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17 September 2014 @ 09:15 pm
Real-life treasure trove  
My sister bought her current house in June 2012 and rented it out until she moved in herself in January this year. There was a sad story behind the vendors; they had both moved here from Germany many years ago, and were both deteriorating with Alzheimer's Disease. The wife was worse than the husband; in her mind she was a little girl again, she lost her grasp of English and didn't recognise her husband or grown children any more. She ended up having to go back to Germany, to what remained of her family there, while her husband moved in with their son in Melbourne.

The house was full of interesting little quirks; plastic flowers glued to the windowsills, lace flowers stitched onto the fly screens, hand-painted Sturts Desert Pea over the kitchen walls, while the garden was swarming with gnomes and assorted tiny animal statues. It really was quite uniquely decorated.

So none of us were really surprised when I found a "hidden" kitchen cupboard, a few weeks ago. I was sitting at the breakfast bar and had hooked my feet under the bottom edge, when suddenly it came loose and swung away from the cabinet - and yes, there was a cupboard in behind it, with no handle or anything, no indication from the outside that this panel,which sat flush with the cabinet, was in fact a door. We had a brief glance inside, laughed at ourselves not noticing it before, and thought nothing of it.

Until today, when D decided to rearrange her kitchen cupboards and make use of that extra space. When she opened the door right up she found a heap of boxes tucked out of view of a casual glance - and the contents of those boxes has her stunned. Jewelry; real stuff, not fake, with pearl necklaces and ruby rings and gold chains, all in their original old jeweller's boxes. Amazing stuff, in antique-looking settings, and it's been tucked in there all that time.

We're thinking it had to belong to the previous owners, and not the tenants that lived there for a year or so; the cupboard was so well-hidden, and the jewellery so old-looking that surely it belonged to the old couple. D is now trying to track them down through the real estate agent who arranged her purchase, so that she can return it to the rightful owner. But what a find!
Current Mood: impressedimpressed
a honeyed wine at night: Nude Doyle artworkmoonlightmead on September 17th, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
Wow! I know these stories happen, because I read about them. But to have one happen to someone I know - or her sister, at least - is amazing. It must feel even more astonishing to be part of it.

Good for your sister for trying to track them down. I imagine it's going to put her to a bit of trouble, but I hope it is minimal.

ali15son: pic#122252711ali15son on September 17th, 2014 11:31 am (UTC)
what a nice find...i wonder what will happen if you can't track the owner .
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:20 am (UTC)
I guess if D is unable to track the owner's family then she keeps the stuff, but she'll give it a good shot.
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:19 am (UTC)
Hopefully it won't be too hard - the real estate agent should have details for the vendor's son, as it was the son who handled the sale of the property through a power of attorney. As long as the son hasn't moved in the last couple of years, it should be okay.
mrua7mrua7 on September 17th, 2014 02:04 pm (UTC)
That's going to be a mighty task, assuming the older couple are even still alive. Wow, what a find indeed.
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:21 am (UTC)
No idea about the wife in Germany, but the husband moved in with his son and the real estate agent should have the son's details, as the son handled the sale via power of attorney. As long as the son hasn't moved it should be relatively simple to return the stuff to its rightful owner.
entropy_houseentropy_house on September 17th, 2014 03:58 pm (UTC)
I hope your sister can take photos of the jewelry! And if after honest effort the elderly couple can't be located/are deceased, then I believe it belongs to her.

She can't be expected to spend money searching for the heirs when it's abandoned property.
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:22 am (UTC)
I don't know if it occurred to her to take photos, I'll pass that suggestion on.
I don't think she'd spend too much money on tracking them down, but the son at least should be traceable through the real estate agency.
Strike while the irony is hot: [EMO] PIRATEdraycevixen on September 17th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)

*restrains urge to shout doubloons!*

My whole childhood I dreamed of finding buried treasure and there your sister goes and does it. \o/

I hope she's able to reunite the family with their heirlooms.
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:24 am (UTC)
A couple of times as teens we hired a metal detector and took it to the beach; found the odd dollar here and there but never found anything like this before.
She was planning on ringing the real estate agent today; not sure how she got on as she had visitors when I went past this evening so I didn't drop in.
Calisecali_se on September 17th, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
She's probably wondering what she'll find next!

And I love the idea of a garden swarming with gnomes. :)
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:27 am (UTC)
The gnomes are amazing. I actually minded (gnome-sat?) two of them while the house was tenanted; these two both had a left leg that ended around knee-height and culminated in a tree stump. I called them the Chernobyl gnomes and brought them here for safekeeping.
As well as actual gnomes there are tiny lizards, wombats and the like throughout. It would be a magical garden for little kids.
kiwisuekiwisue on September 17th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
That's a marvelous story, and well discovered, you!

Hopefully your sister can find the son in Melbourne or another relative who can take the things.
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 11:28 am (UTC)
My discovery was quite by accident, and at first I thought I'd broken the decorative front of the bench.

The son in Melbourne is the best bet, as the real estate agent was dealing with him for the sale of the house. As long as he hasn't moved, anyway.
kiwisuekiwisue on September 18th, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
I can't imagine finding a hidden compartment and not immediately searching it, no matter what else was going on!

Hope your sister finds the right person.
miwahnimiwahni on September 18th, 2014 08:23 pm (UTC)
To be honest I was pretty amazed that she hadn't opened it up before then. At the time of discovery she had some boxes stacked up against it so it only opened partially, but me, I'd have been pulling the boxes out of the way by the next day at least.