A treasure trove of rare precious stones has been shared with the mountaineer who uncovered it eight years ago on the Bossons glacier off the Mont Blanc massif, near the French town of Chamonix.
The stones, which are thought to be linked to a plane crash on the peaks which happened almost 50 years ago, were divided into two equal parts. One half of the treasure will be given to the climber who initially stumbled across the stones in 2013 and who has been repeatedly praised for his honesty in sharing the discovery.
“The stones were divided this week into two equal lots, each valued €150,000 by gem experts,” the mayor of Chamonix, Eric Fournier, told AFP on Saturday.
He added that he was “very happy that this case has come to fruition, especially for the finder,” whom he wished to “thank for his integrity.”
According to French law, this is how treasure should be divided if no heir is found within two years. Any discovered treasure must also be handed to the police.
The finder is legally entitled to half of the treasure – in this case, a young mountaineer from Savoie in Southeastern France, who wishes to remain anonymous. He had previously told French newspaper Le Parisien that he will use part of the money to renovate his flat.
The climber found a small metal box with various precious stones, including emeralds and sapphires, in the summer of 2013 after they had been covered up for decades on the glacier. He took it to the gendarmerie so that it could be returned to its owner.
The gems are thought to have been lost on the mountain after an Air India crash on Mont Blanc. This happened both in 1950 and in 1966, when the “Kangchenjunga”, an Air India Boeing 707 flying from Bombay to New York with 117 passengers, crashed into the glacier killing all passengers.
French authorities tried to locate the family of the owner in India, but this attempt was unsuccessful, which is why it was divided between the mountaineer and the town.
The stones will now be added to the collection of Chamonix’s crystal museum, Tairraz Centre, which is due to re-open following renovation works on 19 December.