It wasn’t unusual for Adam Gillian, a homeless man, to stop into the Curiosity Inc. store in Edmonton, Canada to sell items he’d found. Alexander Archbold, the antique shop owner, would often buy items off the man, even if they weren’t worth anything, so that Gillian could grab a bite to eat.
When Gillian brought in a picture of Disney’s Bambi, Archbold assumed it was a replica of an animation cel, maybe from the ’80s or ’90s. He gave Gillian $20 for the artwork.
It wasn’t until he was cleaning up the piece that he flipped it over and discovered it was an authentic hand-drawn image on a celluloid sheet, with a copyright date of 1937 (Bambi debuted in theaters in 1942).
Archbold, who documents his life with his family on YouTube, shared the discovery with his followers.
In the video, he values the artwork to be worth $3,500 but admits that he doesn’t feel right taking that much money after having just paid $20. “I’d like to split the profits, 50/50,” he said. “I think it’s just the right thing to do.”
Archbold can relate to Gillian’s struggle. For part of his childhood, despite his mother working three jobs, he and his family struggled with homelessness. In junior high, he called a motel room home.
“The problem is,” Archbold said about splitting the money, “I don’t know where to find [Gillian].”
After driving through the streets searching for Gillian, Archbold was able to pinpoint one of his friends, who provided him with some areas the man usually spends his time. Archbold spent two weeks looking for Gillian every morning at those spots.
Eventually, Gillian stopped back into the store.
Under the guise of an interview about Gillian’s greatest finds, Archbold presented $1,700 to the homeless man.
However, what Archbold was able to give Gillian went way beyond money.
A GoFundMe to help provide shelter for Gillian quickly raised over his $10,000 goal. On top of that, thanks to all the news coverage surrounding the story, Gillian’s mother, and other members of his family, were able to get in contact with him.
Following the reunification, Archbold helped Gillian obtain a temporary identification card so he could take a train home to visit his family in Ontario.
“I went to the hotel and I was supposed to pick him up, but he wasn’t there,” Archbold said. “He was tracking down a friend of his who was also homeless and was giving his winter boots to him.”
Before the trip, Archbold took Gillian around to other antique shops to help him learn what dealers are looking for. He also gave him contact information for a possible job and a homemade lunch Archbold’s wife packed for the train ride.
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