AN ENTREPRENEUR thought he had hit the jackpot when he found £150,000 hidden behind a bathroom wall – but it ended up being a nightmare.
Bob Kitts was remodeling the bathroom of an old house near Lake Erie in Cleveland when he found two green locked boxes hanging by a wire under the medicine cabinet.
Inside he found envelopes with a return address for the P. Dunne News Agency.
“I tore the corner out of it,” Mr. Kitts said in a deposition in a lawsuit filed by Mr. Dunne’s estate, according to The New York Times.
“I saw a 50 and got a little dizzy.”
It turns out the envelopes contained £124,000 and a cardboard box contained a further £26,000.
But the discovery of the rare bills from the late 1920s turned into a living nightmare for Mr Kitts, as he and owner Amanda Reece could not decide how to split the money.
She offered to give him 10% of the money, but he wanted 40% – and things soon got rough.
The Dunne estate also later sued, with 21 heirs claiming rights to the money.
Yet there was not much more to claim.
Ms Reece said she spent around £11,000 on a luxury trip to Hawaii with her mother and also sold some of the bills on eBay and to a parts dealer.
She also claimed around £47,000 was stolen from a shoebox in her wardrobe – although she said she never reported the incident to the cops.
Matters escalated further after Mr Kitts said Ms Reece accused him of stealing money.
She reportedly started leaving him threatening phone messages as the situation turned sour.
Finally, Ms Reece dropped her claim for the remaining £20,000 and the courts awarded Mr Kitts 13.7 per cent and the rest to Mr Dunne’s 21 heirs.
Cuyahoga County Probate Magistrate Charles Brown said the money in the envelopes belonged to the heirs because they bore Mr Dunne’s name.
And he said the cash in the cardboard box should belong to Ms Reece as the owner – but she dropped her claim, so Mr Kitts could take the cash as he found it.
I wasn’t the bad guy everyone made me
Ms Reece, a mortgage loan officer, testified in a deposition that she struggled with debt issues at the time.
Gid Marcinkevicius, a solicitor who represented the Dunne Estate, said: ‘I called it the greed case.
“If these two people had sat down and worked out their differences and split the money, the heirs wouldn’t have known about it.
“Because they couldn’t sit down and split it rationally, they both lost.”
Mr Kitts claimed he lost a lot of business at the time because he was portrayed as greedy.
“I wasn’t the bad guy everyone made me out to be,” he said.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. It was a great experience, something that won’t happen again.
“In that regard, it was quite fascinating; seeing that amount of money in front of you was breathtaking.
“In this regard, I do not regret it.
“Threats and all – that’s the part that makes you wish it never happened.”