Friday, December 14, 2007

This Ol' House

Almost everybody in the neighborhood had “troubles,” frankly localized and specified; but only the chosen had “complications.” To have them was in itself a distinction, though it was also, in most cases, a death warrant. People struggled on for years with “troubles,” but they almost always succumbed to “complications.”
Edith Wharton (1862–1937), author

Here is a momentary conundrum, because once you think about it, it’s really a no brainer. You hire a contractor to remodel your house, who also happens to be an old high school classmate. As he is tearing down a bathroom wall he finds $182,000 in cash that is wrapped in newspapers dating from 1938 and 1939.

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

...the money was carefully wrapped in Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper pages dating from 1938 and 1939 and tucked inside boxes contractor Bob Kitts found while working on a client's bathroom. He found one box, containing $25,200 in what the Plain Dealer called "pristine bills," behind the medicine cabinet. Another metal box, which was attached by a wire to a stud, held more than $100,000 in bills. The words "P. Dunne" were written on the bundles of dough, and the ownership of the house during the Depression was traced to a businessman by the name of Peter Dunne. "Dunne apparently died unmarried and childless, leaving behind a mystery [and a lot of cash].

I believe without a doubt that the money belongs to the owner not the contractor. However, the owner should be generous and give the contractor a nice bonus, if he finishes the job on time.


Anonymous said...

On the Mark says: I haven't read the article, but it seems that the contractor should have kept his mouth shut. Blood relatives (cousins, etc.) are going to come out of the woodwork claiming that money and it will probably be tied up for decades.

The Misanthrope said...

I thought the same thing. No one would ever have been the wiser, but ethically he did the right thing, until he started demanding a share of it. However, NPR mentioned this morning that a Finders Keeper's law may entittle the contractor to it.

Anonymous said...

Well, now you're just being silly. Everyone knows contractors never finish a job on time!

Jack Steiner said...

Everyone knows contractors never finish a job on time!

I rarely am late. Usually the customer is to blame because they are still fighting over what color paint, tile etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree -- I think it belongs to the owner.