A ‘modest’ Champagne worker who chanced upon a US$1m collection of gold coins stands to pocket half the proceeds when the treasure is auctioned later this year.
The employee of Champagne Lanson was remodelling a former grape-drying facility in Les Riceys last February when several of the coins ‘rained down’ on him, according to auction house Bonhams.
The collection proved to contain 497 American $20 coins, minted between 1851 and 1928, and untouched for nearly a century.
How they came to be in a vineyard building in the south of Champagne remains a mystery, but Bonhams said the former owner of the building was a wine producer who had traded with the US in the 1930s.
Paul Song, director of the Rare Coins and Banknotes Department at Bonhams, said half of the proceeds of the auction – to be held in Los Angeles in June – would go to the man who found the coins.
‘The vineyard has described him as a modest employee of the Lanson firm, who brought the collection to the attention of the company not knowing that he would be entitled to half of the proceeds under French law,’ he added.
‘According to the vineyard, this anonymous individual will now be able to buy or build a house for his family with the auction proceeds.’
Written by Richard Woodard