Finders Keepers? Couple Finds $10 Million In Gold Coins Buried in their Backyard

February 25th, 2014

This is a case right out of 1L Property: couple finds $10 million in gold coins buried in their back yard:

A Northern California couple out walking their dog on their Gold Country property stumbled across a modern-day bonanza: $10 million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree.

Nearly all of the 1,427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them

Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece.

So is it Finders Keepers?

I am not familiar with California law in particular, so I’ll throw out a few considerations. First, that the couple owns the land is probably helpful, as sometimes there is a dispute between whether the finder or the owner of the land keeps found items. Here, the finders owns the land.

Second, there may be an issue if the gold coins were intentionally buried, or simply lost. If the coins were never circulated, odds are that someone didn’t abandon them accidentally. It is more likely that someone buried the coins, and for whatever reason, never came back for it. I suppose the predecessor-in-interest could state a claim. But that knowledge has likely been lost to the sands of time.

H/T M.M.