tv Trish Regan Primetime FOX Business February 23, 2019 2:00am-3:01am EST
5:00 p.m. eastern called "bulls and bears" right here on the fox business network. thanks for joining us. have a great weekend. good >> the people's house -- a family's legend. >> i can remember being a little kid and asking my father what it was. >> a century-old mystery. >> he said, "it's from the white house." and i go, "talking about d.c. white house?" i was just stunned. >> the white house neither confirms nor denies... >> what do you see? >> gold! [ laughs ] >> let's investigate! >> i scrape the paint layers down to the wood. >> and when you heard what it was worth? >> and sold! [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] >> i'm jamie colby, and today
i'm in boston to meet an heir who has an inheritance so strange, it takes years just to figure out what it is. >> my name is mike meister. my siblings and i inherited something that goes back to our great-uncle more than a hundred years ago. we'd always been told that it came from the white house, but it was just a family story. hi, jamie. welcome to boston. >> thanks, mike. nice to meet you. >> yeah, nice to meet you, too. >> mike leads me inside, saying he has something amazing to show me. he keeps it in its own molded, air-tight protective case. can i take a look? >> sure can. >> you brought me all the way here, mike. this is... what is it? mike's strange inheritance is this piece of decorative pinewood. 30 inches long, 14 inches across, four inches thick. on the back is a faint signature and a date -- j.s. williamson, october 15, 1902. >> there's a real story behind
it. family legend is that it's from the white house. >> could that be? the white house does have a colorful past. it's nearly completed at the end of john adams' presidency. he moves in in november 1800, but stays only a few months. thomas jefferson spends two terms there before handing the keys to james madison. then british troops set it ablaze in the war of 1812. [ indistinct shouting ] first lady dolley madison orders the staff to remove this beloved portrait of george washington by gilbert stuart. but according to william seale, author of two books on the white house, the building's interior is destroyed. >> they burned the second floor with rubble, and then they broke up all the furniture and poured lamp oil on it. and the attic fell in, and then it burned through the main floor and the whole thing, in
about two hours, was just a shell. >> after the war, the original architect, james hoban, rebuilds it exactly as it had been -- in what will become known as the federal style. >> president madison decreed that it be rebuilt as a symbol of survival. >> by 1817, the renovation is almost complete and our fifth president, james monroe, moves in. a dozen years later, the seventh, andrew jackson, lets a drunken mob trash the place during his inaugural ball. maybe this poor piece of wood was part of the collateral damage. who knows? over the years, presidents come and presidents go, redecorating, repainting, and renovating to suit their individual tastes. then, in 1902, theodore roosevelt begins the first wholesale restoration of the mansion that he officially names "the white house."
it's time to pick up the thread of this strange inheritance story. according to mike meister, in 1902, his great-uncle, joseph williamson jr., is a law student at georgetown university in d.c. one day, he strolls down pennsylvania avenue, spots the piece of wood in a junk pile, and thinks, "it's pretty neat." >> joseph jr. picked it up. >> like a yard sale? did they buy it? >> no, it was scrap. i mean, it was things that were gonna be eventually hauled off to landfills, burned, whatever. >> he brings it home to illinois from law school and gives it to his father as a memento. his dad inscribes his name and writes the date on the back. the piece is handed down in the family to mike's dad, wayne meister, in the 1930s. where was it kept? >> it was in the basement of our house out in illinois -- a farm that my parents bought after world war ii. and it was hanging on a wall. i can remember being a little kid and asking my father what it was.
and he would say, "that's a piece of the white house." >> did you believe him? you're a farm kid in illinois, and your parents have a piece of a white house? >> when he said something, it meant he wasn't making things up. >> pretty cool, though it's just one conversation piece in a house that wayne and his wife, ann, pack with all sorts of gewgaws, knickknacks, and odd antiques. >> one of their hobbies was going to auctions and tag sales and finding things of value, and then, if they needed refinishing, they would refinish them. >> did they ever consider taking sandpaper or a paintbrush to that mysterious hunk of wood in the cellar? mike shudders to think. >> what if she decided, "this ugly old thing, i'm gonna strip the paint"? but she certainly never did. >> are you kidding? that could have happened? >> well, it didn't. >> in 1964, the meisters -- and a moving van full of antiques -- relocate to massachusetts. it's there, during christmastime
in 1988, that mike, all grown up, announces he's getting married. >> we had a family dinner to meet the in-laws. and my brother-in-law, larry forrest, was there. >> that night, mike brings larry into the attic. >> i said to larry, "i want to show you something," and i took him upstairs, and i showed him. it was in a moving box from 1964. >> they didn't even unpack it. >> no, no. >> mike pulled out a piece out of the box, and he said, "it's from the white house." and i go, "talking about d.c. white house?" he goes, "yeah." i was just stunned. if you asked somebody what's the most important building in our history, they're gonna say the white house. and here it was, sitting right next to me. >> did mike ask you to learn more about it for him? >> the more we got talking about it, we said, "let's find out where this came from." >> but it's just talk, and it will be for years. mike's dad dies in 1996, and his mom in 2001.
