January 2022 | Volume 13, Issue 6
According to the article, a climber who found a trove of precious stones on Mont Blanc has been given half of the 150,000-euro ($168,700) haul to keep after authorities could not find the original owner.
The climber found the emeralds and sapphires on the mountain in France in 2013, and he has now been allowed to keep half of the stones.
Gem experts divided the haul equally between the climber and the local council, with each lot valued at 75,000 euros ($84,350), a spokesman for the council told the media recently.
The council will put its stones on display at the Chamonix Crystal Museum, which has been under renovation and is set to reopen soon.
The council said the precious stones were being transported on board an Air India Boeing 707, the “Kanchenjunga,” which crashed on Mont Blanc in 1966, killing 117 people.
The crash is the subject of conspiracy theories suggesting the flight, which carried the father of India's nuclear industry, Homi Bhabha, was shot down by a fighter jet or missile.
Another Air India plane, the "Malabar Princess," crashed in the same area in 1950, killing all 48 people on board.
Debris from the wrecks routinely emerges from the bottom of the glacier, including metal, wire and even a piece of landing gear discovered in 1986, according to a Mont Blanc tourist site.
In July 2020 a cache of preserved newspapers from 1966 emerged from the melting glacier in France.
One of the newspapers was the January 20 edition of India's National Herald, announcing the election of Indira Gandhi as the country's first female Prime Minister.
- Discuss the difference between lost, mislaid, and abandoned property.
Lost property is personal property that the owner would like to have back, but for the fact that he or she does not know where the property is. Mislaid property refers to property that the owner has left intentionally in a certain place and later forgotten. Abandoned property is property left by an owner who intentionally relinquishes all rights to its control.
- In the subject case, do the jewels constitute lost, misplaced, or abandoned property? Explain your response.
Based on the evidence presented, in your author’s opinion, the jewels represent lost property, particularly if they were on board the plane that crashed on Mount Blanc in 1966. As mentioned in response to Article 3, Discussion Question Number 1 above, lost property is personal property that the owner would like to have back, but for the fact that he or she does not know where the property is.
- In your reasoned opinion, is the resolution of this case a fair one? Why or why not?
This is an opinion question, so student responses may vary. In your author’s opinion, although some compensation (one-half of the value of the jewels) was paid to the climber who found the jewels, this does not represent actual justice. The jewels will likely continue to increase in value in the future, perhaps at a pace that will outstrip any additional monies the climber might be able to generate from investing the $84,350 he received as his “share.” In your author’s opinion, the outcome would have been optimal if the climber had been awarded all the jewels—“Finders, keepers!”