Professional mover finds $16,500 in rare antiquities in the trash
Featured in the New York Daily News
By NICHOLAS HIRSHON
Daily News Writer
- Above — Art expert Howard Nowes (r.) examines artifacts found by
- Nick DiMola in Queens basement cleanout (Costanza for News)
- Photo and article taken from NY Daily News
One man’s trash turned into Nick DiMola’s treasure.
Five years after the Queens rubbish remover took home a mysterious barrel from a SoHo apartment, he opened it to find dozens of ancient Mexican artifacts.
The mix of bowls, figurines and jugs were made between 300 B.C. and 500 A.D., some by Mayans.
They’re worth an estimated $16,500 – and DiMola said he’s not at all surprised.
“There’s always something in the garbage worth money,” he said.
DiMola, 39, came to own the booty when his Ridgewoodcompany was hired to clear the cluttered space of abstract artist Clinton Hill, who died in 2003.
Hill left his possessions to his longtime partner, Allen Tran, who died just months later, said John Koegel, a lawyer for their estates.
The couple’s property fell to friends, who formed a nonprofit foundation to take the valuables from the studio.
Hill’s estate paid DiMola about $4,500 in October 2004 to clean out the artist’s Prince St. apartment, studio and basement storage.
The scuffed cardboard barrel was mistakenly considered trash and DiMola stuck it in a warehouse, where it collected dust for years.
He recently decided to peek inside just to see what treasure might await.
Even though no one intended to toss out the artifacts, Koegel said the foundation has no legal claim to recoup them from DiMola.
“If he is given a contract by the owner of property to remove and dispose of certain things, if the owner makes the mistake, that’s the way it is,” Koegel said.
Still, the attorney declined to congratulate DiMola on his find.
“I’m not happy for him,” Koegel said. “I’m sorry that [barrel] slipped through the cracks.”
The most valuable object that DiMola brought to upper East Side art dealer Howard Nowes for appraisal was a $1,000 stone ax god – perhaps intended as a sacrifice – from the Mezcala region of Mexico.
As for the pieces’ future, DiMola said he first planned to pack them back into the barrel. He doesn’t collect ancient art, so he said he was open to selling the pieces.
“I don’t see the beauty in this, to be honest with you,” he said. “I like things about history, but this pottery doesn’t grab me.”
Dimola Brothers – Main Office
1640 Summerfield Street
Ridgewood, NY 11385
Phone – (718) 326-6969
Fax – (718) 326-7979