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The Most Expensive Items The Pawn Stars Actually Purchased On The Show

The treasures and finds that come in front of the shoprunners in the History Channel's wildly successful series Pawn Stars have only grown in value as the show has elevated their shop's stature. With more and more collectors learning about the dealings of Rick, Richard, Chumlee and Corey, the show's promise that "you never know what will walk through that door" has only become more true.

Over the course of more than 500 episodes, World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop's co-owner Rick Harrison has made some eye-popping buys. Rick used the store's considerable capital and clout (not to mention his seemingly endless well of experts, a necessity for appraisal purposes) to grab ahold of history via large stacks of cash. Harrison's well-trained eye knows an opportunity to make money when he sees it, even if that means putting huge sums of money on the line.

With that in mind, we've compiled some of the series' biggest buys. Here's a look at the most expensive items the Pawn Stars actually purchased on the show.

Ones that got away

Even with the considerable resources at hand for the team behind World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, sometimes they just have to let a treasure walk. We'll be taking the time to point out a few of these missed opportunities as we go along, lest you get the idea that Rick and Chumlee always get what they want.

The most glaring of these examples came in a later season, when Rick began venturing outside of the shop in search of collector's items. Given the type of historical artifacts the shop frequently peddles, Rick came across a holy grail when he met a collector named Brian. The seller had a three-piece suit worn by Revolutionary War general, founding father and first U.S. President George Washington. The seller offered it for $3 million and Rick countered with an offer of $2.5 million. Ultimately, Rick and Brian had to walk away from negotiations.

$250,000 for Maurice Sendak sketches

Now to get down to the deals that actually happened. In the same season as the George Washington find, Rick came across something he couldn't help but have. A collector offered him the original sketches that became Maurice Sendak's children's book classic Where the Wild Things Are. Rick was clearly awed by the drawings when he saw them in person.

"It was the greatest book ever written," Rick told the dealer. "When I was a kid I was fascinated by the pictures... It was so different from any other children's book."

Because Sendak never sold prints of his work for Where the Wild Things Are, the sketches were one of a kind. After consulting with an art expert who told him he could expect to net $310,000 for the sketches, Rick talked the owner into selling the lot for $250,000.

This is still the most expensive item ever purchased in Pawn Stars history.

$111k for 3000 ounces of silver

The second-largest purchase in Pawn Stars history was a lot easier for the shop to verify the value of. When a customer rolled into the shop with a dolly loaded down with 3,000 ounces of silver in bars and coinage, the Harrisons knew they had a deal on their hands.

Because of the significant amount of money changing hands (and the ease with which a scammer could fake a silver bar with a different metal at its core), Rick drilled into the center of the bars to determine that they were purely made of the precious metal.

"Testing silver is a little work, but it's not rocket science," Rick said, before explaining how to test silver with nitric acid. If the silver he extracted for testing turned a milky white color when exposed to the acid, it was pure.

After verifying that it was real, he purchased it for roughly market rate at a cost of $111,000.

$95k for a 1932 Lincoln Roadster

The Harrisons had to spend big to get a luxury Lincoln Roadster built in the middle of the Great Depression. A beautifully maintained mint and cream-colored Roadster with a massive V-12 engine hiding under its gigantic hood was too good to let leave the shop.

The 1932 Roadster was an attempt by Lincoln's parent company Ford to lure drivers away from their competitors at Cadillac. It was priced to move at $4,000 in 1932, roughly 70 grand in today's money. Rick and the Old Man went above and beyond that price point to make sure that they walked away from the deal with a car. For the decadent 150-horsepower classic car from 1932, they offered a cash buy of nearly $100,000.

They didn't have to wait long to get their money back, however. The owner turned right around and used the $95,000 he made in the deal to buy gold from the pawn shop.

Cars that rolled away

That's not to say you can wow the Pawn Stars stars with any old car. They have had to let many sellers walk in their 15 seasons on the air, when the price was just a bit too rich for their blood. Frequently, these stalemates came when a car was famous rather than just an antique.

The Harrisons had to make a tough decision when perhaps the most-famous car in American history fell into their laps. O.J. Simpson's White Ford Bronco has been seen by millions of Americans, with the former NFL star leading Los Angeles police on the world's most well-known low-speed chase ahead of his eventual acquittal on murder charges. The current owner of the iconic Bronco brought it to the stars of the show looking to sell.

