Sometimes luck doesn’t just happen to you. Sometimes you have to go out and find it.
Take Thomas Schultz, who with his business partner Lawrence Joseph bought a tiny cottage in Bellport, N.Y., in 2006. Intending to flip it, Schultz then learned that the art the previous owners left behind was worth $30 million.
“I believe that one can create their own luck,” Schultz told ABC News’ Amy Robach.
The artist was Arthur Pinajian, who worked in comic books and lived with his sister in the cottage, where he spent decades creating abstract expressionist art, and died in obscurity. Pinajian’s family wanted Schultz to trash the art. Schultz, who’d studied art history in college, couldn’t do it. He liked the work on a visual and human level, not for its resale value.
“I just knew it was someone’s life’s work,” he told Robach. “How could you throw someone’s life’s work into a Dumpster?”
For three years, Schultz worked with art experts to clean and catalogue the 7,000 pieces of art. Experts decreed that Pinajian was an undiscovered genius of modern art. A professional appraisal by Peter Hastings Falk put the collection’s worth — the conservative estimate — at $30 million.
Today Schultz runs a gallery showing Pinajian’s work. He lives in the cottage with his wife and three children. He has sold 200 paintings from the collection so far. Schultz and his team hope the collection will remain intact so that it can continue to be admired and studied as a whole. Schultz is preparing for the centennial, in 2014, of Pinajian’s birth, when multiple museums and gallery exhibitions will celebrate the man and his work.
Why not sell it all off and live the high life?
“We’ve created college funds for our daughters. We paid off our debt, we paid off our minivan,” Schultz said. “Good fortune is not measured in dollars.”
Do you believe in luck? If so, is it pure fate, or do you make your own luck? Chime in below, leave a comment on the luckiest moment of your life, and watch the full story on “20/20: Got Luck?” Friday at 10 p.m. ET.