LOS ANGELES — Mark Balelo, the flamboyant auctioneer who appeared on A&E’s “Storage Wars,” was found dead in his car on Monday morning, in what appeared to be a suicide.
According to the Ventura County (Calif.) Medical Examiner’s Office, the 40-year-old Balelo died of asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and exhaust fumes. He was found in a car parked in a garage at his Simi Valley auction house, Balelo Inc. Balelo, known as “Rico Suave” on the series, which follows a team of auctioneers who sell off the contents of reclaimed storage units to buyers, drew interest for the outlandish outfits he wore to auctions and for the large sums of cash he brought to auctions to buy items.
According to the Ventura County Star, Balelo was arrested at his business on Saturday on charges of possession of methamphetamines. Beyond Balelo’s “Storage Wars” fame, he was also known for returning a copy of “Action Comics” #1, the first appearance of Superman, to actor Nicolas Cage in 2011. The 1938 comic, with an estimated worth of $1 million, had been stolen from Cage’s home more than a decade earlier.
Balelo had acquired the comic when he purchased the contents of a reclaimed storage locker.
According to Balelo’s lengthy self-written bio on A&E’s website, the auctioneer was born in Portugal and lived in Brazil until the age of 14. He owned a gaming store called the Game Exchange and opened his auction house in 2011.