only then do the meister kids begin to deal with any of the old stuff their parents accumulated. did your parents leave a will? >> we had a trust. >> did they specify? >> not in that particular case, no. to clean the house out, to send things to auction, and sell it, it was probably a good three months. but we kept a lot of the things, too, that meant something to each one of us. >> one of the things they keep is that distressed hunk of wood. >> there was no way we were gonna sell that, because we didn't even know what it was. >> what you think it was? >> an architectural element from the white house. but we had no idea what. >> it's not until 2007 that brother-in-law larry forrest convinces the meister family they need to get some answers. and he takes on the role of lead investigator. his first line of inquiry -- the white house itself. >> i spoke to a gentleman, and i told him about what the family had. and after the laughter and telling me that that wasn't possible, i said, "we're pretty
sure, it's written on the back," and so forth. and he goes, "it's probably from some other old building or whatever." >> but larry persists. his letters, his calls turn up nothing. then after two solid years, his search leads him to historian and author bill seale. >> i said, "can i just send you pictures?" so when he received them, he called me back and he goes, "i swear i've seen it." >> was it a eureka moment? that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. the current oval office was not built until 1934, when f.d.r. was president. the answer when we return. as a fitness junkie, i customize everything - bike, wheels, saddle. that's why i switched to liberty mutual. they customized my insurance, so i only pay for what i need.
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♪paint a wall, learn to dance♪ ♪call your mom, buy a boat♪ ♪sing a song, make a friend♪ ♪can't we all get along? >> the answer is "b," a laundry drying area. but if you said "c," you might know that the first formal executive office was created by f.d.r.'s fifth cousin, theodore roosevelt, and today is known as the roosevelt conference room. >> for years, mike meister was told his father had a family heirloom like no other -- a decorative piece of wood with peeling paint, reputed in family lore to be from the white house. the problem -- nobody knows how to find out if the story is true.
it's become an irresistible mystery to mike and his brother-in-law, larry forrest, who are determined to solve it. larry's inquiries are all met by laughter and blank stares, until he calls author and historian bill seale. >> he was skeptical that it could be the actual white house. so i said, "can i just send you pictures?" >> what was your initial reaction? >> well, i thought it looked suspicious. [ laughs ] and so, i didn't tell them much until i researched it. >> did you say, "ah, just leave it in the attic another 50 years. it'll be fine"? >> no. no, i was too curious for that. >> in fact, the meisters' photos have bill scratching his head. >> he called me back, and he goes, "i swear i've seen it." >> bill is remembering a particular photo from 1898, during the mckinley administration, that he used in one of his books about the white house. the photo shows a hallway called the cross hall. >> this is the cross hall.
it's used a lot now. started by president george w. bush. >> there it is. >> and this is that march to the east room. in those days, you had a grand staircase here. >> and then, suddenly, bill spots it -- off in the corner, between a chair and a potted plant. right there -- see it? look familiar? sure looks like mike's strange inheritance. and there it is, in the white house, in 1898, when william mckinley is president. >> and there is the plinth. it's the only one it could be because it's for that side. >> i'd never heard of a plinth. what is a plinth? >> it's a base of a column that runs up the wall. >> how many were there? >> well, there were four. they were in niches in the hall where originally built for stoves. >> do we know where the other three are? >> no, nobody does. >> never been seen. so now i'm wondering, how does the plinth get from that cozy corner in the white house to the meister's attic?