Given the infamy of this particular Bronco, the seller wanted a hefty sum. He asked for $1.25 million from the Harrisons, about a dollar for every 100 Americans who watched O.J. run. Ultimately, Rick had to turn him down and send him off to find another buyer interested in macabre history.

$90k for Mary Ford's 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul guitar

Gibson's Les Paul signature guitars can cost a pretty penny as is. But when the well-crafted guitars are connected to the legendary songwriter whose name is on the instrument, they're worth quite a bit more. That explains why the Harrisons felt they should shell out $90,000 for a 1961 Les Paul guitar that belonged to Paul's wife Mary.

All pawn shops trade in guitars at some point, but the show's outsize stature as a purchaser of rare antiques made it a fitting stop for the owner of this particular instrument. For the uninitiated, Les Paul and Mary Ford were a wildly successful singing duo in the 1950s with 28 hit records to their name. They hosted popular radio and television variety shows together throughout the decade. That Mary herself had played this guitar on tracks like the number-one hit "How High The Moon" made its value skyrocket.

They paid $90,000 for the chance to own a piece of musical history so closely tied to the godfather of rock and roll guitars.

$85k for 1941 Gibson SJ-200 Guitar

Another Gibson walked into the Pawn Stars shop once, with a much more widely known star attached. Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young) owned this 1941 model. The guitar was visibly beautiful, incredibly well-maintained and boasted the lovely sound of mid-century Gibsons. But it was a bill of sale signed by Stills himself that made the guitar worthwhile.

Rick Harrison ultimately purchased the guitar for a solid $85,000, getting his hands on a piece of classic rock history that was bound to find a deep-pocketed buyer. After all, we've all heard "Ohio" umpteen times in our lives and somebody out there has to love it enough to drop six figures and own a guitar that was so close to the process. Are there any rich Buffalo Springfield fans in the house? Rick has a deal you won't want to pass up here. And he'll be sure to sell it to you for what it's worth.

Musical history that walked

Just being an important part of musical history isn't enough to get the Pawn Stars men to pull the trigger. The business is the center of a successful reality TV show, sure, but it's still a business. And businesses need to make money if they are going to survive.

That desire to own music history has clashed with the store's finances in the past, leading to plenty of situations where one-of-a-kind musical items were allowed to walk.

The Beatles' original recording contract and a guitar owned by Jimi Hendrix both came and went without the store being able to make a deal. The Beatles' contract owner wanted a million dollars even for the piece of paper, which was far too rich for the Harrisons' blood. The Hendrix guitar from 1963 could be confirmed as one that was played by the legend, and Rick's expert quoted its high end value at a million dollars. When Rick offered the owner $500,000 for it, the owner felt insulted — and his second offer of $600,000 didn't help. Ultimately, the owners of both items were forced to leave without making a deal.

$80k for a 1922 high-relief dollar

It's not just cars and guitars that fetch top dollar. Occasionally, the shop will shell out for actual dollars. Such was the case with this rare dollar coin from 1922 that the shop paid $80,000 to own. It's known in collector circles as one of the rarest American coins ever made and its owner lucked into it in a poker game. While he knew he had an expensive coin on his hands, he had no idea how much it was worth.

The coin in question is rare because of the sharp relief of its design. While the deep grooves make a more beautiful coin, they wore down the dies that produced the coins. Almost all of the high-relief versions of the dollar coin were melted down shortly after they were stamped.

The owner believed that the coin, which is one of around 12 in existence, was worth $20,000. Rick's coinage expert revealed that the coin was worth as much as five times that, saying it could easily sell for $100,000. Rick made an offer of $80,000 for the coin and the poker player happily took it.

Coin of the realm

Rare coins are among the items that Rick has allowed to walk over the series' 500-plus episodes. And one coin that seemed almost destined to be fake ended up going home with the original owner, even after it was verified. An "Ides of March" coin from the time of Julius Caesar seems like the sort of thing a scammer would invent before being laughed out of a room full of historians, but Rick's expert confirmed that it was a true coin from over 2000 years ago. He urged Rick to buy the coin at the seller's asking price of $140,000. Rick didn't want to part with that much money, even for a sure thing, and he let the seller take a walk.

Of course, you have to lean on the side of trusting the Pawn Stars crew's instincts. They have managed to stay afloat making seemingly constant high-dollar deals on all manner of weird memorabilia. Chances are, if they think something will or won't make them money, they are probably right.