Who was Big Sis?

Big Sis, whose real name was Robin Matte, was a beloved member of the “Auction Hunters” team from the beginning of the reality TV  show. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was a real-life big sister to her four siblings, Montessa, Fallon, Lucinda and Robert; they were all raised by their grandmother.

Despite a rough upbringing in a small town, Robin always strived for the spotlight and had an interest in acting and performing from a young age. Speaking of Robin, her sister Lucinda said ‘She was always in talent shows. She always knew she would be a star. You always say that, but people never really think it’s going to happen – well, she made that happen.’

In 2003, when 26 years old, Robin received her cancer diagnosis. Somebody else might have given up on their dreams at that point, but she kept her spirits up, and even moved to Hollywood, where she found herself an agent, and landed several roles in music videos.

In 2007, she appeared in the documentary drama TV series “Operation Repo”, which depicted the world of car repossession. Three years later, Robin became a permanent cast member of “Auction Hunters”, a popular reality TV series about turning a profit from buying abandoned storage units.

In the show, we came to know her as ‘Big Sis’, the owner of a small shop at Haff Ton. Although ‘Big Sis’, was more or less a character Robin played on the show, she poured her heart into it, and stayed true to herself.

Cause of death

Robin passed away in May 2014, but most fans had no idea what happened to her until “Auction Hunters” aired a segment about her later that year. This sad news shook many fans of the series, and her family said that they received messages of condolence from people all around the world.

The sudden announcement of Big Sis’ passing opened the door to a lot of speculation about the cause of her death. Many suspected that she might have had drug use issues, or had committed suicide. Ultimately, the family broke their silence in June 2014, revealing that she had been quietly suffering from cancer for years, leading up to her death.

Posted by Ton Jones on Friday, May 16, 2014

Robin was diagnosed in 2003, and the doctors only gave her a few years to live. ‘She knew tomorrow wasn’t promised to her,’ Robin’s sister, Lucinda, said in an interview. ‘So she had to do something today.’ At one point, it seemed like Robin’s health had started improving, and she had far exceeded the doctors’ initial prognosis. Unfortunately, in March 2014 her cancer returned aggressively, and she was forced to bow out of “Auction Hunters”.

Robin’s absence was explained by her move to Milwaukee, and she was replaced by Ellie Soares. She didn’t want her struggles to be revealed to the public at that time – she was looking for the right moment to tell the fans, but it never came. ‘You couldn’t tell from looking at Robin that she had cancer, because she refused to be treated like a cancer patient. She didn’t want that, because she did not want to let that stop her’, Linda revealed.

Remembering Big Sis

During her last days, Big Sis was surrounded by her family and friends. She never let her spirits down, and kept a smile on her face until the very end.

Her relentlessly positive attitude was missed by the fans of “Auction Hunters”, many of whom took to social media to express their condolences. ‘So very sorry to hear this! She seemed like an awesome person, LOVED seeing her on your show. She will be missed,’ one fan wrote on Robin’s Facebook page. Many fans from all around the world also wrote comments on the funeral home’s guest book, and attended the funeral service – Robin’s family welcomed this outpouring of love with open arms.

‘It’s like destiny that she’s remembered as Big Sis,’ Robin’s sister said. ‘That’s who she was, she was everybody’s big sis. Because of “Auction Hunters” she will live forever on the Internet. You can look her up, she’s alive, she’s happy, she’s full of life, and I’m so thankful for that.’

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Auction Hunters

The show that made Big Sis famous, “Auction Hunters”, started airing on the Spike network in November 2010. It follows the duo consisting of Allen Haff and Clinton ‘Ton’ Jones as they take part in storage unit auctions across Southern California and other parts of the US. The two have vast experience in a variety of fields, including mystery safes and gun history.

In each episode, Allen and Ton try to make the best deal to buy an abandoned storage unit and then sell the best finds for a hefty profit. As explained to the viewers, the two actually do this for a living, and tend to purchase hundreds of storage units per year, but with only the rarest finds making their way onto the show. A lot of their purchases end up making a very small profit, if any, but the whole operation is profitable in the end, since their most valuable finds make up for the lost money.

As we’ve had the chance to see, the business tends to be very cutthroat, as in each episode, Ton and Allen have to compete with many other buyers which adds another layer of intrigue to “Auction Hunters”.

Is the show fake?

Unfortunately, as fun as it is, “Auction Hunters” appears to be a largely scripted show. In 2012, former “Storage Wars” star Dave Hester filed a lawsuit, claiming that the producers of his show planted valuable items in storage units to make the show more entertaining. He further claimed that all the interviews with supposed buyers and auctioneers were scripted, but perhaps the craziest claim he made might be that the network paid for several female cast members’ plastic surgeries to make them more ‘appealing’. Although most of these claims were denied by the network, they did admit to switching items in some storage units to make them more exciting for the viewers.

