Dave Hester was one of the controversial people in the hit American reality television series “Storage Wars.” The original cast member was shown to have such a boorish and ill-bred attitude in the show, that many viewers grew to dislike him immensely. His personality could be likened to those fictionalized villain characters in daytime drama series, who the viewers loved to hate, but still looked for him in every episode. He became more interesting to fans when he sued the TV show with controversial claims, then retured to be part of the show for several seasons, as if the lawsuit never happened. Fans were curious as to what became of the most hated man in the show after he was conspicuously absent for the past two seasons.
- 1 All about “Storage Wars”
- 2 Get to know Dave Hester, a.k.a. “The Mogul”
- 3 Dave Hester’s many seasons with “Storage Wars”
- 4 Dave went into a legal battle with the producers of the show
- 5 Dave Hester was back in the show after the case was settled
- 6 What is Dave Hester doing these days?
All about “Storage Wars”
Prior to 2010, no one thought that a business as mundane as self-storage containers would generate so much interest in the viewing public in the US and elsewhere.
The premise of the show
A huge facility of over two billion square feet of space in the US that could easily house every man, woman, and child seven times over, was the main focal point of the hit series called “Storage Wars.” Later on, the show featured smaller storage facilities as there wasn’t any town or city in the US that didn’t have at least one. The contents of most storage units are auctioned off when the renter hasn’t paid the bill for three months. Several people would scramble to bid for any abandoned storage units, as more often than not, they contained valuable objects that they could resell, sometimes at a considerable profit. It’is a thriving business, not only for the auctioneers but also for the buyers, also known as auction hunters or storage warriors.
14 seasons and counting
“Storage Wars” made its TV debut on 1 December 2010, and became one of the most-watched shows on the A&E cable channel. From its inception up to January 2019, it had 12 successful seasons, but for some reason it stopped airing new episodes, and everyone thought that it was canceled. However, in 2021, to the fans’ delight, the show came back for its 13th season, and continued to generate huge interest from viewers. It aired its 14th season from November 2021 to April 2022, and devoted fans expected it to be back on the small screen soon this 2023. The reality TV show also created about 10 spin-off series, all produced by the same network.
Storage auction rules – Don’t poke, don’t scratch, don’t kick, just look.
Abandoned storage unit buyers would gamble their money because most of them believed that behind the doors of those storage lockers, there was a huge possibility that they held some of the world’s best-kept treasures. These so-called storage wars could get ugly, and to ensure that each auction would go smoothly, all of them followed the basic storage auction rules. For instance, it was a cash-only sale, and all sales were final. After opening a door, buyers only had five minutes to look at what’s inside, but no one was allowed to actually step into the unit, nor open any boxes. After that five-minute inspection, the bidding war would start, and the unit would be sold to the highest cash bidder. The winner of the auction would then lock down the unit, and they would all move on to the next abandoned locker to be sold.
Get to know Dave Hester, a.k.a. “The Mogul”
All the six original storage unit buyers in “Storage Wars” were usually given aliases, and Dave Hester was known as “The Mogul.”
Dave Hester was born on 23 July 1964, and while he was a native of Oceanside, California, his parents of Irish and German descent mostly raised him in Pendleton Marine Corps Base, as his father served in the military. He was already exposed to the auction industry at an early age, as his father became a prominent auctioneer in California. The young Dave would accompany his father to his auction events, and knew early on that he would pursue a career in the same trade.
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From a furniture shop to a thrift store owner
After matriculating from high school, Dave worked for his father, and by 1992 he already had his license as an auctioneer. He also pursued other interests, such as working for a furniture company, and eventually opening his own shop. A driving under the influence (DUI) conviction sometime in 2005 changed the course of his life, as he spent many hours at a local Goodwill Store as part of his community service sentence. The experience highly inspired Dave to expand his business interests – he had a light bulb moment, and so he transformed his furniture shop into a store called Rags to Riches Secondhand Store, and later established a Newport Consignment Gallery. Little did he know that this decision would create a path for him to become a reality TV star.