well, in september 1901, president mckinley is in buffalo, new york, at the pan-american exposition. he's shaking hands with the public, when an anarchist named leon czolgosz assassinates him. suddenly, vice president teddy roosevelt is sworn in. among his many big ambitions is a gut rehab of the executive mansion. >> 1902 was a major reshaping of the symbol of the white house into a more worldly time. america became more international, and the white house was redone to be compatible with that. >> t.r.'s goal is to return it to its original federalist incarnation, while clearing it out to accommodate a brood of six children and a pony. it also means separating the living quarters from our nation's most important executive offices. >> he moved the offices out of the family floor and built
the west wing. he reorganized the place so it wasn't just an old plantation house. >> to that end, roosevelt's architects rearrange the entrance, removing this stairway and these victorian tiffany panels from the cross hall -- as well as all that old ornamental woodwork, like the plinths. the workers pile loads of rubbish outside, and souvenir hunters snatch it up. >> there is one letter from theodore roosevelt, and he said, "people are scattering around for souvenirs." >> so bill seale is beginning to believe that the meister family lore about great-uncle joseph must be true. and that this hunk of wood really is a relic of the white house, going all the way back to 1817, when president monroe moved in after that nasty business with the british. were you interested in it? >> very. i was stricken by it, to tell you the truth. >> so, something that looks like
wood or plaster is actually a whole story, in and of itself? >> it's like dna. and the object has many, many things to say. >> and the next step is very much like a dna test. what they discover was that this strange inheritance was a lot more important and valuable an artifact than even bill seale had imagined. you're smiling. that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. which amenity was added during the obama administration? was it the white house... the answer when we return. sometimes
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the white house tennis court was converted to a basketball court for the former high-school hoops player. >> it's november of 2009, and historian bill seale, based on this photograph, believes that mike meister likely inherited a rare and very important relic -- an actual piece of the white house. it's an ornamental piece of wood called a plinth that may have been removed during teddy roosevelt's 1902 renovation. in order to verify its authenticity, seale advises the family to have the paint analyzed. so mike and his brother-in-law, larry forrest, drive from boston to bryn mawr, pennsylvania, to meet with this guy, historic paint analyst frank welsh. >> he said, "you guys go out for a little while, i'm gonna do analysis on it, and see what i think." >> frank studies the paint layers with a magnifying glass, and then a stereo microscope, as he scrapes away each layer with
an x-acto knife. >> then i start recording, starting with the layer closest to the wood numbering layers -- one, two, three, four -- all the way up to the most recent. >> well, we got a call in about half-hour, and he goes, "this is spot-on." there's 17 layers of paint on this, there's three layers of gold leaf on it. he said, "there's absolutely, 100%, exactly what it should be for that time period." >> everything seemed to line up very, very well. i felt very comfortable that the paints that i was looking at could easily be as old as they felt the plinth was. it is very unique. >> as t.r. would say, "that's bully!" in identifying those 17 layers of paint, frank may be the first person to open the door to a previously unknown decorative history of the white house. author bill seale matches each paint layer with a chapter in presidential history. >> if you want accuracy in
history, here's the real thing. this is our only touch with those periods. >> bill does the math. there were 21 administrations between presidents james madison and teddy roosevelt. but three of them -- harrison, taylor, and garfield -- were exceptionally short due to death from illness or assassination. if the hallway isn't repainted during those presidencies, and maybe one president lacks the inclination to repaint, you've got your 17 layers right there. after generations of repeating their family legend, the meisters now know they spoke the truth all along. you went from rejection to respect. how'd that feel? >> we had solved a mystery. >> bill seale encourages them to donate the plinth on the spot to the white house historical association. they say they're inclined to, but first they need to find out what it's worth.
