It’s finders, keepers for one lucky Alps trekker.
The mountain climber who discovered precious jewels on Mont Blanc will keep half the treasure, the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc council said Friday.
The unidentified mountaineer came upon nearly $169,000 of emeralds and sapphires while climbing the French peak in 2013. The fortune had been on the mountain’s Bossons glacier since Jan. 24, 1966, when an Air India plane, en route to Mumbai, crashed into Mont Blanc, killing 117 and depositing debris across the Alps’ highest butte.
The fate of the prized cache has remained in limbo since its discovery eight years ago, as authorities sought the bounty’s original owners or their descendants, to no avail.
“After a search for heirs that turned out to be fruitless, the stones were shared this week by two gemology experts between the municipality of Chamonix and the [discoverer],” the council wrote in a statement shared on Facebook. Half of the jewels will be put on display in the Chamonix Crystal Museum, which reopens Dec. 19 following renovations.
A spokesman for the council told CNN that each of the two gem hauls is estimated to be worth $84,350.
The climber — who discovered the jewels in a metal box, where they’d remained for 50 years since the plane’s crash — is “very happy” with the council’s decision, the Guardian reported. Furthermore, he does not “regret having been honest” about his discovery and is content to take half the wealth, part of which he hopes to use to renovate his apartment, he told Le Parisien.
The 1966 crash was proceeded by another in 1950, prompting many conspiracy theories over the years, and not only due to treasure: The crash from which the jewels came carried Homi Jehangir Bhabha, a leader of India’s nuclear program, who was killed. To this day, climbers have uncovered artifacts from the wreckages, including human remains.
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