This is what Storage Wars' Dave Hester is doing now

A&E's smash-hit reality series Storage Wars saw three seasons of chaotic energy with the recruitment of auctioneer Dave Hester, a modern-day treasure hunter with an eye for good finds and a penchant for playing the villain archetype. While in search for knick-knacks within the cramped spaces of abandoned, auctioned-off storage lockers, Hester was bound to do two things: drive up locker prices, and utter his signature (and trademarked) catch-phrase "Yuuup!" each episode.

But the reality TV star's charm didn't exactly seem to appeal to show execs. In fact, Hester publicly called out the network in 2012, claiming the show was faking much of the action on the series by planting certain finds and making up some narrative elements to add to the drama.

In 2012, the well-known picker claimed that he was no longer "comfortable participating in this charade," per USA Today. He went on to say that interviews were faked and that producers would schedule item appraisals sometimes weeks ahead of time before it appeared on the show.

He was rehired for season 5 after being terminated

"The truth is that Defendants regularly salt or plant the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the Series with valuable or unusual items to create drama and suspense for the show," the complaint reads, per Business Insider. "Defendants have even gone so far as to stage entire storage units, and will enlist the cooperation of the owners of the storage facilities to stage entire units."

Pretty strong language, critical of his employers, so perhaps it's no surprise that Hester was promptly terminated from the series. That in turn led to Hester filing a $750,000 wrongful termination suit against his former employers. He also accused the company of engaging in unfair business practices, according to ABC. The suit was settled in 2014, with Hester losing the battle and being ordered to pay A&E's legal fees. In March 2013, a judge ordered Dave to pay $122,000 for the legal dues, International Business Times reports. Hester eventually settled out of court in 2014 for an undisclosed amount.

However, it seems as if there were no hard feelings following the litigation, as Hester eventually rejoined the series for another three seasons, starting with Season 5.

His career skyrocketed thanks to the show

According to CelebWatch (posted on YouTube), Hester began his career by purchasing tools and antiques at garage sales and selling the finds at a military base shop in Orange County. At the start of the series, Hester owned Newport Consignment Gallery in Costa Mesa, California, and the Rags To Riches thrift store, but closed the shops in June 2011. He's now the owner and operator of his own auction house, Dave Hester Auctions, operating via davehesterauctioneer.com. His net worth is around $5 million, earning $25,000 from each Storage Wars episode that aired.

Per a 2014 interview with Sparefoot, Hester's Storage Wars was an asset when he established his own auctioneering business. He now spends his time running and consulting on auctions. Hester has been a licensed auctioneer in Southern California since 1992, which is likely how show producers initially found the TV personality.

In 2014, Hester told Sparefoot that he's happy the series has "made it cool to go to auctions": "People are out treasure-hunting now, so it's a good thing for auctions all over America. We've educated a lot of people about the industry. They've seen it on TV, and it is popular and in," Hester said.

A near-death experience

It also appears that the TV star is fairly well-versed in customer service: one client, Randy Meastas, said of Hester, "He's positive. He's upbeat. He likes making money, and he works hard. He knows his business. He's respected."

Amid the wild success of Storage Wars and Hester's return to the production, however, the star was rushed to the hospital in late 2018 after reportedly having a hemorrhagic stroke while sleeping, the result of high blood pressure and sleep apnea, per Cheatsheet. Hester was lucky. He spent some time in intensive care, followed by several months in recovery, relearning basic life tasks. Some fans suggest Hester escaped the "Storage Wars curse," stemming from the fact that many members suffered through illness or bizarre accidents.

Most recently, Hester lost a legal battle with global storage giant Public Storage after he mistakenly put a storage unit he bought for $12,000 up for auction. While the error was due to a "technical glitch," according to Law.com, Hester still had to give up the coveted unit when a California appeals court ruled against him in May 2020.