If you’ve ever renovated the attic of an old building, there are a few discoveries you probably expected. Rodents, perhaps, or old documents coated in dust. Maybe, at best, a rusted pendant or pocket watch. But workers in France, hired to fix up a building at the Alexandre Bonnet Champagne-producing company, happened upon something just a bit more surprising — not to mention a bit more lucrative.
A worker struck the building’s ceiling with a crowbar and gold coins, tucked into the rafters, began to rain down on him, the AFP reports. Francois Lange, head of the company based in Les Riceys, France, said the stash included 497 total coins, minted in the U.S. between 1851 and 1928 and each with a $20 face value. Today, they’re worth an estimated $980,000.
Lange said he plans to keep half of the coins for himself and distribute the remainder to the workers responsible for the discovery. The exact origin of the coins could not be determined, the AFP reports, but the building is a former grape drying facility once owned by a wine producer who is believed to have traded with the U.S. during prohibition.
A celebratory vintage is possibly in the works, the Guardian reports, tentatively titled “Hidden Treasure.” If Lange infuses it with gold flakes and markets it to the world’s wealthiest, then he’ll really strike gold.