16 votes

New York college students find $40,000 in $20 couch from thrift store

New Paltz Students Find $40K in a Couch
May 12, 2014 - Local News - 33 comments

It was an ethical dilemma straight from the textbooks: Imagine you and two of your friends find a small fortune of cash inside a crummy old couch you bought for cheap at a second-hand shop. Would you trace the money back to its owner, or would you keep it to spend on your heart’s deepest desires? A SUNY New Paltz student and two friends dealt with this dilemma first hand early March 2014.

Third-year geology student Reese Werkhoven, Mount Holyoke College graduate Cally Guasti and SUNY New Paltz graduate Lara Russo were getting cozy on their new couch for the first time, when Werkhoven ruffled himself a plastic envelope from under the couch’s patchy arm.

“I almost peed,” Werkhoven said. Inside the envelope was a wad of twenties that added up to $700.

“The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like fifty cents. Honestly, I’d be ecstatic to find just $5 in a couch.”

The group began a thorough excavation, maneuvering the couch in all directions so that every linty crevice could be probed to find more money.

“Just when we thought we pulled out the last envelope we’d find another $1,000 a few minutes later,” said Guasti.

Twenty minutes after sitting on an old musky couch, three college stu

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Open up some credit cards and

Open up some credit cards and mindlessly consume and spend away boys. Whoever was saving that money was not doing her part to spur economic growth.

wolfe's picture

Similar story.

My grandmother recently passed away. There is too much family drama to even begin to describe but...

She kept her savings in a hidden compartment in a very expensive (but unassuming) dresser. Now, the interesting thing is that the person who has the dresser, has no clue.

While the few family members who do know (including my immediate family), exist on the other side of the feud. They wouldn't consider returning the dresser, and we wouldn't consider telling them what is in it (about $70K).

Which basically means someday, some VERY lucky person is going to stumble on a small fortune in a second hand shop.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

I would add that if you DO try..

To make peace with the other side of your family over this money have a lawyer write up a contract that both parties sign which lays out the fact that you both have agreed to split this money.



Or you could (try) to make peace with your relatives, and then

...*gasp*..split the money with them 50/50% for good will gesture and the fact that they actually have possession, but you have the knowledge (and she was YOUR grandma as well :)!

I hope it works out, rather than going to strangers.


What would Ralph Cramden do ?

Around 9:15 is the best scene

So what Alice?

For two days!
I was a millionaire.
Easy Come.
Easy Go.

yes, property rights. if you

yes, property rights. if you care about something then you don't lose it. stealing it, on the other hand, is a different story. these kids bought the couch, therefore, they are the owners of the couch and it's contents, from the stuffing to the spare change in the cracks, even if the change adds up to a few thousand.

Property Rights

One of the best things to teach one's children is respect for the property of others, including returning lost items to the owners, preventing damage, and general good-neighborliness, like rescuing other people's pets or letting them know their car door is ajar.

It is so much easier to do the right thing if you don't start fantasizing about it being yours. You find it, you return it, if you can.

The time to decide how to spend it is after it becomes yours.

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

yes, property rights. if you

yes, property rights. if you care about something then you don't lose it. stealing it, on the other hand, is a different story. these kids bought the couch, therefore, they are the owners of the couch and it's contents, from the stuffing to the spare change in the cracks, even if the change adds up to a few thousand. don't let envy cloud your idea of property rights, because i have a strange feeling you wouldn't care if they found 50 cents, but suddenly finding 40,000 is a "moral issue".

Like in that movie "A Simple Plan" where they found...

...a million dollars in a crashed airplane.

I read the book.

Very entertaining and it had the same plot as this story where the people who found it were faced with a decision and how what they decided to do with the money changed their lives - and not for the better either.

Billy Bob Thorton and Bridget Fonda.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

Tomorrow's Headline

Student's Who Found and Returned $40k in Couch Liable for $10k in Taxes.


$40k Returned by Students Siezed Moments Later by Local Authorities as Drug Money.

