They were one of hundreds of Parisian families who moved to their country house during the coronavirus lockdown in France. But unlike most others, the rather dull period has literally been worth its weight in gold for this family who made a very fortunate discovery.
Wanting to build a tent in their garden, the children in the family were looking for old sheets in their great-grandmother’s cupboard when two small but relatively heavy objects tumbled on the floor.
The father, after being shown the grayish looking, dust-covered objects, recognised them as knife holders that his grandmother had used during family dinners for many years.
However, when his children mentioned the presence of serial numbers and inscriptions on the two bars, it piqued his curiosity and he contacted the Vendome-based auctioneer Philippe Rouillac for an opinion.
Around the same time, Rouillac had launched an online initiative to maintain the public interest in his auction house during the confinement period.
"Every day on our website at 3 pm, we told the story of an interesting object. This resulted in many people sending us inquiries about what they had found in their houses," Rouillac told RFI.
Bars worth 100,000 euros
"Sometimes, they discovered or rediscovered an unusual object after tidying up and asked us for a free appraisal by videoconference," he said.
One of them was the 40-something Parisian who wanted an expert assessment of the two metal bars.
During their initial online meeting in April, Rouillac, after learning of the dimensions, weight and the inscription of numbers, surmised the two objects weren’t made of ordinary metal.
His hunch was confirmed when he saw the objects in person after the easing of the lockdown in mid-May.
"They are gold bars, produced in 1967, weighing a kilogram each with a combined value around 100,000 euros," Rouillac said.
Rouillac’s appraisal naturally left the family stunned. First, for having unexpectedly stumbled upon a small fortune and also the realisation that these valuable objects were used as mere knife holders for so many years in the family.
The two bars will be auctioned off on June 16. And if the children's wish were to be granted, there could soon be a swimming pool built next to their house!