Massachusetts man returns to rightful owner $127K in bonds he found in $40 desk from auction

Michael Walsh
Phil LeClerc bought the Governor Winthrop desk for $40 and later found  $127,000 in U.S. savings bonds in $500, $1,000 and $10,000 denominations.

A bargain hunter paid $40 for a Governor Winthrop desk at an auction  and found $127,000 in matured U.S. savings bonds inside.

Phil LeClerc, of Weymouth, Mass., returned the long-lost fortune to the family that had put the secretary desk up for auction.

“He’s one of our regular buyers. We would have expected nothing less of him,” Laurie Giacchetti, manager at Kelley Auctions, said of LeClerc in an interview with Yahoo News.

The bonds  in $500, $1,000 and $10,000 denominations  belonged to a 94-year-old man who did not have enough money to pay to live in an assisted living home.

The man, who prefers to remain anonymous, lost the bonds several years ago and had been looking for them ever since.

He tried to cash them out without the physical proof, but Uncle Sam refused.

“It was something they just chalked up as being gone for good,” Giacchetti explained.

The son of the owner of the bonds had contacted Kelley Auctions in Holbrook to clean and sell his father's home and auction off his belongings, so the family could afford the assisted living and nursing payments for him.

“The money that they’ll now get will be tremendously helpful to them and caring for their father,” Giacchetti said.

LeClerc, who won the desk on Nov. 19, had been looking inside the desk for a knob that had fallen off when he stumbled upon the windfall.