"Storage units full of artwork. He has no idea what he has. He's never looked at it."

An offhand remark in a very remarkable Stan Lee video suggests that the Marvel Comics architect may be unknowingly in possession of a significant collection of lost Silver Age artwork, perhaps the largest collection in existence!The video was shot as a segment for Hollywood Treasures, a new SyFy series that spotlights lost relics from the entertainment industry. In the 12-minute clip, host Joe Maddalena presents Lee with a complete original artwork for Fantastic Four #12, the first Marvel Comics crossover, in which the FF encounter the Hulk. The footage is essential viewing, depicting a genuinely awe-struck Lee inspecting the stunning Jack Kirby pages for the first time in nearly 50 years. It's a rare pleasure to see the writer expressing such sincere enthusiasm for his and Kirby's work, as Lee's persona has been chiefly characterized by a winking hucksterism and unrelentingly self-deprecating sense of humor.

After Lee has left the scene, Maddalena reveals around 1:05 from the end of the video that according to one of Lee's associates, Lee is sitting on "boxes and boxes" of original artwork.

I said, "Does he have any artwork?" [Stan Lee's associate] goes, "Boxes and boxes in the garage." I said, "What do you mean, garage?" He goes, "Storage units full." I said, "Well, supposedly I've heard him say he doesn't have anything." The guy said, "Storage units full of artwork." He goes, "He has no idea what he has. He's never looked at it."

The rareness of early Marvel Comics artwork has been a subject of much sorrow for pop culture historians and art collectors. Is it possible that Stan Lee is in possession of much of American comics' auspicious history -- several Holy Grails worth of original artwork -- without even knowing it?

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