'American Pickers': Mike Wolfe Mourns Friend After Death

Mike Wolfe is mourning a close friend after their death. Following the return of American Pickers on Jan. 4, the History Channel star posted to Instagram with a tribute to Elmer Duellman, one of his mentors and the owner of Elmers Auto & Toy Museum in Fountain City, Wisconsin.

While Duellman passed away in 2019, the Jan. 18 episode of American Pickers was a special tribute to him. Calling the episode "bitter sweet and very special to me," Wolfe revealed that following Duellman's passing, the American Pickers team "received a call from his family to go thru some things that he had stored for years." Duellman was the former owner of Elmer's Auto & Toy Museum, with he and his wife Bernadette having spent six decades collecting cars, pedal cars, toys and automotive memorabilia, a collection that eventually became the museum. The museum closed in mid-2022 after 29 years, with Wolfe and the American Pickers team being invited to go thru the museum's collection before a four-day auction of items in September, which brought in $8.5 million dollars, according to WXOW. Ahead of the episode, Wolfe said he was "excited to tell this man's story thru the items that we find. It's an inspirational one that I'm proud to share."

Wolfe first shared news of Duellman's passing back in August 2019, informing fans in an emotional post shared to his Facebook account, "my good friend and mentor of 25 years, Elmer Duellman passed away this week." Wolfe remembered Duellman as "a big kid at heart as the owner of Elmers Auto & Toy Museum," sharing that he "had more than 600 pedal cars in his collection -- the largest in the country. (He even had a 1929 Model A Phaeton in his family room!)"

"Elmer shared his knowledge of classic cars and antique toys with me when I first started pickin all those years ago. He was always there support to me and answer my questions -- something I always appreciated," he wrote. "I believe as collectors, we have the responsibility to honor the items and pass along their stories to the next generation. Elmer lived a similar truth."

As fans prepared to tune into the special Jan. 18 episode, many also shared their condolences, with one person commenting on Wolfe's post, "These always bring me to tears ... the way you help to tell someones story thru their collection." Another person wrote, "Can't wait to see this. Will never forget his hospitality showing us his collection and stories." New episodes of American Pickers air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on History.