(CNN)The homeless man found a ratty picture of Bambi, the Disney character, in a trash bin and brought it to antique dealer Alexander Archbold to get a few bucks.
The men had made similar transactions before, and Archbold -- who owns the Curiosity Inc. store in Edmonton, Canada -- is generally quick with his appraisals. But this one was different.
At first Archbold thought he had bought a replica of an animation cel from the 1980s or 1990s. He thought if he removed the broken frame and cleaned it up, the picture might fetch $80 to $100.
He paid the homeless man, Adam Gillian, $20 for it.
But when he it took it out of the frame and flipped it over, Archbold discovered an old certificate of authenticity. Even more surprising: It had a copyright date of 1937. "Bambi" hit theaters in 1942.
Suddenly Archbold realized he had an original Disney animation cel -- a hand-drawn image on a celluloid sheet -- with much more value than he had initially thought.
"When I knew it was gonna sell for a lot of money, I knew it wasn't right to take it all," Archbold told CNN.
That's when he vowed to give Gillian half of whatever the proceeds were.
First, though, he needed to find him.
Archbold sold the piece on eBay for $3,700 in Canadian dollars. But then came the hard part: Finding a man with no fixed address.