A lucky mountaineer who found a box of jewels while climbing in the French Alps in 2013 can split the treasure with the local town council after no rightful owners were discovered.
The hoard of precious stones has been divided equally into two lots of around $169,000 each, the town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc announced Friday. The mayor praised the climber, who chose to remain anonymous, for his integrity in following the law by turning over the stash of over 100 emeralds, sapphires, and rubies.
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The climber told French newspapers he does not regret being honest and plans to use some of the money to renovate his apartment.
He found the box while climbing Mount Blanc, the highest peak in western Europe, around eight years ago. They are likely from one of two fatal Air India flights that crashed on the mountain in 1950 and 1966, and people often find leftover debris, including human bodies, while hiking. Law requires such a finding to be split equally among the landowner and the finder, but only if no legitimate owner can be found.
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After a yearslong investigation, during which two families unsuccessfully claimed the treasure was theirs, authorities determined the booty could go to the locals.
"He saw very well that what he had in his hands was something very valuable, realizing straight away that it was precious stones that had been very carefully wrapped," a local police official said in 2013. "Maybe he didn't want to keep something that had belonged to someone who died."