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1989: A Pennsylvania man finds a copy of the Declaration of Independence tucked inside the frame of a $4 flea market painting. He auctions it for $2.42 million.

1999: Bonnie Brown answers an ad for a part-time masseuse at a start-up with 40 employees. The pay: $450 a week, plus a pile of stock options. Five years later, she retires from Google a millionaire many times over.

2005: Ten bar patrons in Milan, Italy, go in on a lotto ticket that wins them $91.6 million, advancing the theory that the best ideas are born in pubs.

2007: Tickets to see violinist Joshua Bell can run $100 or more, but on a January morning, passersby experience his music for free at a metro station in Washington, D.C. (Well, not entirely for free—he did collect $32.17 in change.)

2008: After nearly six years of marriage, Heather Mills divorces Paul McCartney and walks away with $48.6 million. That's about $964 for every hour of wedded bliss.

2010: In her will, Grace Groner leaves stock she purchased for $180 back in 1935 to her alma mater. Lake Forest College gets a $7 million check.

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