'Finders Keepers,' Says Contractor Who Found $182K in Walls

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A contractor who found $182,000 in cash in a homeowner’s bathroom walls has hired a lawyer and threatened a lawsuit asserting a right to the money.

Contractor Bob Kitts was rehabbing an 83-year old Cleveland home when he found some of the Depression-era cash in the walls and called homeowner Amanda Reece to alert her to his find, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Further investigation turned up $182,000 in cash, valued at $500,000 because the bills are so rare and in such good condition.

“It was the ultimate contractor fantasy,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve ripped out walls in my house, and all I ever found was steak bones.”

But the fantasy soon turned to feuding. Kitts claimed Reece promised him a finder’s fee of 10 percent, then changed her mind. His lawyer has now requested 40 percent of the value and says a lawsuit may be filed.

The outcome will be determined by common law, since the state, like most others, does not have a statute governing the situation, the newspaper says. The “finders keepers” doctrine allows those who are on another’s property with permission to keep lost money if they find it. But if the money was mislaid rather than lost, the property owner has rights to it.

In any event, the holder of the money must first make a good-faith effort to find the original owner or heirs. Kitts and Reece believe the home was owned before World War II by a man named Peter Dunne, who died unmarried and childless.

A hat tip to the Legal Reader, which posted the story.

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