Family Finds 41 Million Lire in Basement, But It's Worth Nothing

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 02:15

As if the Euro currency didn’t already have enough opponents, here’s a story that will give those Euro detractors another reason to hate it.

An Italian family, the Sacchi, recently bought an old farmhouse in the countryside around Bologna. When they started renovating the building, they noticed a cavity in the basement: there, they found a case containing 41 million lire (approximately 20,000 euro).

Too bad that money is worth absolutely nothing. A law implemented by the government headed by Mario Monti anticipated the deadline by which it would be necessary to exchange all remaining old lire into euro: after December 6, 2011, the lire would simply become waste paper. (Italy has the strictest deadline in Europe; some European countries, including Germany, have set no deadline for the currency exchange.)

The bank where the Sacchi family went to exchange the money refused to do so based on the law. However, the Sacchis do not want to give up and have decided to sue Banca d'Italia, assisted by lawyers, experts and consumers’ associations.

Even before this episode, the law was already a controversial one: a year ago, Federcontribuenti, a consumers' association, considered declaring the law unconstitutional and presenting a collective  appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.   

At least the Sacchi family has already come up with a Plan B: if they can’t change the money, they will turn to collectors’ markets, hoping to be able to sell the banknotes to passionate notaphilists.