Cops argue if it were not drug money then she'd have it in a bank rather than on her person.

It seems strange that people believe

That there opinion of another person's "goodness" would justify ignoring property rights.

Either the property is abandoned or its not. If you decide it is abandoned, the fact that the person who abandoned it is "nice" wouldn't make a difference.

If it is not abandoned then, whether you consider the person good or not does not justify keeping their property.

It didn't seem the students were weighing a legal issue but

ethical one. Certainly they knew they hadn't stolen the money. Nor had they just found it (such as on the street or in some other public place). The money was in a couch they had purchased. Now, maybe from a legal standpoint that still didn't make them lawful owners of the couch *or* money IF it could be proven that the couch was removed from the woman's house unlawfully. (I'm referring to the actions of the woman's daughter, attempting to upgrade her mother's sleeping arrangements on account of her crippling bad back.)

Maybe for attorneys this is a B&W issue, but not for normal people. There is something higher than determining the rightful owner of property: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

Well lets say that instead

of a nice old lady, the previous owner had been a child molester or someone that sold black market cigarettes or ammunition. Would they have been justified in keeping the money ?

I didn't downvote you, but apparently

others disagree with you as well. There is an "if" here, making it a hypothetical question.

But *if* the students turned out to be the "lawful property owners" (that is, if the daughter had the right to act on behalf of her mother - as may, or may not, have been the case and which, under the circumstances, became moot), then YES! That would make the "return" of the money a GIFT. We can choose to give whatever is ours, to whomever we wish, based on whatever parameters we deem appropriate - whether having to do with "goodness" or "need" or otherwise.

As it turned out, the students chose to return the money before they found out she was a "nice old lady" or what her health or financial status was - and before they knew if they'd be legally bound to. It seems that, bottom line, they acted according to the Golden Rule. If they were my children, I'd be proud of them.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

Gifts are different

I suppose I distinguish between doing the "right" thing, and doing a good thing.

And I too think the students did a good thing by giving the money to the woman.

But the way the article describes their thought process, they were not thinking a gift, they were thinking that the previous owner of the money was either entitled to it or not based on their opinion of the person's goodness. Had the envelope been labeled "Miley's heroin money" or "Miley's abortion fund", they would have probably done something different with the money, not because they didn't want to give miley a gift, but because they did not feel that Miley would be entitled to the lost money.

Stop challenging US!

Stop Challenging US!
It's Friday!

I'd turn it in

Could be drug money. If it has any residue of cocaine, they could be the ones that would have to explain it.

If the owner doesn't claim it, it's theirs, conscience clean.

Conscience does not exist if not exercised

"No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up!
---Lily Tomlin

Especially considering pretty

Especially considering pretty much 99% of money has some kind of drug residue on it...

We all share this eternally evolving present moment- The past and future only exist as inconsequential mental fabrications.

Maybe this is the Fed's QE 99

since I seem to remember the Bank of Japan at one time had plans to put money in various public restrooms to be 'found' by users.

so awesome

I originally read the headline as "fined $40,000."

Article had much more pleasant ending than I was expecting.

You read like me

You read like me

Proof: Sofas are still safer

Proof: Sofas are still safer than banks.

The bank

Still stole through the loss of interest over the years. There is no escaping a bank unless you have real savings. However, I understand what you are implying.

I loan money to banks and

I loan money to banks and others (peer to peer & micro-financing) all the time. I know banks don't pay as much interest but they do give me easier access to my money. I don't consider it theft any more than I would consider it theft if one of the other people I loaned to re-loaned the money at a higher rate. When I borrow money at 0% or 1% from a credit card provider looking for my business and then loaned it out at 2 or 3% I haven't stolen the money I've just made a good business decision.

and if that money is 20 years

and if that money is 20 years old, you have lost 50% of the purchasing power by holding onto cash. had you bought an asset, you would have retained your wealth. a bank's interest rate is always less than inflation. always.

haha no kidding

haha no kidding

Southern Agrarian