Dave Hester: From ‘Storage Wars’ to ‘Gypsy Auctioneer’

By    April 24, 2014

Dave Hester

It easily could be the warehouse from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

In the midst of a maze of industrial buildings in East Los Angeles, former “Storage Wars” star Dave Hester is standing before a literal mountain of “vaults”—large wooden boxes containing potential “treasures” from repossessed self-storage units.

In a few minutes, Hester is going to auction off the vaults to the highest bidders.

Making Auctions ‘Cool’
“‘Storage Wars’ made it cool to go out to auctions,” said Hester, who offers auctioneering services through DaveHesterAuctioneer.com. “People are out treasure-hunting now, so it’s a good thing for auctions all over America. We’ve educated a lot of people about the industry. They’ve seen it on TV, and it is popular and in.”

Hester now is locked in a legal battle with cable TV’s A&E Television Networks and production company Original Productions over allegations that he was fired from “Storage Wars” for claiming the reality show is staged.

Update: The legal battle was resolved in July 2014, and Hester was set to return to “Storage Wars” in August 2014. To read more about the legal settlement, visit blog.sparefoot.com/6578-dave-hester-returning-to-storage-wars.

The show—depicting “modern-day treasure hunters”—has “captured the public’s interest by combining elements of competition and business strategy with the mystery of discovering what surprises may be found in an abandoned storage unit,” according to court documents filed in the case. “The program … plays off of the old adage, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’”

Dave Hester

Dave Hester runs the show at a storage auction in East Los Angeles.

Mining for Gold
Hester said people enjoy the mystery of guessing which up-for-auction storage unit might contain the next “gold mine.” Hester has been in the auction industry for 27 years; he once bought a rare painting for $750 and sold it for $155,000.

“There have been bigger finds than I’ve had and there have been smaller finds, but that’s what keeps people in business,” Hester said. “It’s like gold mining. A guy can find a $100 nugget or he can find a $1 million nugget—and there are nuggets of all shapes, sizes and forms.”

For me, it was hard to soar with the eagles when I was constantly surrounded by turkeys.
— Former “Storage Wars” star Dave Hester

After wrapping up an interview with The SpareFoot Blog, Hester laid down the rules for the few dozen bidders gathered for this storage auction: cash only, plus a 10 percent buyer’s premium and payment of sales tax for anyone without a reseller’s license.

Energetic and Upbeat
After the auction, bid winners had positive things to say about Hester’s professional demeanor, fairness and upbeat attitude.

“He’s energetic,” Pomona, CA, resident Randy Meastas said. “He’s positive. He’s upbeat. He likes making money, and he works hard. He knows his business. He’s respected.”

Meastas, a schoolteacher, attends storage auctions to make a bit of money on the side. He’s never found anything like a $155,000 painting, but an assortment of jewelry, rings, watches, air-conditioning units, refrigerators and other finds have resulted in some decent profit. At the Hester auction, he spent $200 for a vault of unknown items, many of them wrapped in blankets or plastic.

Dave Hester

One auction bidder describes Dave Hester (right) as energetic and upbeat.

“It’s a lot of work because you have to box them up and ship them out on eBay or go to swap meets,” Meastas said. “You’ve got to clean them out. There are a lot of steps involved. It’s not just the bidding here. It’s hauling it, too. I’ve got a little truck.”

South El Monte, CA, resident Cesar Galvez owns Make me N offer, which sells merchandise purchased at auctions and elsewhere. Galvez regularly attends these types of auctions for his business. Over the years, he’s come across several treasures, including a New York Yankees picture from the 1960s.

Galvez said he’s purchased items at previous Hester-run actions “and made quite a bit of money.”

Raised on Auctions
The son of a military man and train collector, Hester was born at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base near Oceanside, CA, and grew up around antiques and collectibles. He often attended auctions, estate sales and garage sales with his parents, who bought items of value to supplement their income. At age 14, he began attending auctions himself—buying machinery and tools to sell to military-base shops in Orange County, CA.

“I just kind of grew up in the business with my father buying and selling,” Hester said. “So I’ve been around auctions, swap meets and garage sales since I was 5 years old.”

He attended his first storage auction in 1986. In the early 1990s, he worked as a bid catcher—someone who relays bids to an auctioneer—and as an auctioneer. Eventually, he bought and sold millions of dollars worth of merchandise a year. More recently, he owned Newport Consignment Gallery and the Rags to Riches thrift store in Costa Mesa, CA, both of which he sold.

