history museum which
bears his name is limping along. during a family meeting in february 2012, the heirs have to decide what to do. should they sell the land? close the bug museum? and if they keep it open, how are they going to get it back in shape? that's when they realize john may's true genius tying up all those water rights decades ago when he purchased the land for his museum and campground. >> there's a joke in colorado that "whiskey's for drinking but water's for fighting," 'cause water is so valuable. >> the estimated value of the land with that water? they're told $25 million. so what would you do? millions from the water, millions from the land... millions, perhaps, from the bug collection, too? i'm with you. i'm thinking it's time to take the money and run. the heirs of james and john take a vote. it's unanimous. the water money would be used
to keep the operation going. >> all eight of us essentially said the same thing, nearly word for word, and with such a unanimity, there was just really no question that it was worth a shot. >> rj steer, grandson of john, great-grandson of james, gives up his career as an architect to head the operation. >> in the back of your mind, did you think to yourself, "okay, we'll take a shot, but it's not gonna be easy"? >> we are literally standing in one man's 50 years' of effort and creation, and it takes a lot to get up off the floor, dust yourself off, and find things that need improving and things that need ending. >> the may legacy will soon find itself being fulfilled by a fourth generation -- all of them united by these crazy, creepy-crawlies. >> you hear very commonly when a business owner dies his children start fighting about it, or they start selling it off
right away or they run it into the ground. all of us are all totally invested in keeping the business going, keeping the museum open for people to enjoy. >> the heirs to this strange inheritance all vividly recall their grandfather james may, trusty butterfly net in hand, fascinating them with his stories and adventures of insect-hunting. he explained that most of the bugs he collected were docile, they were not poisonous, and they were even big enough to easily get ahold of. like the fella over here, the hercules beetle. it can lift 850 times its own weight, making it the strongest creature on earth for its size. try finding a roach motel big enough for a family of those. i'm jamie colby for "strange inheritance." remember -- you can't take it with you. do you have a "strange inheritance" story
you'd like to share with us? we'd love to hear it! send me an e-mail, or go to our website -- strangeinheritance.com. >> announcer: a veteran of the battle of the bulge squirrels away enough old military gear to supply a platoon. >> it was in boxes, gun cabinets, closets. >> they couldn't even get access to their master bathroom, it was so clogged with stuff. >> it was one of those finds you get once in a lifetime. >> announcer: uniforms, weapons, plus plenty of surprises. >> this is worth $50,000?! does it work? >> announcer: and what's up with this bullet-riddled log? >> it was usually wrapped in a blanket in a bathtub. >> in a bathtub? >> in a bathtub. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ]
>> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm driving along the southern california coastline in san diego. i'm here to meet a woman who says her strange inheritance took her on a journey to meet someone she never really got to know when he was alive -- her own father. >> my name is nancy crego-powers, and my father, arthur v. crego, left a collection that took him a lifetime to accumulate. >> for starters, nancy asks me to check out the oldest item in her father's collection. >> i want to show you where i keep the gun. >> in the bedroom? >> in the bedroom. uh, yeah, that could be dangerous. >> oh, look at that! it's so beautiful with the inlay. it's called a pennsylvania long rifle. >> handmade in philadelphia. it's probably circa 1776 or a little later. this was still being used in the battle of 1812. it meant so much to him, and it means a lot to me. >> nancy's family has a history
of military service going back to the revolutionary war. >> this is one of dozens of firearms in a huge cache of war relics left by nancy's father when he died in 2010. born in 1922 in a small town along new york's hudson river, art crego, an intense, scholarly boy, grows up fantasizing with his friends about military adventures. >> nancy we have pictures of him in makeshift world war i uniforms. i understand from a friend of my dad's they were called crego's army, and my dad was always in charge. >> art's re-enacting is encouraged by his mother, who buys him odds and ends at garage sales. >> she had interest in history, and i think that he got some of that from her. here he is all dressed up in full civil war regalia. >> how young is he here in this
picture? >> i'm guessing he's about 16. probably ordered all this stuff, and it cost him less $20. >> when world war ii breaks out, art enters the famed citadel military college in south carolina. it's there he falls in love with a vivacious 18-year-old named janet wade. >> my mother was attending the university of south carolina, and they met at a dance. >> art and janet get serious fast and tie the knot. shortly after d-day, art is shipped off to france as an infantryman in the final push to defeat nazi germany. you can tell how excited he was to be a part of our fighting force. >> he was very proud to be attached to patton's 10th armored. that was the most important thing, that he was under patton, and he admired patton immensely.