did you have a number in mind that you thought it would be? >> no. >> what about you, larry? you did all the running around. >> you could shoot real high on this one, just from the fact of how much historical value it has. >> and when the meisters get the appraisal, they'll have some thinking to do. that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website -- strangeinheritance.com. ♪music and (bus sndfx)
♪what you want, baby i got ♪what you need, you know i got it♪ ♪all i'm askin' is for a little respect♪ excuse me ma'am, would you like to have my seat? ♪r-e-s-p-e-c-t ♪find out what it means to me♪ ♪r-e-s-p-e-c-t ♪take care. tcb, oh ♪(sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)♪ ♪a little respect "strange inheritance." >> by the fall of 2014 in boston, mike meister, and his brother-in-law, larry forrest, have determined that a piece of wood called a plinth, handed down through several generations in the meister family, really is from the white house, and very rare indeed. but is it valuable? they take it to an appraiser. you're smiling. >> well, he appraised it at $500,000. >> the appraiser was an old-time
white house appraiser. i was very surprised -- that was more than i expected it would be. >> who would buy such a thing? >> someone with the money to buy it, or someone that wants to buy it and give it to a museum or presidential library. >> historian bill seale is hoping the meister family will cut out the middleman, donate the plinth to the white house historical association themselves, and take a tax write-off. but that's a lot to ask of mike and his three siblings, who could be looking at walking away with $125,000 apiece. are you gonna sell? >> we're having it put up for auction. i think in the long run, and i'm hoping, that it'll be appreciated by many more people than might have been with the white house historical association. >> the meisters reach out to bobby livingston at rr auction in amherst, new hampshire. >> when i first laid eyes on the plinth, i was like, "wow! it's spectacular." as someone who handles a lot of historic items, when you see
something like 17 layers of paint, it tells a story. >> he joins us live from new hampshire. >> next thing you know, the story is getting big media coverage, including on fox news. >> we've never, in 30 years, offered any pieces of the 1817 white house. because there's no, you know, photography from that era, it's incredibly important. we've had registrations from all over the world, so we expect the bidding to be quite lively. >> number 22 -- architectural ornament from the main hall of the white house. >> the meister family is on hand for the auction in boston in september 2015. >> $100,000, $100,000, $110,000. >> here we go. >> $120,000. looking for $120,000. >> the bidding starts to pick up a little momentum. >> $120,000, $130,000, $140,000. >> but then it just fizzles. >> $160,000 once, $160,000 twice. sold, $150,000. fantastic. >> it's nowhere near the
half-million dollar appraisal, though a $150,000 is nothing to sneeze at. and mike reminds us that it wasn't only about the money but sharing a neat piece of america's past -- just like his ancestor, who wandered by the white house one day in 1902 and thought to snatch up a souvenir to send back home. is this the best case of being in the right place at the right time? >> i believe it is, i really do. i think from what we've learned of it and what hopefully other people can learn from it, i think it's a living piece of history. >> so, who bought mike meister's strange inheritance? well, we know this much -- a fox viewer. all bobby livingston would say is that one of those watching him on fox news before the auction was so intrigued, he phoned in and plunked down 150 grand. if you're watching now, enjoy your piece of history.
and, remember -- you can't take it with you. i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance." >> three brothers, one strange picture. >> i always thought, why did we have a painting like that in our dining room? >> it stirs up the sale of the century. >> $750. do have $750 right her. >> oh, my god. i'm thinking, what is this? >> are you thinking that thele g a mistake, or they know something that you don't? >> they know something that i don't.'ll take you $300,000. >> it was a complete shock. >> $830,000. >> he said, "amy, it was a rembrandt." >> not so fast. >> so, it is possible that this thing turns out not to be? >> totally. [ applause ] [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ]
[ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby, heading toward the garden state parkway. i'm meeting a couple of jersey boys who had an old painting in the basement. could it really be a rembrandt? think you're heard a stranger "inheritance" story? forget about it! >> i'm ned landau. neither i, nor my brothers, roger, and steven, had any idea that our mother had left us something so valuable. >> neither did the auction guy up the highway. >> but people around the world were watching. >> hi. how are you guys? i'm jamie. >> hi, jamie.e to new jersey. >> thanks for coming out on such a rainy day. ned, stevenand roger landau grew up here in north jersey, just outside of new york city. >> two parents, three boys, on a street where there's lots of other kids. >> our father had a small
chemical company. they made coatings and industrial finishes. >> three boys can't be easy for your mom. what was she like? >> she was an expert yoga professional, and this was well before yoga was a thing. my mother was almost like a flower child. >> lyla landau was raised in paterson, new jersey, known in the earliest 20th century as silk city, due to its flourishing fabric industry. >> a lot of jewish textile workers who were escaping persecution in eastern europe all came to paterson. as the american dream goes, many of them ended up owning silk companies, and our grandfather was one of them. >> grandpa phil makes his fortune in the silk trade, but then loses it after the great depression. the last remnants of mom's family wealth, a silver
collection, some fine china, and half-a-dozen paintings hanging throughout the house. >> we had art on the walls of our house, and i can't say i particularly appreciated it. >> there's a venetian cityscape hanging over the couch, and a large parisian street scene. the eldest brother ned always wondered about another one of the paintings. >> what was the painting of? >> somebody in a chair, passed out, and there was two people trying to revive the passed out person. >> that could freak a kid out,r. >> i remember thanksgiving or family holidays, i would always look at that painting and think -- >> really? i never even noticed it. [ laughs ] >> yes, it was there. i always looked at it as a kid, because i thought, why did we have a painting like that in our dining room? >> that painting and the others remained on the walls of the family house for decades.
