• Darrell Sheets rose to prominence in 2010 with the release of the A&E reality series "Storage Wars"
• He has been a part of the show for 12 years, taking part in 169 episodes across 14 seasons
• His expertise is tested as buyers are unable to enter the locker to inspect the items, instead, they have five minutes of gazing time from the entrance
• He has come into possession of some valuable objects, such as four Picassos, which were appraised at $48,000
• The show has been subject to controversy, with Dave Hester filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination against A&E’s producers of the show in 2012 for implanting valuable items for higher ratings
Darrell Sheets, nicknamed ‘The Gambler,’ first rose to prominence in 2010, with the release of the now wildly popular reality TV series by A&E entitled “Storage Wars.” His fame in 2022 is at an all-time high, and the main reason for that is because Darrell is one of only four people who have been in the show since its inception, alongside Brandi Bassante from The Young Guns crew, as well as Dan and Laura Dotson, also known as American Auctioneers.
The Gambler has steadfastly remained on the TV screen for the last 12 years, taking part in as many as 169 episodes of the show across all of its 14 seasons. As such, he’s built both a name and a following for himself, with a faithful audience that remains hungry for all his future grabs.
The show’s set-up is rather simple, yet apparently wildly entertaining: in California USA, whenever a storage locker’s rent remains unpaid for exactly three months, the entirety of its contents are sold by an auctioneer, all to a single buyer, for cash.
To make the challenge greater for everyone looking to earn a quick buck from seemingly random items, the most important rule that all buyers must follow is that they’re unable to actually enter the locker to inspect the items, instead, they have five minutes of gazing time from the entrance, at which point Darrell or his colleague is supposed to estimate the potential value of the locker’s contents by simply looking at it.
It seems that Sheets became quite proficient at figuring out when a storage locker is a gold mine. He discovered this talent even before the series came to life, and has been doing this full time all across the US three and a half decades.
The big man, according to the big man0
Darrell’s expertise is further testified by himself in an interview with AOL, which the storage expert started with his motto ‘You’ve got to pay your rent, or I’ll own your stuff.’ Talking about himself, Sheets said ‘You know, I’ve been doing this storage locker auction thing for about 35 years now. From the time I bought my first locker, I knew it was for me. I worked for myself, I could make my own money, I loved it.’
Some audience members have often wondered just where the producers of “Storage Wars” find all those abandoned storage lockers, especially with a ton of things in there, some of which can be worth a true fortune. To that extent, Sheets explained ‘There’s 55,000 storage facilities in the US, so on any given day, there’s 3,000 storage lockers being auctioned off.’
That said, these statistics don’t influence the show that much, since it’s only filmed in California. Even so, in only one state the buyers keep running into unpaid for storage lockers that are absolutely stacked, and at times have really valuable bits and pieces in them.
Regarding his ability to determine just how much a storage locker could really be worth, Darrell stated ‘They say I’m actually the locker whisperer. I can see through boxes. I bought a comic book collection back in the early 90’s. It was seven pick-up truck loads, and it ended up being one through 200 of every famous comic book there was. It took us three months to separate it, and I literally paid people $30 an hour to sit in a room and help me categorize it.’
While comic books themselves are of little literary value to Sheets, he’s very well aware of the profit even some of the most common items can bring. Comic books are highly sought after by collectors and fans alike, and the longer they’ve been out of print, the more their value shoots up.
It looks like the storage expert was truly there, as he said ‘I sold it because it ended up the guy was a homicide cop, and he threatened to have my wife and kids killed, and I was getting a little nervous. So I just took this thing and turned it. I got a couple hundred thousand dollars out of it. In that day and age, I was broke, so that was the big hit for me. If I had it now, it would be worth over $5.4 million.
Unfortunately for the cast of “Storage Wars,” it’s not uncommon for former storage locker owners to become highly agitated with the fact that they’ve lost cherished possessions. Be that as it may, the law is in place to ensure that those items stay with their legal and rightful owners. That doesn’t seem to always work out though, as like in Darrell’s case. Some former owners are apparently ready to literally risk serving prison time, but Sheets thankfully hasn’t had to deal with that in the show.
Great hang with Darrell "The Gambler" Sheets and Kimber from Storage Wars on A&E. Good times talking old stuff… 😎👍
Posted by Joe Bonamassa on Wednesday, December 20, 2017
As one would expect, sometimes a truly valuable item or two can be found by rummaging through another person’s stuff. Doing so, Darrell has come into possession of a few rather valuable objects, and it seems that paintings are some of his favorites. He said ‘Down in San Diego county, I got four Picassos, and I treasured them for years, and years, and years, and they ended up being worth about $48,000. To me, that’s a pretty good hit.’
The items were only appraised, however, and Sheets never got anywhere near that price for them. A turn of events caused him to lose a lot of the valuable things he hunted down, staring at storage lockers – the irreversible split from his wife. Darrel explained ‘I don’t know what they’d be worth now, I lost ‘em in a divorce. That’s the way it goes. That guy lost ‘em in storage, I lost ‘em in a divorce. Next!’
