A 91-year-old man's amateur museum was raided by FBI agents who are seeking to repatriate his remarkable trove of artifacts, including Native American items and shrunken heads. According to the Associated Press, the FBI are aiming to catalog and return the objects found at Donald Miller's home back to their countries of origin. Miller spent several decades collecting items from more than 200 countries, including Papua New Guinea, Russia, and China, displaying them at his rural Warldron, Indiana, home. Miller gave tours to local residents and played a pipe organ for visitors.
The FBI has not said yet whether Miller unknowingly “improperly collected artifacts,” like the shrunken skulls, including one with an arrow stuck in it. The laws surrounding artifact collection are complex, and Miller’s case involves looking at state, federal, and international laws. It also depends on whether the FBI considers the objects stolen or imported with a license. But Miller’s friends believe he had been collecting since he was young, or that he at least obtained the items before stringent laws relating to removing and importing objects were applied.
While the artifacts are priceless — the “cultural value of these artifacts is immeasurable,” said FBI Special Agent Robert Jones — we attempted to calculate what the potential value of their worth could be.
A 60ft, 4ft-wide anaconda snakeskin
That’s a frightening thought and an enormous snakeskin. Genuine Ostrich Hides, a company involved in the "exotic hides business" has priced one foot of anaconda skin at $275, so Miller’s hide is potentially worth about $16,500.
Civil War memorabilia
The FBI haven’t provided specifics about the memorabilia, but a $1,000 Confederate bill is currently going for $75,000 on eBay.
The price of fossils vary, and can easily climbs into the tens of thousands of dollars. We wonder if Miller’s are anything like this pair of angry Romanian bear skeletons, a steal at $99,000 for two.
Ming Dynasty jade
Ming Dynasty artifacts from China similarly range in their value. A rare vase from the era sold for $1.3 million in 2012, rescued from its life as a Long Island door stop. At Christie's, Ming Dynasty jade fetched up to $35,000.
Native American arrowheads
Miller’s property, which contained several buildings, is constructed on Iroquois land. Native American arrowheads start at $0.99 on eBay, and larger collections command several hundred dollars.
A chunk of concrete allegedly from the bunker in which Adolf Hitler committed suicide
Priceless due to its historic rather than monetary value (if confirmed that it's actually from Hitler's bunker), Joe Runnebohm, whose plumbing business worked at Miller's house, summed it up well. "It was just like a big chunk of cement from when they demolished it or whatever," Runnebohm told the AP.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.