An Ohio contractor who found $182,000 in Depression-era currency hidden in a bathroom wall will end up with less than $3,500, now that unexpected heirs, litigation, splurges and a mysterious disappearance have cut into the take.
Most of the money that Bob Kitts found on the job in May 2006 has disappeared, and most of the rest will be divided among 21 heirs of the home’s former owner who surfaced after the discovery became public.
"If these two individuals had sat down and resolved their disputes and divided the money, the heirs would have had no knowledge of it," attorney Gid Marcinkevicius told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Because they were not able to sit down and divide it in a rational way, they both lost."
Marcinkevicius represents the estate of Patrick J. Dunne, the former homeowner who stashed the cash in the wall decades ago.
The home’s current owner is Amanda Reece, who had hired Kitts—then an old friend—to renovate the bathroom. After Kitts found the money—some of it wrapped in paper marked “P. Dunne”—he and Reece argued over the claim, leading to a court battle.
While the claim was pending, however, Reece spent most of the money, she later admitted in probate court. She also said that an additional $60,000 she had kept in a shoe box had vanished. She said she had not reported the theft to police and abandoned her claim to any of the remaining money.
By then, only $25,230 of the original sum remained. Recently, Kitts was awarded 13.7 percent of that total, with the rest being split among the Dunne heirs.
Kitts told the Plain Dealer that he had lost a lot of business because media reports on the case had portrayed him as greedy, but that he felt vindicated by the court's decision to give him a share.
"I was not the bad guy that everybody made me out to be," Kitts said. "I didn't do anything wrong."
He's often asked why he didn't keep his mouth shut and pocket the money. He says he wasn't raised that way.
"It was a neat experience, something that won't happen again," Kitts said. "In that regard, it was pretty fascinating; seeing that amount of money in front of you was breathtaking. In that regard, I don't regret it.
"The threats and all—that's the part that makes you wish it never happened."