Given the nature of reality TV, it’s likely that many of these claims can also apply to “Auction Hunters”. Another clue that the show is scripted are the stars’ IMDB bios. Looking at Ton’s profile, we can see that he had actually had a number of acting credits before appearing in “Auction Hunters”. His first role was in an episode of “CSI: New York”, and then he played an animal wrangler in “Venom in Vegas”.

His co-host, Allen, has 12 acting credits to his name, some of which include “CSI: Miami”, “Arrest & Trial”, and “So L. A.”. Lalo is also a professional actress, whose real name is Laura Soares, while Flula Borg is a musician in real life.

When the lawsuit controversy hit “Storage Wars”, showrunners of “Auction Hunters” tried to save face by launching a live show – which didn’t really work.

Nonetheless, many fans around the world still enjoy the show quite a lot, despite all the seemingly fake elements. Both Allen and Tom are very charismatic people who can make any find seem more interesting. Further, “Auction Hunters” has an educational element as well, as the hosts often share historical facts about some items they end up finding in storage units.

Why did “Auction Hunters” end?

During its time on air, “Auction Hunters” was one of the highest-rated reality shows on Spike TV; the first season was followed by close to two million people in the US alone. The series had also been broadcast in many other countries, including The Netherlands, Germany and Italy, where it gained an even bigger international fanbase.

So why did the show end so abruptly? Apparently, the series had to end due to Ton and Allen’s falling out. The troubles started in late 2013, and as we saw in season five, they did much of their usual business separately. When we last saw them on “Auction Hunters”, Ton had walked out on Allen. We’re yet to find out what exactly happened between the two of them, so any possible reason for their break-up is just a matter of speculation.

Since the end of “Auction Hunters”, Allen and Ton have both kept a relatively low profile. Right now, it seems highly unlikely that the network will be renewing the series any time soon.

Where are Allen Haff and Ton Jones today?

A Michigan native, Allen grew up in a family of antique dealers. At 24 years old, he moved to Texas with his girlfriend, where he worked for Disney. He quit a few months later and opened his own antique shop in Houston, and also became one of the first eBay vintage resellers.

After some time, he moved to California, where he switched his focus to hunting storage unit auctions. His first TV appearance was in the “Clean House” on Style Network back in 2003. The show quickly became the network’s biggest success up to that date and set the blueprint for other reality TV series focused on antique dealers. That’s right, if it wasn’t for Allen we might never have had shows such as “Storage Wars”, “American Pickers”, and “Pawn Stars”.

Allen showed off his knowledge of antique dealing in other shows, including “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life” and “My House is Worth That?”. Interestingly enough, before he appeared on “Auction Hunters”, Allen was offered a spot in “Storage Wars”, which he ended up declining.

He also had a short-lived acting career, and had played a number of small roles from 2000 to 2009. Allen is set to make a comeback in 2023, with a brief appearance in the upcoming fantasy drama movie “Rebel Moon”, which will star Charlie Hunnam, Stuart Martin and Sofia Boutella.

However, acting isn’t a full-time career for Allen who mostly makes his living from real estate. Further, he’s also running a high-volume liquidation company that specializes in film memorabilia and other vintage collectibles.

His “Auction Hunters” co-star, Clinton Jones isn’t any less successful than him today. A California native, Ton has been collecting old weapons, jewelry and currency since his teenage years. He was introduced to the world of storage units in 2002, when he was looking for a cheap car to wreck for fun. Along the way, he discovered that it can be a profitable business as well, and started making a living that way.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes, today was another amazing day with family and friends. And a special thank…

Posted by Ton Jones on Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Unlike Allen, Ton is entirely self-taught, but it doesn’t make him any less than an expert in the world of antique reselling. He is particularly knowledgeable on vintage swords and guns, as well as collectible baseball cards.

Prior to appearing on “Auction Hunters”, he made appearances in some TV documentaries, and had a role in an episode of “CSI: New York” in 2006. He hasn’t appeared in any TV shows since 2015.

Aside from being an expert on all things antique, Jones had also worked as a professional animal wrangler, and had made a living from his Reptile Rescue and Wildlife Services business.

Looking at his and Allen’s online activities, it appears that there isn’t any more bad blood between the two, as in 2020 and 2021, Ton made guest appearances on Allen’s YouTube channel. In one of the videos, Ton revealed that he had quit storage unit hunting, and moved to Texas. ‘I couldn’t handle California anymore. And I was born and raised there!’ He now works a nine-to-five job at a research and destruction company in Houston.

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