A Picasso from a Pawn Shop? Sure, it sounds counter-intuitive, but Gold & Silver Pawn has been in the fine art and rare collectibles business since 1988.
It all started when retired Navy sailor, Richard B. Harrison, widely known as "The Old Man" packed up his family and moved from San Diego to the "land of milk and honey," Las Vegas in 1980.
He started a coin store but his son Rick had other plans... a pawn shop. The only problem was the city of Las Vegas had decided that no pawn licenses would be issued until the city hit a population of 250,000, a figure which at the time seemed almost unobtainable. However, Rick was not deterred, he would dutifully call the city statistician once a month to get the latest population count. Finally, after years of regular calls, the statistician finally told Rick the words he had been waiting to hear, "I believe we are over 250,000." With that Rick went down to City Hall and received one of the first pawn licenses issued in Las Vegas for years.
Rick knew he could not compete directly with the nationwide corporate pawn chains so he sought to specialize. Utilizing his encyclopedic knowledge gleaned from a lifetime of voracious reading, he could spot the value in oddities, antiques, historical artifacts, art, and the like. The business acquired a bit of a reputation as that quirky spot on Las Vegas Boulevard you could find Rembrandts, a 400-year-old Samurai Sword or a diamond encrusted super bowl championship Ring.
Now from here the story gets a bit different depending on which "Pawn Star" tells it, but since Rick owns the website we are going with his account. Rick had always sought out any type of media exposure for the shop, local news, cable TV shows, etc. And it got him thinking how great it would be to have a reality TV show. So he pitched the idea to network, after network, after network.
Finally he got a crew from Leftfield productions to shoot a "sizzle reel," a test episode used to sell the idea to TV execs. There was one problem, they could only film on a Saturday and a crucial character had weekends off, The Old Man. Rick pleaded with his father to come down to the shop on his day off to film, but the Old Man was not having it yelling, "RICK! YOU ARE NEVER GETTING A DAMN TV SHOW!" But the salesman wasn't relenting and finally the old sailor agreed to come in.
Fast forward to the offices of History channel, they are meeting with one of the junior programming managers to screen the sizzle reel. They go to play the reel but the DVD player was broken! So they go down the hall asking if anyone can lend them a DVD player. Sure enough the VP of programming, the top of the food chain making decisions on new shows, beckoned them down to the corner office. They played the reel, the VP loved it and "Pawn Stars" was born.
Today we are nearing 600 episodes of "Pawn Stars" and the business is bigger than ever. We are able to use our worldwide reach, decades of experience and close ties with industry experts to make sure every item we sell is unquestionably authentic and priced fairly. Up to 3,000 people make their way to our shop every day, making us one of the top tourist attractions in Las Vegas.
We stand behind every item with our authenticity guarantee and a dedication to our clients, making Gold & Silver Pawn Shop one of the most widely recognized Art & Antiquity dealers in the world.
Which leads us all the way back to our patriarch the Old Man. Sipping his morning coffee, looking out over a line of fans waiting to enter the shop, he says to Rick... "You know getting this TV show was the best idea I've ever had."