His resale business thrived
Buying abandoned storage units and selling the items inside them became a huge source of income for Dave; through years of hard work, his business flourished. One of the highlights of his business dealings was when he won an auction bidding on a unit that he felt would bring him a valuable treasure. His instinct was quite remarkable, because he found an art collection inside it, which turned out to be quite profitable because of a painting called The Golden Pool. He paid a measly $750 for the storage unit, and made a big profit as he sold its contents for close to $160,000, which made him one of the most recognized faces in the local abandoned storage auction industry, and was one of the reasons why he was offered a spot in the reality TV series.
Dave Hester’s many seasons with “Storage Wars”
Out of all the eight original cast members of “Storage Wars,” Dave Hester’s journey has been the most controversial. He stayed with the reality TV series for 11 seasons, which earned him the ire of some members of the production crew, cast, and fans, because of his annoying and detestable attitude. His audacity stemmed from being in the business for more than 20 years prior to his appearance in the show, and that he had the largest operation compared to other regular buyers.
His life as an auction buyer in the show
From the get-go, viewers already had an inkling of Dave’s character. He bragged that once he entered an auction, the bidding price automatically went up, and that he was never intimidated by the other buyers on the scene. He said that once they all got inside the gate, there was no such thing as friendships, or any need for professional courtesy between them. Dave usually had about $10,000 in his pocket and sometimes more, whenever he went to an auction, as he preferred to be cash-ready for the units that he wanted to buy. With his years of experience, he knew what signs to look for in guessing the value of the contents of an abandoned storage unit
After the storage bidding war, most of the buyers who had acquired units would take home their haul for the day. Dave would unload his haul back in his consignment store in Newport Beach, California so that his crew could process them. It was where they could distinguish what was valuable, and what was deemed to be trash. He and his assistant would look at each object and exchange opinions if they could make money out of it; however, he said that since he was the boss, his decision was final. While his years of experience helped a lot in his business dealings, it didn’t guarantee that every single unit that he bought would make him rich. Sometimes he also ended up with a bust.
Why did he earn the title of the most hated man in “Storage Wars”?
According to Dave Hester’s former co-workers in the show, everyone found him greedy, arrogant, annoying, abrasive, and ungrateful. While it had been true for most businesses that they needed to adopt an attitude of ‘It’s every man for himself, and the best one wins,’ he took it several notches higher. Since the buyers often saw each other in auctions, they somehow developed a camaraderie. They might not be close friends, as they always try to outbid each other for desirable units in the facility, but still displayed professional courtesy and ample respect toward one another. However, Dave was the exception, because he didn’t care what others thought of him, and couldn’t care less if they all burned in hell.
Dave knew that he was the big fish in a pond with small players. It was understandable that he would take every single unit that he could, because he had 15 employees whose livelihood depended on his hauls, but he was quite nasty in dealing with everybody. He was once described as, ‘A stout, petty man who dresses in all black and walks with a sort of wounded pride of the winner of a chicken-wing-eating contest.’ For some, it might be a scathing description, but Dave had already uttered harsher statements to all those who bothered to listen to him. Many fans called him all the vile adjectives in the dictionary, and some weren’t afraid to say them to his face when they saw him filming for the show. His negativity was the one thing that viewers couldn’t forget about him. Initially, everyone thought that he was just acting out a character to make the “Storage Wars” a little bit more interesting; however, after a while, they all realized that he wasn’t acting. He was a real 100% spoiled and entitled person who nobody wanted to engage with, since he behaved as if he was above everyone else.
Fired from the TV show after the third season
Dave Hester didn’t make an appearance in the fourth season of “Storage Wars”; back then, most viewers thought that his despicable personality must have been the reason for his exit from the show. No one had any idea that the reality TV star had complained, and made allegations that the producers created fake scenarios to go with a certain narrative that they wanted to follow throughout the series. He claimed, ‘The truth is that (producers) regularly salt or plant the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the series.’ It meant that the valuable or rare objects inside the abandoned storage units that were auctioned off in the show were pre-arranged by the production crew. He even said that those small players in the auction were funded by the producers, to ensure that they could participate in the bidding process. The reality TV star said that he wasn’t comfortable participating in the whole rigging thing.
