Family treasures lost, found in auctioned Fayetteville storage unit

FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WTVD) -- A Fayetteville family is desperate for help after their mementos and family heirlooms left inside a storage unit were auctioned off.

"He absolutely adored his baby girl. She deserves to have those memories with him," said Sabrina Barr.

Those memories including the photos, trinkets and the clothing belonging to the late neurosurgeon Dr. Rene Kotzen locked away inside a unit at Storage King USA.

"A dear friend did me the favor of moving my things into a storage unit. The unit became delinquent because the payments weren't made," Barr said.

Barr and her daughter Cameron moved away from Fayetteville in 2016 but in the meantime, the unit's belongings were auctioned off. Thrift store owner Steve Soderholm was the highest bidder.

"A wooden chandelier worth $5,000 and a carousel horse made in the '80s, "Soderholm listed.

He thought he struck gold but soon learned everything else in that unit was priceless, too.

"These were his (Rene's) surgical glasses. I get to call her and tell her we have them," said Beverly Soderholm

ABC11 was there for the emotional phone call.

"I have some good news," said Beverly Soderholm. "I found your husband's glasses."

Sabrina Barr burst into tears, thanking Storage King and Timeless Treasures.

"They're made magnifying glasses essentially but made uniquely for each surgeon. So they're special," Barr said.

Many of the photos of the late Dr. Kotzen are likely lost but there are still a number of items that haven't been recovered.

  • a rucksack with Israeli lettering that Kotzen carried

  • a blanket depicting the four seasons

  • family scrapbooks

The Barr-Kotzen family is willing to purchase any of these items back.
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