Found a treasure! Now what?

Published by: Joop Nijhuis posted on 18 May 2021 reading time

Everyone who participates in the State Lottery hopes to win the top prize. Unfortunately, this is only the case for a few. When you are helping your neighbours with their gardening, you will not fantasise about finding a treasure while digging in that garden.

In my almost 40-year career in the legal profession, I was recently confronted with this situation for the first time. This client did not win the lottery, but had found a treasure! The client found an old money box in the ground while maintaining the garden of his neighbours. In that chest of money were 1000 banknotes of HFL 1,000.00 Dutch Guilders.

What is involved in finding a treasure?

The question that then arises is what should be done? This depends, of course, on the situation, but in this case the following questions quickly came to mind:

  1. Is it just a found object or a treasure?
  2. Do banknotes in Dutch guilders still have value?
  3. Who is entitled to the treasure, the finder or the owner of the land?
  4. From when are you entitled to the treasure and what do you have to do to get it?
  5. Do you have to report the finding of the treasure to the police?

A wealth of information

I can answer some of these questions in advance. For example, not every object found can be considered a treasure, only objects that have value and have been hidden for a long time can be considered a treasure.

Dutch guilder banknotes can no longer be issued but, under certain circumstances, can still be exchanged at the Dutch Central Bank. So the client's find did have value.

A treasure is divided in equal parts between the discoverer and the landowner.


The client in this case was very satisfied with the result and the way I ensured his privacy.

Finding a treasure is a special event that can also bring complications. If you find a treasure and would like guidance in exchanging and/or distributing the treasure, I can offer this to you.