Written by Staff Writer at CNN London, Farah Nayeri
Since he found the bracelets on Mont Blanc, Loerke has been thanked by his boss for his “extraordinary discovery” as well as British celebrities such as Sir Richard Branson and Gareth Malone
“I said to Loerke ‘if you find anything of worth it we’ll pay for it,'” tour guide Miles Law told the tour operators.
“He and his family won’t get anything, but they’ve been given a free place to stay on the Mont Blanc range. They’re very kind, very gentle and very gentle people.”
Legend has it that vandals caused havoc on the Mont Blanc range in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by repeatedly tearing the clasp off the alloy bracelets, allowing them to be bought back for a pittance by ordinary climbers.
Though Loerke wasn’t the first to spot the treasure, he was the first to make a claim. Within days he had sold two of the bracelets to someone nearby, who put them on eBay , which ultimately sold for $129,145. But the exact price the other was sold for is not known.
The display case which once held Loerke’s bracelets which were all melted down for recycling. Credit: SCYBERLANDS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The cache of precious stones, used to make kitchen knick-knacks in centuries past, is estimated to be worth $84,726. Loerke isn’t permitted to keep the final 20 pieces (mostly pendants), which will now be destroyed to protect the gems from being taken by another climber.
Speaking to CNN, law said: “I really don’t know what the story is. He had a job on his hands to solve it, so he did. He doesn’t really care about the money. This isn’t his world, he lives in Seigneure-sur-Oise with his family, he had an accumulation of pride and that’s about it.”
Law is the former vice president of Mont Blanc guides, currently working as a tour guide. He said Loerke’s tale helped popularize the Mont Blanc rung tour, which offers sightseeing at 15 heights in a three-day trip.
The stunning Mont Blanc ‘golden rung’ rung tour. Credit: MUSMAN NURDI/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
“Laerke has been part of Mont Blanc’s story for quite a long time and I think he did his part to help make the visits of Mont Blanc rungs to become much more popular and much more common,” he said.
The geopark is managed by the French government, as well as Mont Blanc Tourism, which is a joint venture between the French public and private sectors. The alliance has a licensing agreement with Sky Pass Inc., part of the World Federation of Museums, to manage the mountains.
The peak is only accessible on a seven-person team, including a guide and expert technical climber. It takes roughly three and a half days to climb. There is no way of seeing from above, but there are excellent sights from the hotel, which includes the Eiffel Tower.
Loerke’s story may help popularize the Mont Blanc rung tour, with the Frenchman’s heroism being repeated in reports across the world.
The body of Loerke is scheduled to be taken back to Belgium to be cremated in a ceremony Sunday.