Dave Hester

Dave Hester poses with other members of the “Storage Wars” cast.

The War Over ‘Storage Wars’
In 2010, Hester was offered a role on “Storage Wars,” a popular reality show that during its second season became the most-watched program in A&E history.

“I guess they picked me for my charming personality,” Hester said. “I did three seasons, and I think they’ve done one season after that. For me, it was hard to soar with the eagles when I was constantly surrounded by turkeys.”

Things went south in 2012, when A&E executives banned him from the series. In December of that year, Hester filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against A&E and Original Productions, alleging unfair business practices. Hester claimed he was fired after he complained that storage units were being “salted” with valuable items that would be discovered by the winning bidder, according to court records.

“After AETN complained about plaintiff’s improper use of AETN’s trademarks, and concurrently with plaintiff’s demand to renegotiate his agreement to participate in the program, plaintiff suddenly raised ‘concerns’ about the program’s authenticity,” attorneys for A&E and Original Productions wrote in court documents. “Original and AETN opposed Hester’s demands for more favorable contract terms, and he was notified that his participation was no longer needed in the program.”

Part of the lawsuit was dismissed in March 2013. A judge ordered Hester to cough up $122,000 in legal fees, but Hester refused to pay, according to court documents. In October, Hester’s attorney, Marty Singer, told Radar Online that he wants to take the case to trial.

Los Angeles attorney Kelli Sager, who represents A&E, declined to comment on the case. Singer could not be reached for comment.

Dave Hester

Dave Hester sits outside Newport Consignment Gallery.

‘Gypsy Auctioneer’
As he awaits the outcome of the legal fight, Hester is offering auctioneering services for a variety of merchandise, including antiques and collectibles, art, audio equipment, commercial and industrial inventory, musical instruments, new and used home furniture, restaurant equipment and sporting goods.

Hester said that what sets him apart from other auctioneers is that when he looks at an item or an entire inventory, he knows the current market value, related expenses and logistics. A lot of auctioneers who handle sales for moving and storage companies don’t know the values of the items that they’re selling, Hester said.

“I spent 10 years buying out of homes, strictly buying estates, or a house a lot of times, so when a vault is being sold, I know the value of it,” Hester said. “If there is a Steinway piano in there, I know if it’s a $10,000 or a $15,000 piano. If it’s a pool table, I know the value of it. If it’s a bedroom set based on a brand name, I know the value so I can talk about it and I can generate more money for the owner of the facility, whereas 95 percent of the auctioneers out there don’t have a clue what they’re selling.”

In the post-“Storage Wars” era, Hester said he’d like to become a “gypsy auctioneer.”

“My ultimate goal would be to have an auction at least once a day anywhere in California or the western United States,” Hester said. “I’d like to buy a motor home—and not even have a home address anymore—and just travel from one town to the next and be a gypsy auctioneer.”

  • FlyOnWall

    has been in only 3 years

  • domoska

    hooo :o

  • Alan

    I met that dick hester years ago back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. he was a complete dick then. and nothing has changed from then. after seeing his actions in storage wars and after. I wouldn’t trust that low life with any thing. and I mean anything. he would tell any lie or rip off his own family to make a buck. he,s got to be the biggest douche bag I have ever met in more than 49 yrs of life.

  • FatAssFu

    All of these guys in the “storage auction” business are scumbags by default. They are thumbing through peoples belongings basically stealing their personal items and throwing away valuable family heirlooms and photos without blinking. This business has to be a magnet for scumbags.

  • IhateIdiots

    You are and idiot. If the people would pay their storage unit bill then there would be NO auctions. Now shut the hell up Moron

  • Alan

    I met that lowlife hester years ago back in the late 80’s or early 90’s. he was a complete lowlife then. and nothing Ive seen since Has changed my mind. I wouldnt trust that lowlife for any reason. He’d ripoff off his own family to make a buck. If you look up lowlife scumbag in the dictionary. You would see his picture.

  • Alan

    Hey dumb a** he has an opinion just like you. And if anyone is a moron its you. While there are decent people in the biss. A lot of them are as he discribes. I know ive been in the biss. For more then 30yrs.So you can shut up. And wipe the sh*t off your lips.