Dave went into a legal battle with the producers of the show
After he was fired, The Mogul shocked “Storage Wars” fans as in 2012 he sued the production company, “Original Productions,” and the A&E cable network, questioning the show’s authenticity, and in 2013, added wrongful termination to his lawsuit.
— Nabila Haniss (@NabilaHaniss) March 22, 2014
His reasons for suing the people behind “Storage Wars”
Dave claimed that the unethical behavior of rigging the show was a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, which forbids ‘influencing, prearranging or predetermining outcome of contests of knowledge, skill or chance.’ The salting of the storage units, he said, undermined his skills, and made him less proficient as compared to the other buyers, which caused his business to lose clients. The defendants, on the other hand, raised the anti-SLAPP defense as their answer to his claim. The judge dismissed Dave’s unfair business practices claim, and ordered him to pay a little over $120,000 for the legal expenses that the defendants incurred. Regarding his wrongful termination claim, the judge gave him another chance to pursue it, as he had grounds to continue with that claim provided that he could be more specific about it. Apparently, he said that he was fired after he voiced his concerns to the management.
Settled the legal dispute in 2014
When Dave’s legal team focused on the wrongful termination claim, and backed down from his original claim about the rigging practices in the show, the Los Angeles District Judge ruled in his favor, as the case boiled down to just an employment dispute. The case lasted for two years with both parties winning and losing in some of their claims, but managed to end the controversial lawsuit by reaching an agreement.
Dave Hester was back in the show after the case was settled
To the dismay of the other cast members, Dave returned to “Storage Wars” during the fifth season, after his relationship with the network improved, and this shocked viewers. The success of the show might have faltered slightly due to the controversy, but when the legal dispute was settled and everyone moved on, it continued to attract millions of viewers. The reappearance of Dave in the show seemed to make “Storage Wars” even more interesting, and helped boost the ratings. The resident villain was back, continuing to create havoc during the bidding wars until the 12th season. Due to the pandemic, the A&E network didn’t air any new episodes until 2021.
During the 13th season, Dave wasn’t in his usual acerbic form, and he didn’t appear much in the newer episodes. It was reported that he had a hemorrhagic stroke, a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds, due to an unhealthy lifestyle and working habits. Over the years, he developed high blood pressure and sleep apnea, which caused him stop breathing while he was asleep.
Some fans believed that “Storage Wars” was cursed, as Dave wasn’t the only one in the show who suffered unfortunate life-changing experiences. One of the resident auctioneers, Dan Dotson, had a double aneurysm scare in 2014. Husband and wife Jarrod Schulz and Brandi Passante broke up during the pandemic break; the couple tried to keep it a secret, but eventually told everyone that they’d called it quits. Talks about the show being cursed reportedly started during the lawsuit, as one of the earliest victims was Mark Balelo, an auction house owner who was featured in the show. He was later found to have committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in February 2013.
What is Dave Hester doing these days?
The feisty storage unit buyer took advantage of his popularity, and was busy in his meet and greet events if he wasn’t attending to his own auctioneering business. He could still be heard uttering his popular catchphrase, ‘Yuuup!,’ during auctions, and selling merchandise related to it; he settled a lawsuit against rapper Trey Songz about its commercial use. Initially, Trey claimed that it was his signature brand and that he used it first, so he filed a cease and desist order against Dave. However, Dave had attempted to register it as his trademark three times, which the rapper never did. They eventually settled it out of court, but signed a non-disclosure agreement so no one knew what was behind the settlement.
Aside from making sure that his new business flourishes, his wife, Donna, and son Dave Jr. are also helping him to focus more on his health, as they don’t want another medical emergency happening to Dave.