Any good American Pickers fan knows the lore behind the show’s stars, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. The two allegedly met in middle school in the early ‘80s and bonded over their love of “rusty gold.” Once they graduated, they went their separate ways, with Wolfe opening his store Antique Archaeology and Fritz launching Frank Fritz Finds. When television came calling in the late ‘00s, Wolfe allegedly enlisted Fritz for the ride, and together—along with Danielle Colby, who supposedly manned the phones and looked for leads, if you believe that—the two spun American Pickers into History Channel gold, with 325 episodes over 22 seasons produced to date.
Of course, we’re talking about reality television here, where things aren’t always as they seem. With Pickers, the threads of credulity seem to be unraveling rather quickly, sparked by Fritz’s unceremonious ousting from the show a couple of weeks ago. At the time, Wolfe took to his Instagram, saying Fritz was “like a brother” to him, and saying that he would “pray for the very best and all good things for him on the next part of his journey.” Fritz didn’t take that post well, telling UK tabloid The Sun that he was fired from the show in a move orchestrated by Wolfe, and that his co-star’s statement was “bullshit” penned by someone else. He also said the two “were never friends in grade school,” and that “I don’t believe in 10 years he’s said five nice things to me... unless he was cutting somebody else down and we were both laughing.”
Fritz told The Sun that the pair’s differences became especially evident after his back surgery a few years back, which forced him to take a break from the show and lose a substantial amount of weight. He said no one from the show or network ever called to see how he was doing, a move that made him feel like he was “just a number.” Fritz said that struggles with Crohn’s Disease and immunity issues kept him from returning to filming during COVID, but that “Mike didn’t call me himself, never.” Rather, he insists that the pair actually haven’t spoken in over two years, saying “That is true and I’m not going to sit here and fucking lie to people. If he doesn’t like it, then maybe he should have fucking called me. Maybe he should have called and said, ‘Hey, how’s your back doing?’” Fritz also alleged that “the show is tiled towards [Wolfe] 1000 percent,” saying that he was generally fine with that, to a point, using the analogy that “it’s like you’ve got Aerosmith and there’s Steven Tyler and he’s the front man...I’m second and he’s number one on the show.”
Following Fritz’s statement, Danielle Colby got in the mix, posting a photo of herself and Wolfe on Instagram with a damning caption including the following:
“I’m truly saddened for the loss of Frank on the show. I’m incredibly sad for his struggles. I have personally watched everything over the last decade. I have many thoughts but won’t speak them as they are only my my thoughts, not gospel. I wish things could have been different but we must be accountable for our actions when we cause instability or pain and suffering to others. Frank caused so much pain for himself that it has been hard to watch. I truly hope Frank receives all the help he needs to become well after years of being unwell.”
Fritz has acknowledged that he entered rehab for alcohol after his back surgery, saying the show’s producers were subsequently pretty vague about whether he’d be invited back on the show. Fritz told The Sun that he thinks Wolfe would like his brother Robbie to take Fritz’s role on Pickers, but so far that claim hasn’t been substantiated by Wolfe or History Channel. The official American Pickers site has removed all photos of Fritz, instead choosing to highlight only Wolfe and Colby.