  • J

    Full o shit

  • J

    Get a life ya shit licker

  • D.h

    Well spoken I hate idiots too thanks for caring yahall D.H

  • Alan

    I’m sure you are

  • Alan

    I’m sure you are. And did you get it all wiped off.

  • Pearl

    Except the dictionary would say it a LOT better.

  • bruce

    where can i get this cap from?

  • Whohateshester

    Dave Hester didn’t sue A&E because of fraudulent business practices. He sued because Barry , Brandy and Jarod all got their own shows…and he couldn’t convince A&E that people would be interested in a show about a gay teletubby garbage digger with a inbred sheep humpers catch phrase like “YUUUUUP” …And why does he present his gay lover as his “son” ” Dave Jr” ?

  • Bethebby

    I’ve been to these auctions and they require all buyers to turn over all papers, photos, etc., to the office so they can be returned to the owner. The scumbags are the people who don’t pay their bills then cry when they lose their stuff. It’s the epidemic of scumbag deadbeats that have strained our economy by not paying their bills and lives off the government rather than having personal accountability and going out, getting a job, pay their bills and taxes and give a positive contribution to society, that have caused the moral decay of our society. If you want to feel bad for someone, feel bad for the kids of these deadbeat douchebags.

  • Crystal Ozuna

    I find your post disrespectful & a show of ignorance. Everyone has circumstances. I had a storage unit that had everything I owned, including letters, 7 years worth of letters between my husband & myself along with momentos of the beginnings of our relationship. I also had personal papers in there as well. The storage company did not require the people who purchased my locker for $5.00. I called & begged them to please contact the purchasers about those letters & pictures & other momentos, I’d pay them to have them back. They refused but took my number & if they called to inquire who may own them they will give them our number. Now before you call me a scumbag, I had a botched surgery that rendered me severely disabled. This friend was going to pay most of the unit while we added her to our cell phone plan, in 2002. Synod was before the day of unlimited text. You bought them by the hundreds up to 1200 msgs. At first all seemed well & we faithfully gave her our share of storage. She racked up up over $1,200 in 2 months & told us not to pay the storage & she would catch up on the bill. I was extremely ill, nerve damage, no walking or use of my hands. It was a nightmare. Well after several months went by, she was not paying the phone bill or taking our calls so we suspended her being able to make or receive calls so we can text her. OMG. She texted in 1 month over 2000 text messages to our horror. I cried & told my husband to call the storage right away & see if we need to catch it up, that was on a Monday. Ironically they sold the unit the prior Friday for $5.00. Everything we owned, tables chairs couches bedroom sets washer & dryer, you name it it was there. I went into the hospital, my husband texted her & told her off & then later that day he cut her line completely leaving us with the $250.00 early termination fee, and because it was on our plan it affected our phones eventually being shut off because the final bill was close to $3,000 dollars. So we had no cell phones, no personal belongings for when we moved, me chronically ill ever since not because of the storage that did send me into the hospital & it’s taken years for us to gather new belongings & get a place to live. We were able to get cell phones elsewhere but the other is on our credit report. So when we got this one for $50.00 I did feel for them & called them & got them their wedding pics to them & imp papers & it had been over a year since they’ve been to the unit & moved out of county. They were grateful for the photos etc & were happy to help us make our home look like a real home. One we can be proud of. So please remember you don’t know everyone’s circumstances. Ya some don’t deserve the units because they just don’t pay & do have the nerve to get upset. Scumbag is a strong word. Irresponsible is a more proper word. We were not. Our mistake was trusting someone we knew years. So don’t judge. You never know when u can be in the same situation. Thanks for reading my story.

  • Crystal Ozuna

    That’s funny

  • Boston”CantFeelMyFace”George

    Storage wars has gone to crap. Barry’s show was a flop and Brandi and Jarrod’s show is boring as hell and now they gave Dave a show? I have no doubt the show is planting stuff in the lockers after other networks started making shows similar. The first 2 years of the show were interesting but now A&E is running out of a good ideas for shows.

  • oregon gal

    excuses, excuses. I know that stuff happens, but your bills do not stop coming. First things first you or your family should have called the storage place and if they are not willing to work with you, you need to find some family members to clean it out for you so you do not lose them. I have had a lot of medical stuff happen to me in the past year, but your monthly bills do not stop.

