MUMMIES CURRENTLY ON TOUR IN US
'A DAY IN POMPEII' IS BACK!                MUMMIES OF THE WORLD
 
 
EGYPTIAN MUMMIES OTZI THE ICEMAN POMPEII PLASTER CASTS BOG BODIES HUMAN AND ANIMAL MUMMIES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
MUMMYMAKING SCHOOL PROJECTS MUMMY MUSEUMS MUMMY SCIENCE MUMMY DUMMIES SEARCH FOR MUMMIES @ MUMMY TOMBS
SCHEDULE A SCHOOL VISIT WITH JAMES M DEEM MUMMY QUIZ SHOP FOR MUMMY BOOKS, DVDS, TOYS, GAMES, COSTUMES AND MORE
 

Bestselling Books at the Mummy Tombs

 
 
NEWS
latest news
news archive
why he's special
Iceman Q&A
DISCOVERY
his discovery
his findspot
the lawsuit
ABOUT ÖTZI
who he was
his health
his three faces NEW
his occupation
his equipment
his clothing
his final route
his last meals
STUDIES, THEORIES, MYTHS
theories about his death
scientific studies
his DNA 
the stele
the curse of Ötzi?
ÖTZI'S NEW HOME
his icy chamber
visiting the museum
visiting Bolzano
MORE TO DO
books and periodicals
B. Fowler interview
photos and movies
Ötzi art project
Ötzi word search
AND DON'T FORGET
Kwäday Dan Ts’ìnchí
other glacier mummies
 
 
 

Finders' Fee Lawsuits

 

Provincial government of Bolzano finally agrees to pay €150,000 settlement to Erika Simon (6/15/2009)

At the end of September 2008, the lawyer representing Erika Simon (and Helmut Simon's estate) announced that the lawsuit between the Simons and the Bolzano provincial goverment was over. The lawyer stated that a six-figure (150,000 euros or approximately $208,000 USD) settlement of the lawsuit would be paid to Erika Simon in a public ceremony by the end of October 2008. That didn't happen as the provincial government of Bolzano apparently dragged its feet and resisted the settlement.

On June 15, 2009, however, government authorities announced that they would pay the €150,000 fee to Erika Simon. Whether this will be done in a public ceremony is not clear, however.

 

     Background Information 

The original lawsuit asked if the finders of Ötzi should receive money for their discovery? If so, how much is fair? According to Brenda Fowler in her book Iceman, Helmut and Erika Simon, who discovered the Iceman's body in 1991, began to wonder about the possible financial rewards of their find shortly after it occurred. 

Fowler writes:

They had been home less than a week [after discovering the Iceman] when an Innsbruck lawyer called to inform them that he believed they might have some claim to the corpse. At first, the idea struck them as absurd. It was a treasure that belonged to all humanity, and they felt honored to have discovered him. Then again, they thought they should at least inquire. But first they hired another lawyer to deal with the Innsbruck lawyer (p. 56).

 

     Trial 1

Eventually in January, 2003, the Simons asked a court in Bolzano, Italy, to recognize their role in the Iceman's discovery and declare them the "official discoverers" of the Iceman. 

At the time the lawsuit was filed, their lawyer Rudolf Ramirez said: "My clients are simple, honest folk, lovers of nature, for whom the discovery was probably the most eventful moment of their lives." He continued that his clients would be content "if only a plaque were to go up with their names."

However, there was speculation that the Simons wanted more than a monument, perhaps as much as a 6-figure pay day. And if they won their lawsuit, the Simons would then be entitled to a finders' fee. According to Italian law, this fee is the equivalent of 25 percent of the value of the discovered item. If one considers that Ötzi earns approximately 2.5 million euros a year (about 3.2 million US dollars) in admission fees alone at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano (and more in photo rights), 25 percent of Ötzi's value would have been a considerable amount.

Finally, in November, 2003, the Simons were declared the official finders' of Ötzi. Then began the legal wrangling, for, the question remained: how would the value of a 5,300-year-old man be determined? Would it be based on his value as a museum display? Would it be based on a certain timeframe?

By the end of December, 2003, the Simons announced the amount of money they wanted: $300,000. They hoped that officials from the local government province and from the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology would agree to a settlement. Instead, government officials appealed the decision.

 

     Other Claimants

In October 2005, two other people claimed to have discovered the Iceman first: Slovenian actress Magdalena Mohar Jarc and a Swiss woman named Sandra Nemeth.

Jarc claims to have discovered the Iceman first. She wrote the court that after her discovery,, she went to find someone to take a photo of the corpse. The people she reportedly found to take the photo were the Simons who stole the discovery from her. 

Nemeth wrote the court that she found the Iceman before the Simons and that she got into an argument with the couple about the discovery. Then she spit on Ötzi to make sure that her DNA would be found on the body, thus verifying her claim.

News reports did not indicate why either Jarc or Nemeth waited so long to come forward. Could it have something to do with the money involved? The Iceman brings in big bucks, both to his museum and to the local economy of Bolzano. 

 

     Trial 2

Despite the other two claimants' appeal to the court, in June, 2006, the appeals court ruled that the Simons did indeed discover the Iceman and were therefore entitled to a finder's fee. What's more, the court ruled that the provincial government must also pay the Simons' legal fees. The victory was perhaps bittersweet, in that Mr. Simon has died in 2004.

Despite the law, government officials still insisted that they would pay no more than €50,000 (about $65,000). The Simons' lawyer argued that the Iceman earned a considerable amount of money for the provincial government both in admissions fees at the museum and in money brought in from tourism; they believed that they were entitled to a larger sum. Again, they hoped for some type of settlement.

Although they asked a finder's fee of about $300,000, their request  was apparently reduced after the June, 2006, finding to €150,000 (about $195,000). However, the provincial government responded that the high expenses it had incurred to establish a museum and maintain the Iceman's preservation should be considered when determining the finder's fee; therefore, they maintained that a reduced fee was justified. According to one official, "One has to consider that we have borne all the expense of exploiting the find." Of course, Mrs. Simon saw things differently. 

 

     Trial 3

Instead of working out a settlement, local officials decided in September, 2006, to make one final appeal, this time to Italy's highest court, the Cassation Court. 

On August 26, 2008, the provincial council of Bolzano apparently offered Erika Simon a settlement amount of €100,000 (approximately $150,000).  

On September 27, 2008, the lawyer for Helmut Simon's estate announced that a payment for a six-figure sum would be made by the end of October 2008. 

On June 15, 2009, Bolzano government authorities announced that they would pay €150,000 as compensation for the discovery of the Iceman.

 

SOURCES: Calgary Herald (1/16/03); straittimes.com (1/17/03); News.com.au (8/11/03); Montreal Gazette (12/26/03); ansa.it (10/6/05); discovery.com (6/5/06); ansa.it (9/27/06, 6/15/09)

 

 

About the Mummy Tombs     |   Mummy Definition     Ask a Question       Bestsellers at the Mummy Tombs


All material on this website is intended primarily for children, educators, and parents.  
© 1988-2012 James M. Deem 
If you would like to contact James M. Deem, you may reach him here.

Be sure to visit The World of James M. Deem for stories, activities and information about the books of James M. Deem.