Raffi Stepanian, NYC Treasure Hunter, Lives Off Tweezers and a Butter Knife


Queens man Raffi Stepanian tells the New York Post exclusively today that, “The streets of 47th Street are literally paved with gold.” With typical NYC street character (or nutjob) enthusiasm, Stepanian spends his days crawling around on the pavement in the Diamond District, where he uses tweezers, a butter knife, and a dirty Styrofoam cup to find “very valuable” chips of diamond, ruby, and platinum, along with broken scraps of jewelry, including clasps and earring backs. It’s like sifting through a really rich person’s garbage, but with more traffic.

“The percentage of gold out here on the street is greater than the amount of gold you would find in a mine,” he claims, dubiously. “It comes close to a mother lode because in the street, you’re picking up gold left by the industry.”

The Post claims that Stepanian finds enough to “make a living,” but quotes only one six-day haul of $819. If, for example, he scoured for six hours per day, that’s $22.75 an hour, admittedly way better than making lattes. Whether or not it’s a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t seem to cross the guy’s mind.