A man who was down on his luck and living in a shack in California got a new lease on life when he discovered a ratty old blanket that belonged to his grandmother was worth NZ$1.8 million.

Loren Krytzer, who lost his foot in a car crash, was living off paltry disability checks when he walked into a California auction room and came out a millionaire, thanks to the rare Navajo blanket that was almost thrown out after his grandmother died.

Krytzer was watching Antiques Roadshow when a blanket that looked identical to his appeared on the screen.

The blanket Loren Krytzer had stashed in his closet was made by Navajo people. Photo / John Moran Auctions
The blanket Loren Krytzer had stashed in his closet was made by Navajo people. Photo / John Moran Auctions

He then tried various auction houses to sell the blanket before John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, California, agreed to put it under the hammer, according to CNBC.

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Krytzer also provided a photograph of his great-great-grandfather at his North Dakota trading post, which helped boost interest.

The blanket became the most expensive item Moran's company had ever sold.

The sale of the blanket "gave me a new lease on life", Krytzer said. "It truly did."

He was living off just US$200 a month from his disability checks after the crash, which left him unable to work as a carpenter.

A photo Loren Krytzer provided of his great-great-grandfather John Chantland, right, at his trading post boosted interest in the blanket. Photo / Loren Krytzer
A photo Loren Krytzer provided of his great-great-grandfather John Chantland, right, at his trading post boosted interest in the blanket. Photo / Loren Krytzer

He has told US media that he went to his grandmother's house after she died to collect books she had promised him. The last bag in the house held two blankets handed down from his great-grandmother. The Navajo blanket was once put to use when his great-grandmother's cat had kittens, he said.

He put the blanket in the cupboard, where it stayed for seven years.

Loren Krytzer bought himself a new car and a custom motorbike. Photo / Loren Krytzer
Loren Krytzer bought himself a new car and a custom motorbike. Photo / Loren Krytzer

But now, he is finding that the unexpected windfall has brought its own challenges along with it, including high property taxes.

"It's not like it was 40 or 50 years ago," he says. "If I'd have gotten $1 million 50 years ago, I'd be rich right now. I would literally be rich."

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He bought two homes in Central California, but he is out about $10,000 a year in insurance and property taxes alone.

Krytzer also bought a new car and a custom motorcycle.

"I never had nothing like that, so I wanted a nice car, and I did, I bought one," he says.

He also lost his disability eligibility, so he has no income. Krytzer says he is looking to sell
his home and move to Idaho where life is more affordable.

"We're getting taxed to death here. I can't afford it," he says. "I'm from California, I grew up here, but without working, it's just hard to survive."

Family members have come out of the woodwork asking for a piece of the pie. He says his sister even threatened to sue him.

"I had people calling me and bugging me and stuff," Krytzer says. "People you haven't seen in years, family members that don't talk to you. . . . You get some money and they're like 'where's mine?'"

He also has a hard time explaining to his children that the US$1.3million he received isn't enough to buy them whatever they want.

'When I first got the money, I helped them out,' Krytzer said. "But now it's like I can't do it, I don't have it, and they are like 'you have millions of dollars, you're being selfish'."