mom dies in 2010 at the age of 80. a year later, their dad walter passes away. when the landau brothers inherit their parents' home in 2011, they follow the standard drill for liquidating a family estate. >> we had a garage sale. but there were a few things, like the china and some silver things that looked very nice, and we thought, well, we don't really want to just give 'em away like that. >> so mom's good stuff goes into the "save" pile. four years later, the landau brothers finally decide to have a long overdue estate sale, and what happens next is incredible, even for "strange inheritance." >> i got a phone call from roger, and he said, "are you sitting down?" >> here's a "strange inheritance" quiz question. before it was silk city, paterson was called "the cradle of the industrial revolution
in america. who put the city on the map? is it...? the answer after the break. this is the all-new chevy silverado. it's beautiful. beefy and mean looking. it's the strongest, most advanced silverado ever. the cab is bigger than the last generation. it's the first truck i've seen make you look small. but that's not all... whoo! oh my... whoa! the silverado has more cargo volume than any competitor. very impressive. now, during the chevy presidents day sales event, get 0% financing for 72 months on this all-new silverado. drive yours away this presidents day.
♪maybe surrounded by a million people i♪ ♪still feel all alone i just want to go home♪ ♪oh i miss you, you know ♪let me go home ♪i've had my fun baby i'm done♪ ♪i gotta go home ♪it will all be alright ♪i'll be home tonight ♪i'm comin back home >> so, who made paterson, new jersey, the cradle of the industrial revolution in america? it's alexander hamilton, who helped found the city in 1791.
he wanted to harness the hydropower of the passaic river's great falls to secure economic independence from british manufacturers. >> by 2015 in new jersey, the landau brothers have been storing stuff left from their parents' estate in roger's basement for four years. >> it was in the way of the ping pong table, and he wanted to, apparently, clear out some space. >> roger decides to take action before his table tennis game gets too rusty. >> i got around to calling an auctioneer, someone whose name i saw advertised on the side of the garden state parkway. >> john nye is the auction guy. >> so i said, listen, i'll stop and see you on my way to work. >> nye liquidates estates, some big fortunes like luther vandross and perry como's, and a lot of more modest ones like the landaus. you went to his house, what'd
you see? >> he takes me down to the basement. my initial reaction was, i was loving the silver. the paintings were beautiful, but not remarkable. >> nye schleps the stuff over to his auction house to examine each piece and price it for sale. he values some of those silver pieces, which roger was optimistic about, for a few hundred dollars each, and a sterling centerpiece bowl at about $2,000. >> you have a couple of interesting things. >> it's a nice group. >> tchotchkes. >> bingo. >> nye estimates the signed painting of a parisian boulevard could fetch about 500 bucks. not bad. he titles the unsigned smelling salts painting, "triple portrait with lady fainting," and describes it as "continental school, 19th century." >> it's got varnish that has crazed and crackled, and paint
loss on the board. it's not a beautiful painting, and the people sitting in the picture are not beautiful people. it was remarkably unremarkable. >> nye estimates the 9x7-inch picture is worth, say, $500. the heirs aren't even counting on that. >> we thought, if anything, the silver would have some value. >> when the auction day arrives in september 2015, a few bidders phone in. that's when the folks at the new jersey auction house realize there's probably something up with that remarkably unremarkable painting. >> it was just solid bidding, back and forth, back and forth. >> here's another quiz question for you. was rembrandt, the 17th century dutch master's...? the answer when we return.
