It was a once-in-a-lifetime find for a man who bought an old desk on eBay for forty dollars because it had a rumored secret compartment hidden below it. After getting the item of furniture back to his house, he made the decision to examine it more carefully.
There were a few problems, but the one that LeClerc noticed first was that one of the knobs was missing. After that, he began digging around inside the desk and pounding on it to see if anything would come out.
The individual suspected that the knob had been lost inside of one of the many secret compartments that are characteristic of Governor Winthrop desks.
LeClerc started coming into significant volumes of mature bonds. “We discovered 50s, then we found 100s, then we found 500s, and ultimately we found a stack of six $10,000 bonds.”
Following a thorough investigation of the desk, it was determined that he was in possession of $127,000 in bonds that had just been stashed away. That is a very satisfactory return on an investment of $40.
LeClerc’s first reaction to the discovery was one of utter elation, but after giving it some consideration, he came to the conclusion that the money was not really his to retain.
His awareness of this fact motivated him to make a phone call to the auction house in order to make the previous owners aware of the sale. As it turned out, a man who asked to remain anonymous had sold the desk along with other items from his father’s house before he put it up for sale.
According to Marg-E Kelley, who owns the auction house, the individual was seeking to raise money for his father’s medical expenses as well as the expense of moving his father into an assisted living facility. The family was aware of the connections, but they had been unable to track down the evidence.
LeClerc might have kept the bonds for himself or for his family, but rather than do what was selfish, he decided to look for the people who were legally entitled to them. In the end, LeClerc’s honesty was not only beneficial to a family that was coping with a sick father, but it also made him feel good about himself for doing the right thing.
He said, “After listening to the family’s story, I felt a lot better about it.”