While remodeling his newly purchased home in Elbow Lake, Minn., David Gonzalez noticed something unusual amid the old newspapers that had been used as wall insulation.
It was a copy of Action Comics No. 1 from 1938, the very first comic to feature the granddaddy of all superheroes, Superman.
StarTribune.com spoke with Gonzalez about his amazing find as well as a subsequent family accident that knocked down the value of his windfall.
"I knew it was worth money," Gonzales told the Star Tribune. "But I had no idea how much."
So far, the answer is, well, a lot. With roughly three weeks left on the auction block, the high bid is around $113,000.
Not bad, considering Gonzalez bought the house for $10,100. But, still, the comic could be worth a lot more were it not for an argument among family members.
When his wife’s aunt grabbed the comic book amid all the excitement of the discovery, he grabbed it back and tore the back cover. Experts downgraded the comic book’s condition to a 1.5 on a 10-point scale. To put that in comic-book context, a 9.0-grade Action 1 fetched more than $2 million recently.
“That was a $75,000 tear,” said Stephen Fishler, co-owner of ComicConnect, a New York City online auction house that is selling Gonzalez’s treasure. He says the comic book would have graded out at 3.0 without the rip.
The Star Tribune also spoke with Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of ComicConnect.
"It’s so hard for anyone to fathom that, in this day and age, you could still discover a comic book that nobody has known about because this book was in a wall of a house for more than 70 years," Zurzolo said. "It’s pretty miraculous that it even survived and it’s only had one owner."
Got a small fortune burning a hole in your pocket? The auction ends June 11.