>> he was known simply as "rembrandt." so where did that name come from? it's the first name of dutch master rembrandt van rijn. >> in september 2015, in northern new jersey, the three landau brothers are auctioning off some family valuables. >> i guess, to a certain extent, it was just taking care of our parents' estate. >> if i get my, you know, few hundred dollars, i'll be extremely happy. >> their expectations are so modest, they don't even attend the sale. it happens that the auction falls right at the end of the jewish high holidays. >> it was yom kippur. and i'm not terribly observant, but i don't answer my phone. and i even forgot when the
auction was happening. >> expectations are also modest for auctioneer john nye, who's combined the brothers' items with inventory from a few other estate sales. >> we do press releases, we do advertising. it goes online for a two-week period, so people see what's being offered in the sale. >> did anyone express an unusual amount of attention to any of the items? >> no. >> a few days before the auction, three international bidders do express interest in lot 216, the "triple portrait." >> one called from london, one called from paris, and one called from germany. not particularly unusual. all they requested was the opportunity to be on the phone for that specific lot. >> john's wife kathy speaks to the mystery bidder from france. >> we're never allowed to use the phone bidder's name, because they don't want anyone else knowing who it is that we're calling. >> nye employee amy ludlow
gets a curious inkling about her german bidder. >> he said, "i just want you to know that it's really important, and i'm going to win this." >> auction day, september 22nd. john nye breezes through the first bunch of lots in about 45 minutes. the landau family's sterling silver centerpiece bowl sells for $2,100. that parisian street scene, $300. >> okay, our next lot is lot 216. >> then comes lot 216, "triple portrait with lady fainting." it's the one that used to hang in the family dining room, that the young landau boys thought was rather unappetizing. how much was the reserve? >> the estimate was $500-to-$800, and so the opening bid was $250. >> $250, right here. $500 is... >> ready to pounce, any's bidder from germany. >> my bidder definitely wanted to jump in right away. >> us right here, $500. >> so do a half-dozen other
bidders. >> $750. >> it reaches the high $800 estimate, and passes it. then kathy's french phone bidder enters the competition. >> he was a cool cucumber. he was so calm. every time i presented a bid, he would say, "yes." >> and all of a sudden, said, "$5,000," and, man, that happened in no time. >> everyone started creeping back into the sales room, and the bidding just kept going. >> the bidding rises to $80,000, then 100 grand. >> the guy from england gets blown out, and it's going back and forth between kathy, my wife, and amy. >> are you thinking that the people on the phone are making a mistake, or they know something that you don't? >> they know something that i don't. >> when it got up into the $100,000s, i just went, "oh, my gosh!", like this, and just kind of... >> $200,000. then amy's german bidder ups the
ante. >> $300,000. >> i'll take you $300,000. >> amy's bidder from germany jumps it to $300,000, and now i'm really smiling. >> kathy's frenchman is unfazed. he jumps the bidding to 400 grand. >> "we're at $450,000. would you like to bid?" "yes, bid." >> $500,000. >> i was in disbelief. [ laughs ] >> and the bids keep coming in steady increments to $600,000, then $700,000. >> $800,000 is the next bid. $800,000 right here. >> i was just writing down my bids. [ laughs ] >> $830,000. >> trying to keep it together. and my fellow from france, all he said was, "yes." >> i do have $860,000. >> finally, at $860,000, germany surrenders. >> he bowed out. >> sold! >> the painting goes to kathy's anonymous phone bidder in france, with commission,
for $1,100,000. vive la france! ♪ best day in your auctioneer history? >> personal best, absolutely. it was so fun. >> but hang on, how could this odd painting that spent decades in a new jersey dining room, unnoticed and unremarked upon, be worth a million bucks? amy gets clued in by her losing german bidder. >> he said, "amy, it was a rembrandt." he said, "i've been looking for this painting my whole adult professional career." >> rembrandt? the rembrandt? the 17th century dutch master who liked to paint himself? how could that be? it's not every day a real rembrandt just pops up out of nowhere in jersey. >> in jersey? >> in jersey. in bloomfield, new jersey. >> where, this whole time, the landau brothers have been observing yom kippur, the jewish "day of atonement," with their phones turned off. >> maybe one, two days after
yom kippur, i returned his call. and i said, "oh, so how'd the auction go?", he said, "well, it actually went quite well." >> and your reaction is? >> i think i actually might've used some profanity. >> when roger called me and told me the amount, and i was -- my jaw just dropped. >> that's the one from the dining room, the one thatd you . >> that was it, yeah. >> it's now your favorite painting. >> right, that's one of rembrandt's best. >> well, in retrospect, john, was it within your scope to know that it's a rembrandt? >> that's a good question. i don't think so. because there was no indication that it was by a master. >> and at this point, no proof yet, either. that's right, despite that million dollar-plus bid, no one has actually verified whether the painting really is a rembrandt. so it is possible that the dealer may have gone all the way with this thing, and it turns out not to be? >> totally.
