You’ve heard of the Luck o’ The Irish, now get ready to read about the Luck o’ The French: workers preparing to demolish a derelict house found a pot of gold — a literal pot of gold — in the cellar of the home, and it’s likely worth well over a hundred grand, ABC News Australia is reporting.
Workers in the town of Port-Aven, in Brittany in the far northwest of France, were preparing to demolish an 1800s-era house when they came upon a mysterious container that they thought at first might be an un-exploded World War II artillery shell (Europe is practically lousy with un-exploded World War II ordnance). However, according to the English version of French newspaper The Local, they shook it (NOTE: when you find what you think might be a World War II bomb, don’t do that) and heard rattling. The workers’ boss, Laurent Le Bihan, says the men figured it might be coins, so they opened it up and took a look.
Inside were approximately 600 gold coins, all dating to 1970 and dating the image of Belgian King Leopold II, who reigned from 1865 to 1909.
The Local says that the value of those coins is estimated to be in the neighborhood of €100,000 (about $118,000). It’s not clear if that estimate refers to the value of the coins as collectors’ items, or simply in terms of their value as precious metals.
The workers, for their part, did the right thing and notified the police, who are keeping the coins “under lock and key” until they can figure out what to do with them. Under French law, says The Local, the proceeds should be split evenly between the landowners and the finders, although Uncle Sam — er, the French equivalent — will doubtless want some of that. And probably the workers’ boss, too.
As it turns out, finding a treasure trove of gold coins, at least in France, can turn out to be more trouble than it’s worth. Back in 2014, workers working on a house in Normandy happened upon a much, much bigger treasure trove — an estimated $1.3 million in gold bars and gold coins dated from 1924 and 1927. However, rather than do the right thing and notify the house’s owner — and the police and the French tax authorities and their boss — they instead took the money to a collector and pocketed the money. They were done in by their banker, who wondered where the men were getting such generous checks that they were depositing into their accounts, and notified tax officials.