>> art gets his chance to head a real crego's army as a squad leader during the battle of the bulge in december 1944. american troops hold back a last-ditch german counteroffensive. >> he was right there on the front lines. >> during a 2-week period, 500 men in art's command unit are killed in action. he receives a marksmanship award and a bronze star medal for bravery. he decides to pursue a career in the military. ♪ war comes calling again, and art is ordered to korea as an ordnance company commander. >> 1953 appears, and he was gone in korea until i was a year old. >> two more children follow as art and his family move from one post to the next. for a while, art teaches military history at louisiana state and writes scholarly papers on civil war
artifacts. but during this period, trouble develops on the homefront as art's wife, janet, starts showing signs of bipolar disorder. >> there were weeks that she wouldn't get out of bed, and so here's dad, working full-time, and, you know, he's doing the laundry and everything else. >> your dad had so much to handle at home. do you think collecting became an escape? >> somebody else would pick up a book or watch a movie, but for him, it was his collection. >> he keeps receipts for just about everything. for a few hundred dollars, he buys this rare bilharz & hall rising breech carbine, made for the confederate army. using his skills as a military historian, art is able to turn the serial numbers on the weapons into the stories behind them. >> it was like a good mystery novel that he had to know the answer. well, who was this person that owned this? where had this man served?
what battles had he been in? >> for a few bucks, he buys these pennsylvania reserve brigade belt buckles and these shell jackets. he paid $5. he paid $10. i mean, you could see in the receipts how much he paid for this stuff. >> this strange item cost him less than $100 from a war-surplus dealer in the early 1960s. it's a tree trunk scarred with civil war ammunition. >> it was usually wrapped in a blanket, with twine, in a bathtub. >> in a bathtub? >> in a bathtub. that's where it usually sat. >> by 1969, lieutenant colonel crego has served his country in france, belgium, germany, korea, and thailand. he's ready to retire. he and janet set up home one last time, here along the california coast, in carmel. art's collection continues to swell with swords, insignias, and other military gear.
nancy doesn't even notice that because her mom has taken to indiscriminate hoarding. before long, nobody has any idea what's in the house. >> the house was full of stuff. there was stuff everywhere. >> after her mother dies in 2003, nancy comes to see a side of her father that she had never appreciated -- the curious intellectual, the writer, the romantic war historian. >> my dad's memory [snaps fingers] was sharp. he could tell you the year. he could tell you where it was manufactured. he just knew it. >> nancy decides she'll help her father catalog his collection. ultimately, she'll have to call in reinforcements. >> it was overwhelming! it was just falling out of closets and cupboards, and you'd open up a trunk, and there'd just be guns wrapped in newspaper from the 1950s. >> that's next. >> announcer: but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz
wendy: that's unacceptable. gordon: nearly 250,000 men and women in the u.s. catherine: will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. emily: that's unacceptable. laura: breast cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths for hispanic women. jacinte: breast cancer is unacceptable. bethany: unacceptable. lesa: unacceptable. jacqueline: unacceptable. wendy: help us save lives. lesa: together, with susan g. komen we're committed to reducing u.s. breast cancer deaths by half. melissa: and we're going to do it by 2026. catherine: support susan g. komen. catherine: join our fight. save lives. visit komen dot org slash unacceptable. lesa: failure is unacceptable. >> announcer: 80% of all civil war wounds were produced
by a single-shot, muzzle-loading rifle in the hands of foot soldiers. >> in 2003, retired colonel art crego is 81 years old. he's been into war memorabilia since childhood, but the extent of his collection is hidden from his daughter, nancy. art never talks much, his wife was a hoarder, and, well, things just get out of hand. nancy assumes the haphazard stacks of boxes in his house in carmel, california, are basically trash. but soon she and her husband, brooks, learn that buried in this heap are historical treasures. we bought all these little hang tags and encouraged her dad to recall the history about the collection. it was wonderful to watch the two of them. it became a project unto themselves. >> it was a fantastic experience to sit down with my dad, finally, and actually go through
the garage. i had about 200 items, between guns, swords, bayonets, hand guns, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. >> as nancy bonds with her dad, art asks her, his eldest child, to be the one who deals with his stuff when he's gone. he names nancy trustee of his estate. >> [ voice breaking ] when he was saying goodbye, you just could tell how much he cared about his items. they were almost like children. [ crying ] [ taps plays ] >> in june of 2010, art dies from complications of pneumonia at the age of 87. in a military ceremony, he's buried in nearby monterey, outfitted in his dress blue uniform. >> the last time i saw him, i said, "goodbye, dad." and i knew it was the last time [voice breaking] i was gonna see him. and he reached out...his arm,