Is he really that lucky?
Although a lot of fans respect Darrell for the great eye that he appears to have, not everyone is convinced that Sheets and the other buyers are really that talented or lucky. Some fans have brought the legitimacy of the show into question, positing that it’s somewhat fishy how fortuitous certain storage lockers turn out to be, with it sometimes seeming that the series’ crew has placed the valuable item into the unsorted mess off-camera, for higher ratings.
There’s also the issue of expert appraisal, which is sometimes questioned by their off-show colleagues, and even with the estimated price always being on-point, the buyers are yet to be seen selling the appraised items for anywhere near their prices. Instead of showing the buyers profiteering from their won items, the series simply features a tally of the full appraisal price at the end, thus calculating the assumed winnings of each cast member.
With the actual profits of the buyers being questioned, how much they really earn from the show has also become a mystery. It’s certain that all of the buyers get a cut from A&E for their time on the air, but there are no official digits to back up the assumption that this salary puts them in the well-off range. Lastly, with all of the aforementioned in mind, the true re-selling profits of the buyers are assumed as $0, or really low until proven otherwise.
Screw Guy Fieri, I'm more of a Darrell Sheets man myself @DarrellGambler #storagewars pic.twitter.com/FOFh4gq7Gi
— Pineapple Rings (@CircleRings) December 8, 2018
“Storage Wars” also became the subject of controversy after buyer Dave Hester, also known as ‘The Mogul,’ who was one of the only eight original cast members, filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination against A&E’s producers of the show in 2012.
According to TMZ, Dave said that he was abruptly fired from the show after complaining to A&E producers regarding the authenticity of the storage lockers’ contents, claiming that he didn’t support the crew implanting high-value items in otherwise quite ordinary storage locker piles, so as to falsely wow the viewers.
He said that the series’ producers are ‘deceiving viewers by making it seem contestants are bidding on unseen items, when the best goods are actually planted inside.’ One of the examples he gave of this malpractice involved a tiny BMW toy car that was planted under a pile of garbage, whereas there was also an artificially placed bundle of antique newspapers giving the world the woeful announcement of rock ‘n’ roll king Elvis Presley’s death.
Hester went as far as to suggest that, even though “Storage Wars” was never really a show about attractive people, and thus had no reason to improve the sex appeal of its cast members, A&E actually went out of their way to offer everyone plastic surgery, hoping that it would increase the viewership.
This was the final drop for A&E, whose officials then responded to all the allegations in January 2013, stating that Dave Hester simply tried to rile up a massive media drama over his hurt feelings after being let go from the show. Credence is lent to this claim by the fact that the plaintiff continually tried to renegotiate his contract and just came back to the show, regardless of all the poor management he adamantly said was taking place.
This eventually happened on 11 July 2014, when Dave and the network he seemingly had no respect for, came to an agreement in the courtroom, settling for an undisclosed amount and tightly sealed terms. All that can be said for sure about the ruling is that both parties were satisfied with how things turned out, so much so that Hester has since returned to “Storage Wars,” in which he remains a regular cast member even in late 2022.
Sheets luckily never became involved in the whole fiasco, and the rumors don’t seem to have anything on him either, as nobody from the audience questioned whether he underwent plastic surgery of any sort. On top of that, the valuable items he happens to find from time to time appear to be nothing more than dumb luck, and whenever it happens, the fans still believe it all, meaning The Mogul managed to damage The Gambler’s career.
Hitting the jackpots
Regardless of how much he earns, Darrell seems to be satisfied with himself, and doing quite well financially. His lucky hits are some of the most sought-after items that have ever been featured in the show, and they’re bound to make a true fortune upon finding a new owner.
One such rare object was the 100-year-old antique trophy cup, found in the 14th episode of the 13th season. Darrell ended up paying $1,350 for a storage locker that seemingly only had two average-looking guitars as anything of value among the other junk, but this wasn’t really the case in the end.
First off, Sheets found a helmet with a radio and a Go-Pro camera embedded into it, which he immediately priced at $700. Eventually, the locker expert ran into the odd-looking cup that didn’t seem all too valuable at first glance, but since he had no idea what it could really be worth, the object was taken to a connoisseur for evaluation.
It turned out that the cup was offered as a trophy at prestigious contests, with signed Sterling silver on the rim and of a make dating back to the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. With everything considered, the item was appraised at $400, bringing the estimated total earnings of the $1,350 storage locker to just under $3,100.
In late 2022 Darrell is poised to find a lot more such wonders in the coming seasons of “Storage Wars,” readier than ever to take to the road and bid sometimes exorbitant amounts on uncertain winnings.
With a look at his Instagram account, it becomes clear that Sheets is preparing for a lot more storage locker hunting. Aside from that, The Gambler’s posts also tend to relate to his family members, nature or the Christian faith. One such example is his remembrance of the 9/11 tragedy, in which the TV star said ‘God bless all the lives lost on this day 9-11 #newyork #911 #remember #storagewars @aetv.’