Gold Cauldron Found in Lake Attributed to Nazi Goldsmith Otto Gahr Sparks Lawsuit

The Chiemsee Cauldron.
The Chiemsee Cauldron.


The Chiemsee Cauldron.

The Chiemsee Cauldron.

A Celtic cauldron discovered at the bottom of a German lake has led to a legal dispute in Texas. Initially thought to be an ancient gold cauldron dating to pre-Christian times, the piece’s age has been called into question, and a battle is brewing over its ownership, reports Courthouse News.

Josef Hatzenbuehler, who purchased the cauldron this past year for 965,000 Swiss francs, or $1.1 million, has filed suit against Jens Essig, who in 2001 found the 18-karat gold vessel in Germany’s Lake Chiemse.

In 2014, when the cauldron was on the block at a Swiss bankruptcy auction, Essig, who purports to be a German explorer, contacted Hatzenbuehler, encouraging him to buy the piece on more than 15 occasions. In his complaint, Hatzenbuehler states that Essig called the vessel a “genuine ancient pre-Christian Celtic cauldron” and assured him it was worth a great deal due to its “special significance in Celtic culture.”

The arrangement between the two men, Hatzenbuehler maintains, saw him buy Essig’s creditor rights so he could participate in the auction, but did not give Essig any ownership of the piece. In the event of the cauldron’s resale, Essig would receive 50 percent of the profits, but the agreement was that “Josef individually would be the sole owner of the cauldron if Josef made the successful bid.”

The cauldron’s Celtic imagery, however, may have been misleading. According to Swiss magazine Mysteries, the piece is likely the work of German goldsmith and Nazi Otto Gahr, and was commissioned by a Nazi party member. Hatzenbuehler’s lawyer, Pascal Piazza, told Courthouse News that if the cauldron does date to the 20th century, “then it’s probably worth only $400,000.”

Since the sale, Essig has allegedly demanded Hatzenbuehler return the cauldron to him. The complaint mentions “some alleged partnership, corporation or other relationship,” that Essig believes grants him ownership rights and prevents the cauldron from staying in Texas.

In response, Hatzenbuehler is suing Essig for fraud, fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of contract.

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