  • Crystal Ozuna

    Wow. Just as I expect. Compassion. My husband paid our bills. Our error was not changing the address on the storage. But I guess when your wife is almost dead on the operating table & 12 days in ICU & 27 days in the hospital really makes a person remember everything. My coming home almost put me in a coma for a stupid doctor letting me out to early with a raging infection. So ya I guess excuses excuses. People quit finding a way to judge. We know our error but we know extenuating circumstances exist. That’s why I mailed those people their things. Compassion. Love of fellow man. Knowing only 1 can judge. GOD.

  • fuckdave

    Dave hester is a trashy cunt termite id like to kick hi in the twat. Fucking cry baby faggot

  • English ford

    what I do not understand is if you know you are no longer going to be able to pay on a storage unit you do not take what is valuable and important out of storage? Papers, contracts, small valuables etc why are the left in a locker?
    I can understand large furniture etc but not these important items.

  • wool

    all these shows are from the same company you think storage wars new york and storage wars canada are from different networks?

  • FatAssFu

    Some people who have storage lockers live out of state. Some people have no opportunity to get back to that state and take out their more valuable possessions. Honestly, its all just stuff. Material stuff. So in the end, its not a big loss for your soul.

  • FatAssFu

    I’ll watch Dave’s show if he sells his stuff from swap meets.

  • https://www.facebook.com/VerlonandHollyBradford Verlon Holly

    bet u r friends or family of the guy standing up for him when hes a dick to everybody he meets

  • https://www.facebook.com/VerlonandHollyBradford Verlon Holly

    if they wanted their stuff theyda paid three bill

  • JANICE MENUNZIO

    WHAT A PIECE OF SHIT, WASTE OF SKIN, GOOF

  • Alan

    Dave certainly is full of it… you got that right..

  • Aaron White

    I call deadbeat.

  • Crystal Ozuna

    Bravo

  • Crystal Ozuna

    Once again I had a life threatening surgery that almost took my life. A friend promised to take care of it & we were busy seeing if I’m gonna live. Today of course we are back on track paying all our bills on time, but I have been by the state completely disabled from this botched surgery & can’t walk, can barely write from spinal cord nerve damage from a surgery that was suppose to be 4 hours was 10 hours. I’m lucky I walk at all. But go ahead and judge us. I’m sad to lose certain momentos but I’m glad I’m alive. Pease out. http://www.jw.org. I’m done with this conversation.

  • Crystal Ozuna

    I call you an unkind person. read my post above & you’ll see what happened to me. Be judge & jury. My judge is God. http://www.jw.org. I hope you will one day find compassion.

  • Steve

    Cry more Crystal, maybe next time you will learn to handle your business. You added someone who couldn’t be trusted to act like an adult with their cellphone and didn’t even bother to check your own cellphone bill FIRST month after adding a new person. Honestly, who doesn’t look at the amount on their own cellphone bill before paying it? Also, adding someone to your cellphone plan would be a comparable cost to the storage unit payments, so why not just pay the unit instead of adding them to your plan, seems like a better idea than adding them to your plan in exchange for them paying your storage unit bill. What was your perfectly healthy husband doing during all this? If you knew you were going into massive debt, like you would have known as soon as the botched surgery was over, why did you not then begin to make plans to remove your belongings from the storage unit you knew you couldn’t pay for? You said you knew how much money she racked up on your cellphone bill but let “several months” go by before removing your friend from the bill? Before you get all angry at people, learn to not be so stupid and irresponsible with your money and belongings. It would have taken you five minutes to make a Craigslist add hiring someone to empty your locker for you if you were too far away. But again, you had a perfectly healthy husband through this affair who could have easily handled the problem if you weren’t so clueless about whats going on in your own life.

  • Steve

    If your husband paid your bills, the problems you are describing would have not occurred. Also, you said in your first post that your friend was paying the bill on the storage unit, not your husband. Get your story straight? Finally, since God is omnipotent, if this happened to you it was because God wanted/allowed it to happen.

  • Steve

    Alan, you are the moron. What IhateIdiots said wasn’t an opinion it was fact. If these people had paid their bills, their units would not be auctioned off. Pretty simple to understand. Your grammar and spelling are so amazingly horrible I think you lost the right to comment on the intelligence of anyone.

  • Alan

    Oh Wow and a grammar nazi too..
    Im so insulted. I geuss yu put m e in my places

  • Texasbacksass

    Advice for hester….stay out of dallas texas….the rednecks there assasinate presidents….they wouldn’t even hickup to end you bub….

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