>> now, back to, "strange inheritance." >> in bloomfield, new jersey... >> sold! >> ...the hammer has just fallen on this curious painting, described as "triple portrait with lady fainting," for $1,100,000. auctioneer john nye is still reeling from the news that the art world believes it's a rembrandt. congratulations. >> thank you. i'm still smiling. >> how remarkable does this unremarkable painting now become? >> it's remarkable in the sense that it's not the type of dramatically lit individuals with the big hats and the ribbon collars that you see, and you just know, boom, that's a rembrandt. >> it's soon revealed that the winning phone bidder for the landau brothers' strange
inheritance is a french art dealer named bertrand gautier. but before the small painting can even be verified as a rembrandt, gautier resells it to a new york billionaire and rembrandt collector, named thomas kaplan for an undisclosed price rumored to be at least $3 million. what's going on here? >> these probably were his earliest-known works. >> art historian dennis heller explains that in the early 1600s, the young rembrandt van rijn, born in the dutch city of leiden, is studying art with some of the local masters. he will soon eclipse them all, but it's during this time that the teenage sensation creates a set of little-known paintings depicting the five senses -- touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. >> rembrandt's early works don't bring out this rembrandt-esque quality that we equate with the
artist. early rembrandt has really only been rediscovered in the last 50-to-60 years. >> rembrandt's paintings of touch, hearing, and sight are accounted for. in fact, thomas kaplan owns touch, and hearing, but the remaining two, taste, and smell have been lost for hundreds of years. >> we're all looking for the five senses. [ laughs ] >> so, it seems those european phone bidders had sniffed around and concluded that the landau brothers' strange inheritance must be the master's long-lost painting of smell. >> the fact that it's a triple portrait, it has people dressed in these outlandish clothes, and it's an allegory for one of the human senses, is what told the people in europe to look more closely at this painting. >> seems like someone might want to prove it's a rembrandt about now. curators working with billionaire thomas kaplan get down to work. lo and behold...
>> when they cleaned the painting, you could see that it was signed. rembrandt had a way of signing things, just with an "r," and when it was cleaned, there was an "r" there. >> case closed. >> what's so crazy about this story is that not one person in the united states recognized the significance of this remarkably unremarkable painting. an old master dealer came from the city, and sat in the front row.old master specialist comes and walks right past the rembrandt. >> yes. >> even after the painting's authenticated, we can only guess how it ended up in the landaus' new jersey home. >> would've come from europe at some point. i think the size had a lot to do with it being able to cross the atlantic. >> the landau brothers figure it's time to do a little sleuthing into the grandpa they barely knew. >> we learned that our grandfather phil liked on the weekends to drive from paterson
into manhattan, and he would hang out at this auction house. >> really? >> they sold estate sales from people who had apartments in manhattan. and so, i think that grandpa liked the idea of going and getting some real bargains on some artwork. >> none of them turned out to be valuable, except, says steven, for this one redeeming purchase. >> he was not known as an art collector, certainly, but he did choose that painting to buy. >> grandpa, you think, is winking down at you like... >> i think so, yeah. >> "nice work boys"? the landau brothers say they're a little sad that they're parents couldn't share in the excitement. >> if they had known about that painting, it would've meant so much to them. >> in march 2016, the restored painting, now officially titled, the, "unconscious patient: an allegory of smell," is unveiled to great fanfare in the
netherlands. today, it travels to museums all over the world as part of thomas kaplan's leiden collection, which now includes three-of-the-five senses. a dutch museum owns sight. what happened to taste is a mystery. >> it is an amazing story. and, you know, the money is great.not complaining about that at all. but the story's even better. >> your family in jersey. >> yeah. [ laughs ] in jersey, that's right. ♪ >> another mystery remains with the landau family. did grandpa phil know he had picked up a painting of such value? if he did, he sure kept it tight-lipped, says roger. but grandpa may have left a hint behind for his grandsons. when roger was cleaning out some of grandpa's old boxes, he found a big, dusty, old book -- the title, "the art of rembrandt." hmm.
i'm jamie colby. thanks so much for watching "strange inheritance," and remember, you can't take it with you. ♪ wall street week starts next. >> from new york city, this is maria bartiromo wall street. maria: welcome to the weekend. i am maria bartiromo, great to have you with us this weekend. coming up in just a moment, my interview with the chairman and ceo of cisco. chuck robbins is with us this weekend. but first, the u.s. meeting with china this week to try to hash out a trade deal before the march 1 deadline. on thursday sat down with secretary of state, mike pompeo to discuss china and huawei, and how they are posing a threat for