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A British Woman Bought a Brooch for About $35. It Just Sold for $12,000.

Talk about a secret treasure hiding in plain sight.

A brooch bought more than three decades ago for just £20 (about $35 at the time) recently sold at auction for an impressive £9,500, or $12,000, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. And the sale wouldn’t have happened had it not been for YouTube.

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Flora Steel, an art historian in Rome, bought the brooch at an antique fair and wore it for a while before stashing it away in her closet, where it sat for 20 years. Last year, though, she came across a video clip detailing an old episode of Antiques Roadshow, in which the host was showing sketches that looked just like the accessory she had acquired many years prior. It turns out that Steel was in possession of a William Burges brooch, made of silver, lapis lazuli, malachite, and pink coral.

“It caught my eye for its incredible design—its beautiful use of stones,” Steel told the Times.

Burges is best known for designing Cardiff Castle in Wales, but the architect and artist made a few brooches for the weddings of a couple of friends in 1864. (The original sketches of those pieces are at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.) The brooch formerly owned by Steel, of the Victorian Gothic aesthetic, features the initials “JCG,” a reference to the Reverend John Gibson and Caroline Bendyshe.

Funnily enough, this isn’t the first time this has happened in regards to a Burges brooch. Gildings Auctioneers, the house that sold Steel’s piece, has also auctioned off two other Burges brooches, with one selling for £31,000 in 2011, or about $50,000 at the time. The people who sold those other pieces also realized their value after watching Antiques Roadshow.

Steel said the discovery of her brooch’s true cost brought her a great deal of joy after undergoing two years of treatment for breast cancer. She plans to donate some of the proceeds to a breast cancer research fund. The rest will go toward her son and potentially some future travel she’s been thinking of: a five-day horseback riding trip through Tuscany and a trip to the San Carlo opera house in Naples. Maybe she’ll find another long-lost treasure in one of those Italian cities.

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