By Rick Bretz for CoinWeek…
In case you have not figured it out yet, the reason I like “Pedigrees & Hoards” are because of the stories. For me, it is so much more fun to relate a story to coin collecting than to just try to fill holes in an album or slots in an NGC box. And now I am going to tell a story about the “Cleveland Wall of Greed Hoard” and in my next article about “The Miami Beach Mansion Hoard”. I am going to refrain from getting philosophical about the hoards and will let you draw your own inferences.
As the story goes, in 2006 a realtor in the business of house flipping purchased a home that was in need of remolding before it could be sold and she contracted an old school chum in the construction business to improve the eye-appeal. While renovating the bathroom, the contractor discovered several bundles of old currency wrapped in pre-WWII Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper with the name “P Dunne” written on it. After the money was retrieved from the wall, inspected and counted it came to $186,000 with an estimated numismatic value of approximately $500,000. Many of the bills were dated in the 1920’s and were rare Cleveland Federal Reserve notes.
Now the greed set in. Instead of splitting the money and going about their ways, the realtor offered the contractor a mere 10% of the find. And then to further stiff the contractor, she stopped returning his calls and ignored him. The contractor was forced to consult a lawyer and then things really spun out of control.
The first thing that was done was to find out more about this “P Dunne” and investigations found that he was a successful Cleveland business man in the 1940’s that previously lived in the house. Upon his death in 1968, he left his estate to his sister-in-law, Agatha Gannon, without any mention of the hidden money. Agatha lived in the house until her death in 1974 and had no clue about the hidden treasure. She was unmarried at the time of her death and lived alone. She left her estate to 21 nieces and nephews. From here, the lawyers tracked down 7 living nieces and nephews and 50 other relatives that wanted to file a claim for a share of the proceeds. And the lawyers got busy.
During this process, the realtor never relinquished the money. The case finally made it to court to determine who got the money. When asked about the money, the realtor explained that it was stored at her mother’s home in South Carolina and all but $18,000 disappeared. So the arguing by the realtor that the money belonged to her because she owned the house, the arguing by the contractor that the money was his because he found it, and the arguing by the heirs that it belonged to them – – well, it just did not matter much anymore. Almost all of it was gone and no one seems to know where – – or were not talking. And it looks like the remainder of the Wall of Greed currency would dwarf the expenses.
Fortunately, at some point the remainder of the Wall of Greed currency made it to a currency dealer and PCGS authenticated the hoard. I tried to contact PCGS to inquire as to who submitted the hoard for authentication, how much was submitted and when it was submitted. It has been three weeks and counting and no response from PCGS.
Interestingly, under the “finders keepers” law in Ohio the contractor was entitled to all the money if no rightful heirs claimed it. But if that had happened, we would not have had the “Wall of Greed” story to laugh at and shake our heads about.