and he said, "thank you," and he shook my hand, and it was that formal handshake of an officer and a gentleman. >> he's up interviewing all these military men from history. you know, he had research that he was doing that he never found the answer for, and i hope that he knows the answer now. >> did he tell you, "don't ever sell the collection"? >> no, but i couldn't bring myself to sell the collection until my dad died. >> now that he's gone, nancy has to figure out what to do. it's going to be a lot harder than she thought. turns out that art secreted all sorts of other stuff away in every place imaginable. >> it was just amazing the amount of items that he had, from the revolutionary war through a gun that was used in world war ii, and it was brand-new. it had been stored away in some warehouse for 50 years.
>> based on the receipts art left, nancy estimates he spent around $10,000 on his collection. but what's it worth now? and what do you do with it? nancy realizes she needs help. she reaches out to auctioneer brian witherell in sacramento. >> he called me back, and he said, "well, this collection -- will it fit in a s.u.v.?" and i go, "no." >> so you checked it out. >> yeah. it was overwhelming! it was just falling out of closets and cupboards, and you'd open up a trunk, and there'd just be guns wrapped in newspaper from the 1950s. we were on to one of those finds that you get once in a lifetime. >> how much work went into preparing for this auction? >> we catalogued probably 12 to 14 hours a day for 5 straight days, and then we photographed for probably another week or two after that and then put everything together. >> i wonder if you could walk me through some of the special pieces you got. >> this was a nice example of a kepi that would have been worn
by a union soldier with its original label inside, from new york. hello! hello. hello. call me "officer." >> [ laughs ] you can see the tag that was written by mr. crego -- "confederate carbine, serial number 85, by bilharz, hall & co., pittsylvania court house, virginia." >> this is the carbine that art paid a few hundred dollars for in the 1950s. may i? >> please. >> oh, my goodness. guess what the appraiser thinks it'll sell for at auction. this is worth $50,000? does it work? brian assures me that after more than 150 years, it still does. but by far the most unusual item in art crego's collection is that bullet-riddled log. where did it come from? would anyone buy it? i got goose bumps just talking about it. there's a lot of romance going on relative to this battle log.
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unload her strange inheritance. she's long considered it just a sprawling hoard of firearms, uniforms, and other military memorabilia. after all, her father paid so little for it, says auctioneer brian witherell. >> she knew that there were things that were important to her dad, but the records that they kept showed that he paid $2.50, 50 cents, $7. if you're just judging from that, you would have no idea of the significance of the collection. >> but brian knows there's a method to art's obsession. >> i think in crego's collection, he was truly collecting from a scholarship standpoint. he wanted a comprehensive collection that encompassed virtually every aspect of u.s. military life. >> nothing underscores that more than a bullet-riddled log art crego bought in the 1960s and carted from home to home over the decades. sometimes he kept it wrapped in
a blanket in the bathtub. how on earth do you value a tree log that has ammo and battle wounds? >> they've sold, and it's based on how much ammunition is it, the feel, how does it look, what battlefield is it from, can we identify it? >> thank goodness art crego kept his paperwork! it came from a reputable dealer, who'd verified that the lead-sprayed timber was retrieved from the battlefield at spotsylvania court house, virginia. in that bloody battle, fought in may 1864, union troops tried to take the ground, but the rebels held on. at the end of two weeks, a total of 31,000 soldiers on both sides were dead. once he's authenticated it, brian knows some of his regular customers, like tommy haas of utah, will be bidders. he says, "tommy, there's something here you might really
be interested in." i previewed the auction and thought it was a really cool relic. >> but after brian publishes a fancy color catalog for the auction, he gets an offer from another client -- 200,000 bucks for the entire collection, which art paid no more than $10,000 for. should they take it? brian and nancy, in charge of the crego family trust, think hard about it but decide, "no." >> we want to let the market decide what it's worth, and we want competitive bidding. we think that's the fairest way to mr. crego and to his heirs. >> it's also a big risk. will brian and nancy live to regret their decision? >> i sure as heck tried the best i could to do what he wanted me to do. >> find out when we return on "strange inheritance." get it.
is she gonna get it daddy? she'll get it. get it! get i-- (crowd groaning) (crowd cheering) narrator: when you bring home a goodwill find, you give your whole town a reason to celebrate because you're also funding local job training and placement programs in tech, healthcare and more. goodwill. bring good home. >> announcer: now back to "strange inheritance." >> it's january 2011, and
art crego's huge military collection has three weeks to sell during an online auction. the pressure is on, big-time, after heir nancy crego-powers and auctioneer brian witherwell turn down a $200,000 offer for the whole catalog. when bidding gets off to a slow start, it looks like it could be a disaster. on the final day, february 4th, everything changes. >> seeing what the final bid price was on these items just amazed me. i think it took all of us by surprise. >> the biggest-selling item is that confederate carbine art bought for a couple hundred dollars. a collector pays $48,000 for it. belt buckles, purchased for a few bucks decades earlier -- they pull in just over $6,000. this group of insignias -- over $8,000. these shell jackets -- $7,000.
a presentation sword -- $6,500. a sharps civil war rifle -- $5,500. these campaign hats -- $5,000. cartridge boxes -- $2,500. and guess who pays $3,000 for that union army cap which art bought as a kid. it's auctioneer brian witherell. >> i felt close to the cregos, and i wanted a memento to remember that by. >> the grand total for the crego collection? almost half a million dollars. did you imagine that dad had a half-a-million-dollar collection? >> i don't think in his wildest dreams that he ever imagined that he would pass that on to his children. >> oh, in case you're wondering about that battle log... >> my successful bid was around 20-odd thousand bucks. and one of the things that makes this significant is the battle of spotsylvania court house is recognized as one of the five major battles in the civil war. this log is in exceptionally nice shape.
it's got projectiles on it from the confederate states and projectiles on it from the united states. i got goose bumps just talking about it. there's a lot of romance going on relative to this battle log. it's a key piece of my collection, and i really enjoy it. >> listening to haas, you almost think art crego, the old battle of the bulge vet-turned-military historian, handpicked a buyer with a passion that rivals his own. >> this was a pretty accurate gun, and it was used a long time. >> of all the items from the various wars the old soldier collected, nancy says she'll never sell this one -- that pennsylvania long rifle. at over 4 feet long, it's a relic of the revolutionary war era and a beloved artifact that helps keep the memory of her father alive. >> it's only worth about $5,000. don't care. to me, that is a piece of my dad. >> what have you learned from looking through the amazing
collection that he left behind? >> he was committed, he didn't give up, he didn't back down [voice breaking] and he did the best job he could. >> for the 50th anniversary of the battle of the bulge, in 1994, art crego penned a letter to a local paper. the story he shared didn't focus on a hell endured. it was about christmas eve 1944. his squad, perched upon a ridge above a town filled with german tanks, was finally relieved of duty. the next day, they got their first hot meal in weeks. yes, art wrote, they had to dodge incoming german mortar fire to get to the kitchen. but awaiting them was a real christmas dinner with all the trimmings. i'm jamie colby for "strange inheritance." thanks so much for watching, and remember -- you can't take it with you. do you have a "strange inheritance" story you'd like to share with us?
we'd love to hear it! send me an e-mail or go to our website -- strangeinheritance.com. we're going to leave it there. i love you, sweetie pie, have a great night. >> from the fox studios in new york city. this is maria bartiromo's wall street. maria: happy weekend. welcome to the program that analyzes the week that was and helps position you for the week ahead. i'm maria bartiromo, thanks for joining me. coming up in just a moment, sheila bair is with me to talk about the grilling of the bank ceos this week on capitol hill. and then later on, we are talking about the booming business of cannabis with soul global's brady cobb invested in a number of cannabis producers. but first, big banks kicking off first quarter earnings, jpmorgan chase reporting $2.65 a share, better than expected, and 29.85